Monday, June 19, 2017

Hand Quilting

Although I have another hand quilting project that is stalled out in the closet of the forgotten UFOs, I decided that I just couldn't machine quilt the COTDN tabletopper. So this weekend, I managed to get the center section just about finished.

I have seen people hand quilt without a hoop, so I tried it on one of the triangles. Result:  The fabric didn't lay flat. So I am back to using a hoop, rocker stitch, very small between needle. The downside of that is that I have no quilting callus on my under-finger, so I need to stitch a little each day to toughen it up. Proud to say, I haven't bled on the backing with all the poking into that sore finger.

Much to do this week, with a looming trip to a graduation upstate.

The fawns are out and about in our woods and the youngest bucks are proudly sporting stubby little antlers. As we move into July, our walks will slow down, because the wild raspberries are coming into season. They are so tender that I can't bring them home without bruising them to a pulp, so they are food for the trail.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Rainy Day Stitchin

Today is kind of a blah day. Spent the morning trying to put away everything I've brought home from cleaning out mom's house so far, and managed to get that done. After a late lunch, I got out my accuquilt and cut some strips (of the correct width) to work on the blue HSTs for Dawn's Early Light. For the last few hours, I've been stitching COTDN. I think I will actually finish piecing it today.
Ever onward!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

I have the chucklin blues now

Full disclosure:  I have a master's degree in engineering, which required hours and hours of really brutal higher mathematics. I hope they don't rescind my diplomas because I can't do basic arithmetic anymore.

Thankfully, I was only intending to crank out a test block of the blue/neutral HSTs.  I did cut about twenty or thirty of them matter, there will be other ways to use them.

So, I started hacking away at 1.5" strips without giving it much thought. I need to make a triangular unit of HSTs and extra blue triangles, mate it to a string pieced triangle and attach it to a 6" finished block that is a four patch layout of 2 red friendship stars+2string pieced squares.

So take a look at what I did:

I made a mini!

I guess I need to start hacking 2.5" strips this afternoon. Sheesh, I amaze myself sometimes.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Mission Accomplished

Have I finished something? Well, no.

But  I sort of met the goals I set out for myself at the end of yesterday's post.  Just had to reduce some of them to a lick and a promise approach.

Sewing machine cleaned, oiled, gears greased.  Sewing station not perfect, but clean enough to move on to the next step.

With the advent of hot hot weather, I have been trying to only use my little travel iron, and use it sparingly. I batch things up for one big pressing event. Have to be energy efficient in an un-airconditioned sewing room. It gets some passive cooling from a window unit in an adjacent area.

Cutting station: all reds put away and there is room enough to work on the blue and neutral HSTs.

I got about twenty of them sewed before dinner.

Ready tomorrow to make a test unit to make sure my seam allowance is precise.

After dinner, I decided to take some handwork (COTDN) into the worktable in our bedroom, because that AC had been cranking away all afternoon. Again, energy conservation.  Since we were only downstairs at mealtimes, we didn't turn an AC on at all, but kept some fans working all day. 

Tomorrow is bee day, and the semi-annual birthday luncheon.  Anyone with a milestone birthday (60, 70, 80) in the first six months of the year will be showered with FQs.  And since I'll turn 60 in a few weeks, I'll be coming home with some. 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

And the chuckles continue!

I need to rebuild my quilting stamina, I guess.

As I was in the final stages of assembling the friendship stars, I must have discovered ten more wonky stars that needed to be frogged and restitched. I don't know how I didn't notice them as I pressed and stacked them last night. One even slipped through into the joinup with the string pieced blocks.

Today's big oops was this. I thought I made enough string blocks for the red friendship stars. I only made half as many as I needed. Oh well.  I at least got them joined up into the large four patch layout. As usual, I needlessly worried that some of my reds were too dark, or two pink, or too orangey-red. But I think it is coming out fine.
Oops!  I think I see three of these that need to be picked apart and sewn correctly so that there are little triangles in the center where the  string blocks meet. Three blocks were pieced so that the stripes run end on. I believe that's wrong.  I hope it's wrong, otherwise, I have a lot more blocks to fix!  But I am getting so good at frogging this week.

Tomorrow's goals are:

Clean up the mess from the red blocks: sewing table, cutting table, ironing board and floor.
Clean and oil the trusty 301.
Start cutting the blue triangle sets and begin string piecing.

I would rather move on to the blues before piecing the rest of the 3.5" string blocks.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

I just have to laugh

Thought I had half my red friendship stars done, but one of them is a bit rebellious:

No naps this week, and I am starting to catch up on some overdue chores around the homestead. We also wore ourselves out on a workday at mom's house, to clear things out so we can list the house.  It's a bit overwhelming and I have to resist the instinct to bring too many things home. I just remember what Marie Kondo said, and I give it thanks for the joy it gave mom, or all of us, and try to donate what I can.  My own house has too many closets and too much stuff. And cleaning out mom's closets are a real lesson that those hard to reach shelves really need to be purged regularly.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Approaching green

Well, as of this week, I am no longer napping during the day.
I am walking more, quilting more, stressing less.
I finally went to the garden center and bought some flowers.  Next week, I hope to weed and mulch. 
This is all good news.

I have a lot of hand piecing left to do on COTDN, but am making progress.

I started Dawn's Early Light and am mired down in tiny half square triangles. Slow and steady on this effort. Need to strip cut some more recent red yardage to increase the variety. 

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Getting back on my feet

I'm back, but I did not expect to feel this tired after the deathbed vigil and funeral. It's a perfect storm of grief, allergies, a headcold and the list of things that need to be done related to Mom's estate, as well as the list of things that haven't gotten done around the house for the past year.

Naps are good. Naps are allowed. Naps are necessary these days. I think that mourning requires an approach similar to the Red, Yellow, Green  framework that this young mom uses to cope with depression.

For me:

Red days: Exercise, prayer, rest, feed the family are the only essentials.Anything else earns me feel-good bonus points.
Yellow days: All of the above, plus the top three things that need to be done.
Green days: full throttle, no naps, get out for errands.

On any of these days, stitch as much as possible, because that's the only way to mend this hole in my life, and recover from those final heart-wrenching days before Mom passed. Loop through loop or stitch through cloth, by hand, by machine, it doesn't matter.  It's ok to start a new project and not feel guilty. It's ok not to be a slave to my UFO tracker.

So what am I working on? Finishing the hand stitching on COTDN, and starting Dawn's Early Light.
String piecing is good mindless fun, isn't it?

Tried to make myself a little planner for making this into a wallhanging sized project.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Rest in Peace Mom

Last week was the most difficult of my life. Every day mom grew weaker as she rarely woke, lost the ability to eat, drink, speak. After that, she passed within two days.

I am sure I will return to therapeutic stitching in a few days after we get through the funeral. 

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Pulling the pieces together

I managed to finish my third rosette for La Pass, and connect all three finished rosettes together. The joining requires concentration and it focuses my attention away from all my other stresses. Sometimes when life is stressful, I need to do some mindless stitching like making string blocks, but right now, this intense work is really helping to steady me.

I'm a little mad at my phone's camera, there whas a huge difference in half an f first shot washed out the yellow ring entirely, and this one made the background murky. I really need to think about getting a real camera.....

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Minor progress on all things

 Finished the second charity lap quilt:

Working a bit on my third rosette:

 and was very excited to see the big reveal for COTDN on facebook. Had to lay my pieces out to see how it will look:

Friday, May 05, 2017

One Down, one to go

Managed to make the binding for both lap quilts and get one done.

I lucked out...I used the last of a fabric cut to make the green binding, and had only 12" leftover. And the bobbin thread did not run out.  I have a whole box full of leftover binding. I need to think up some small projects to use that up.

My sewing was not without its challenges today. Yes, a certain quiltorium cat... Both have decided to spend this rainy day with me. My little gray lady has just curled up in a cozy napping spot at the head of the bed. She is never a troublemaker.

However, my ginger boy couldn't get close enough....first he was head butting my 301 as I assembled binding pieces. Then he hid under the ironing board and thought the dangling ends of the binding were some cool new cat toy.  I snatched it from his paws and it had no bite marks. Thankfully, he finally fell asleep there and allowed me to finish one of these quilts.

I think I feel a little more productive after I did some spot cleaning in the quiltorium. You know how it goes. Quilting is just not a very neat hobby, at least in my world.

Too many projects in motion, that's my problem.

Are you a daily tidy-er type of quilter? Or more like me?

Thursday, May 04, 2017

And now for something completely different

Worked on the charity lap quilts today.Quilted. Edges serged to prep for binding. Will work on binding tomorrow. Made these out of old online swap nine patches and friendship stars. My online groups were a lifeline during the years of business travel. The erratic travel schedule of my consulting career made it very hard for me to develop an in person social life. Leave a comment if you made any of these blocks!

It's been a year and half or so since I retired. I continue to try to shed my old professional persona and settle into a more relaxed, more real version of myself. As part of that effort, I stopped dying my hair in February. Because my  natural base color is so close to the permanent dye color, there is not much of a skunk line. Lots of silver coming in around my face for now, but the rest of my head is dark brown with threads of silver. The dyed hair should be gone by July or August. Less time at the salon, more money in the budget for my hobbies!
A little more tidying, and then handwork is on my agenda until dinner time.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Quick Update

This is the view out my front window from my favorite chair. Full of spring green.

I finished my center block for COTDN yesterday at my weekly bee. Not pressed yet, but it looks pretty good.

I have been handstitching so much that my "under finger" is quite sore. I guess I always nick it a bit with my needle to know when to dip back up when making a running stitch, just like I do when hand quilting.

After a bit of garden cleanup, I think it's time to tidy the quiltorium just a little and work on some charity lap quilts so I can cross them off the list of "Gotta-dos". Have a great day!

Monday, May 01, 2017

Right as Rain

Well, we have had a bit of rain every day. It's definitely bringing on the May flowers. But the good news is that my eye has calmed down and I have had no facial pain, headaches, or eyestrain today! In spite of working assiduously to finish up the last clue of COTDN. These were terribly hard for me to match up at the intersection of so many seams of little pieces. But it's good 'nuff.

Pressing must be done carefully and Linda always gives instructions. I snapped a picture on my phone and used that as a guide at the ironing board. Things pressed out flat with a dry iron.

I have printed what I need for my chosen center block. I have to use a white print that is a bit lighter than the one I've used throughout the other pieces....I ran out. Visited two stores on Friday, but no luck finding a match. That's the problem with well-aged stash. 

I pieced two charity lap quilts last week, and am awaiting backing fabric that I ordered. I hope to make progress on those this week as well.

And, spring garden chores....there are many waiting for us.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


The good news is that I have a relatively minor inflammation of the white of my left eye. The bad news is that it hurts like the dickens across my whole face. Not infectious. Some cortisone drops should clear it up. Yesterday was a bad day, I got about this much sewing done:

The top parts of the remaining five pieces I need to make for the current clue of COTDN.
All I could manage after lunch was some crochet and lying about like a slug.

Today, I am a little better, but went back on ibuprofen because the pain is getting a bit much and it should also clear the inflammation. I used a cold compress over my eyes for a while too. So, I am getting a little bit of hand piecing done, and started assembling two charity lap quilt tops from a pile of old nine patches from online swaps -- they are decades old....

Well, I am sure Clyde is trying to chew through the closed door to my office to let me know it is definitely his lunch time. I'd better hop to it, or he will take his frustration out on poor little Bonnie and start a kerfluffle.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Ready, Set, Go!

I laid low this weekend, and lots of rest and home remedies got rid of the sinus issue and most of the facial pain. My eye is still red and sore, so I will see the eye doc this afternoon.

I managed to get meals on the table, do some light chores, (not nearly enough!) and printed and trimmed everything I need for a week's worth of hand stitching. My go-kits are packed and ready for my bee tomorrow. Clue Six of COTDN and the rest of my third La Passacaglia Rosette.

I also string pieced a few blocks for Dawn's Early Light.

Question for anyone doing this mystery quilt:  Are you pressing these fiddly blocks with your full sized iron, or a smaller craft iron?  I had trouble in an earlier clue getting the intersection of so many pieces to lay flat when I pressed with my full sized iron.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Gift that Keeps on Giving.....

The Palm Sunday Stomach bug of 2017 has been difficult to recover from. I've had bad facial headaches, and my left eye is still today, I am breaking out the home remedies to see if I can improve things. So far, it's just a normal level of sinus pain, not that "Who hit me in the face with a baseball bat" feeling.  Tea tree oil, neti pot, eyewash, homeopathic eyedrops.  I really hate going on antibiotics, but I may break down and see a doctor next week.

I've been mostly devoid of energy and ambition, but I have caught up on my COTDN mystery quilt clues. Struggling with the small fiddly pieces that meet in an 8 part seam and I think my green is too dark. But it should be interesting to see it come together.

After errands, I'll see if I have the oomph to sit at a sewing machine for a while. String piecing or something mindless perhaps.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Printer Jam

Nothing ruins an inklingo project like a jammed printer. I was hopping right along printing Clue 5 of the Case of the Diamond Necklace, and when I turned my back, I noticed this giant jam up of my printer. Can't even get to the feed tray now.

Soon it will be time to deposit the requested ransom in his food dish, and I will be able to sneak back here and finish.

I finished stitching Clue 4 this morning, before a very nice walk in the warming and greening woods. Our deer friends are in hiding, but we did see a garden snake. Not as much fun as deer spotting.

I am eager to put this mystery quilt top to bed. For some reason, I feel like I have too much in motion right now, so I will stick with this til at least the finished quilt top phase before moving too far onto something else. I haven't been near a sewing machine in weeks, it's been all hand stitching. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Feeling a bit like Flat Stanley

Perhaps your children or grandchildren have done a school project involving mailing around a little fellow named Flat Stanley. I was laid low this weekend by a stomach bug that easily ranks as the worst one I have experienced in my nearly sixty years. Eldercare stress, a virus, food poisoning, I don't know what it was, but it had me flat out for a good 18 hours. Clyde the cat rarely left my side, he is such a good chum. Poor guy had a rough week with his two canines being extracted last week, so he has been needing extra comfort. But he gives it all back to me, for sure.

So, very little quilty stuff happened til today. And today there was only slight progress.

I finished Clue 3 of the Case of the Diamond Necklace, and have just printed Clue 4.

Went to my bee for a while today and started another rosette for La Pass. The center is from some fabric someone left on the donation table at the bee. An easier fussy cut since the center doesn't have match points.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Finished something

Something small. A rosette for La Passacaglia.  I have been so mired down lately. The storms and falling barometer always make me feel sluggish.

So I celebrate this small victory.

My inevitable critique...the pinks aren't an exact match, but the pink in the outer ring harmonizes well with the pink in one of the rosettes that will adjoin it. So it's going to be ok.

On to the inklingo mystery, where I have mistakenly cut more than I need because my sluggishness includes brain fog.  But everything will find a home somewhere. I save scraps.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

quilting interrupted, mostly

Time to finish the taxes, in our usual getting down to the wire fashion.

A bit of progress on La Passacaglia, but nothing photo worthy yet.

Clyde the cat was in for a dental cleaning and came home minus two upper canines. It's been a rough two days. Both cats are craving their kibble, which he can't have til Friday. So we sneak Bonniecat to a secluded room for furtive kibble snacks. Until this morning, Clyde wasn't drinking much and he would kind of bang and roll his head on the water bowl, so we can't even put the water bowls out yet, just present water to them on and off all day. Thank God he was able to drink this morning, and he is not banging and rubbing his head everywhere, so I think the pain is subsiding. Next challenge: getting the pain pills in.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Rainy Day

Winter is still trying to hang on here, it was a cold rainy day. Went to my weekly bee and made more stars.

There is enough motion that if I take a step back, I don't see the asymmetry that is driving me nuts when I give each one close scrutiny.

For future reference, here was my starting fabric. I've got some emerald green and deep magenta set aside for the setting, but I still need to pick my fourth fabric. I want to see the final design of this mystery quilt first.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Wreath wallhanging DONE

Machine quilted yesterday, bound today.  I usually just estimate how much binding I need to make, and I almost always use bias binding.  I almost had to piece in another section on this one, I had about an inch leftover when I cut the ends to make the final bias seam.

Yikes, that was close!

Far from perfect, but I am happy with it. I swapped out my winter wallhanging near the front door, and replaced it with this.

I hate to call this my own design, but I saw an inspiration photo on pinterest that had a kit to make a similar wreath. I purchased the inklingo pattern for the smallest hexies, and used the printable hexagon grid and a box of crayons to lay out my flowers and leaves. Then I had a merry old time pawing through stash, and printed small amounts of hexagons. The darkest ones I had to trace out with a white pencil, as I couldn't see any ink color on those deep Cherrywood fabrics. 

Lots of inspiration photos on pinterest for other mini hexie projects. I am going to be doing smaller projects for a while. I am committed to trying to use up my stash, and that includes the bags of batting strips. It always seems like a good idea to save them. I have pieced some, but I don't enjoy doing that, either with the batting tape or just zigzagging pieces together. I'm always afraid the seam will show through the light fabrics or come undone and bunch up in the wash if it's not heavily quilted.

That's two UFOs completed in less than a week! Should I remove them from my tracker, or savor my gold star finishes? Whatever, just keep quilting! Probably slower progress til we get done with the tax returns.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Progress and a Finish!

Ta Dah!

Berry Bushel is now DONE.  Replaced the Garlic Knots on my kitchen gallery rod.

I printed more shapes for handpiecing two projects, and basted the hexie wreath. All duly noted in my updated tracker.

I even put some of the mess away in the quiltorium.

The promised rain has vanished from the forecast, and it's 61 degrees out, so maybe I will venture outside again and tackle some small outdoor chores for a while. The last of the snow is melting today, so maybe it's finally spring.

I saw a great quote on a church sign this week, it went something like this:

"Nature takes her time. And yet, everything gets accomplished."

The seasons turn, just enjoy where we are right now.