Sunday, January 10, 2021

Second Sunday

Well, here we are at the Second Sunday of January and I've managed to stay out of the sewing room today and focus on hand quilting my Purple Leaves whole cloth quilt. I've finished up the lower parts of the hoop where I was last week and was getting pretty close to the edge of the quilt so have moved the quilt in the frame back toward the center where there are more leaves to stitch not so close to the outside edge. As you can see I'm still in Christmas mode. I think I'll enjoy my tree and decorations for one more week but by next Sunday Christmas should be put away. I will probably keep my Christmas tablecloth on the table, but flip it to the back side. I purposely gave it a backing that I could use when Christmas was over. It still has trees all over it, but it's not so obviously Christmasy. 

I stitched on my little quilt for a few hours this morning and have been resting and doing a few other things this afternoon, but am ready to get back to stitching for a while longer now. When I want to watch TV while I stitch I come out to the couch. The light out here is good and the couch has a fold down section where I can very conveniently put all my tools, tea, and snacks. It's a pretty comfortable place to work. The fireplace is nearby too, so the room stays cozy on these cold dreary days. That's my kitty Nigel laying up against the wall - sorry he's a little fuzzy in the picture. 

I don't know how many Sunday's in a row I'll manage to stick to my plan to spend them hand quilting but I'm off to a good start. Ha! Two weeks. 😊 

Well, I hope you are having a good start to your week. Stay safe and Healthy! 

I'm linking up with Kathy at Kathy's Quilts for Slow Sunday Stitching

Friday, January 8, 2021

In the Pink

January's color for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge is Pink and I've been doing quite a bit in pink this week. I found a pattern from Moda Block Heads 3 from last year that I will be using for some of my Rainbow blocks this year. I pulled out my pink scraps and put together 3 blocks on Saturday last weekend. I'm afraid that's all the pink blocks I'm going to get in that pattern because I have insufficient scraps to cover the need for dark, medium, light, and pale pieces in each block. So I've pulled another pattern from Block Heads 3 and will be making a few of those in pink tomorrow. 

I've also been working a little bit each day on my Peppermint Patty quilt blocks. This is a quilt I started years ago when I learned about doing paper piecing with freezer paper. I had done a couple of paper pieced quilts previously using regular printer paper and had a horrible time getting the paper removed. The thought of not having to sew through the paper at all was intriguing to me so I jumped into a new project and got quite a bit of it done pretty quickly. Then life happened and it got put on the shelf, and that's where it's been for years. 

Today I finished my Snowflake quilt top.  I chose to use the alternate pattern for block 4 that designed the center rows on the diagonal instead of straight across as in the original pattern. Not having done that sort of piecing before made for a challenging learning experience. I also wanted to extend the borders so it would fit my kitchen table. I wanted the outer border to be solid blue, but I didn't have enough blue left. I did have some extra rows of blue and white sewn together because I had misunderstood the alternate pattern and thought I needed more that I actually did. That turned out to be a good thing. I knew I didn't want an all white border but wasn't sure how I was going to get the blue in there when there wasn't much left. While browsing through Pinterest, I saw a quilt that had borders with some small squares of color placed in the midst of the solid border. It looked nice and gave me the idea to use the extra pieced strip sets to make 2" blocks in blue and white and put them in the borders. I'm pleased with how it turned out.

After finishing the Snowflake quilt I set about cleaning up the tables that had a bunch of fabrics and lots of scraps piled up all over them. I sorted through what was there and either folded the fabric up to put it in my stash or piled it into my colored scrap bins. What I was left with were several pieces of the extra fabric strips that had been cut on the diagonal for the center blocks before I realized I didn't need them. I played around with putting them together in different pattens and came up with some diamonds. Those were also a challenge because I've just not done sewing on the diagonal like that before. After messing up the first one I figured out a way to get them lined up correctly so I could get nice points that came together as they should. They are on the design wall now beside the snowflake quilt. I think I'll use them to make a runner for the top of my china cabinet. 

That's about all I managed this week. I have other projects to get to so won't be layering or quilting the snowflake quilt this month, though I did purchase the batting and fabric for the back of it. There isn't any blue in the backing fabric, but the snowflakes all over it keep to the theme nicely. 

My One Monthly Goal for January is to finish my string quilt and I started doing a little bit toward that finish today, but I have quite a way to go on that one. I'm playing with Apliquick tools I borrowed from my good friend Kathy. I've only done a little bit but they seem to be promising to work better than needle turn for me. 

Stay safe and well. I hope you have a fun and productive weekend. 

I'm linking up with the following blogs as their linky parties come available.

Alycia at Alycia Quilts for Finished or Not Friday

Angela at So Scrappy for RSC2021

Beth at Love, Laugh, Quilt for Monday Making

Cynthia at Quilting is More Fun than Housework for Oh Scrap!

Fredreique at Patchwork and Quilts for Patchwork and Quilts #34

Denise at For the Love of Geese for Put Your Foot Down

Jennifer at the Inquiring Quilter for Wednesday Wait Loss

Judy at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts for Design Wall Monday

Nina Marie at Creations, Quilts, Art ... for Off the Wall Friday

Susan at Quilt Fabrication for Midweek Makers

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Slow Down Sunday

Hello 2021, am I happy to see you! Just a quick post today. I wrote a rather lengthy post on the 31st, a review of the good things in my life in 2020. It also covers quilts I finished at the end of 2020 and more of my quilting plans for 2021. You can find that post here. I realized after posting it though that I had left out one of the very best things that happened for me in 2020.  My birthday/Christmas gift from my husband, Dan. 

It's a beautiful hand made Amish hand quilting frame. One of the lovely things about it is that I can use it anywhere in the house, so today I'm in the living room in front of the fireplace and the TV, that I can watch while I stitch. I've not used it a lot since it's arrival in October because other projects I needed to finish were taking my time. However, I want to make a commitment this year to try to finish the two hand quilting projects that I have partly done. They have both been in the works for many years and it's time to get them done. Setting aside Sunday for slow stitching also gives me the chance to slow down and rest from all the activity going on in the sewing room during the rest of the week. 

The first project I want to finish is my Purple Leaves quilt, it's a small table cover. I loved the fabric so much I couldn't bear to cut it up so decided to make a whole cloth quilt of it. It's much smaller that the other and is on the frame and getting some attention today. 

The other is my queen size Floral Log Cabin quilt that could easily take a year to get quilted even with a commitment to work on it one day a week this year. I've thought for some time now that setting Sunday aside for hand work was a good idea, I just didn't do it. I'm not good at New Year's resolutions but think making such a commitment is about the only way I'm actually going to accomplish the quilting on these pieces. 

I hope this New Year finds you well and happy with lots of fun quilting adventures for the coming months. 

I'm linking up with Kathy at Kathy's Quilts for Slow Sunday Stitching. 

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Goodby 2020

The year is nearly over and as someone recently said - good riddance. Only part of me feels that way. In this post I want to focus on the good things in my life that happened in 2020.

In January I discovered the world of quilt blogging and it has had a huge impact on me. I have learned so much from other quilt bloggers over the past year it's significantly improved my quilting life. I made the discovery through The Quilt Show, specifically their show which featured Barbara Black. I visited her blog, and then checked out the blogs she follows, and then the blogs they follow, etc. I was blown away and so excited to discover that there was a whole world of quilting bloggers out there. 

In February I started my own blog. I had been thinking about doing a quilting blog for several years and once I found that expansive world of quilting bloggers out there I just had to join in. I love sharing what I'm doing in the sewing room with others who are also quilting and want to share what's going on in their sewing rooms. By the end of the month I had chosen to stay home except for going out for necessary things, mostly groceries, because of the pandemic. My choice to do so came before any official lock down in our area of California and was due to the fact that I was still recovering from cancer treatment that I went through in 2019. I had retired because of the cancer and with the necessity of staying home I had far more time to sew than I'd had in a very long time.  I think having a sewing room and plenty of projects to work on kept me sane through this challenging year.

I've never been the sort of person to make New Year's resolutions, mostly because I simply can't keep them. I'm too easily distracted to stay the course with any one plan for a whole day, let alone a whole year. So there was no plan for what I wanted to accomplish in the sewing room in 2020. I found Patty of Elm Street Quilts and her One Monthly Goal linky party early on in the year and joined in for several months. But I lost track of that and just didn't keep up, though I kept on sewing. The months I did join in however, and actually reached my goal were very satisfying. 

Whatever I come up with for a plan, or a list of goals to accomplish in 2021, I know they will include lots of time in the sewing room. I have ongoing projects, projects that have been ripening on the shelf, fabrics pulled for projects I have planned but not started, and ideas for quilts I'd like to make someday. I'd like to get to a place where my blog posts are more consistent. I want to learn more sewing techniques, improve my machine quilting, and spend more time hand quilting. A whole year will not be long enough. 

Joining in with several linky parties and seeing what other quilters are doing brought new ideas, new tips and techniques for me to try, and new patterns - lots of new patterns, some with tutorials. I found Moda's Block Heads 3 and though I've not participated in their sew along I've saved the patterns and have used a couple of them in little projects of my own. I also came across the notion of "Squirrel" a project that grabs your attention away from things you would be doing otherwise. This little gem was a very insistent and fun squirrel to chase for a few days this year. It is made from Moda's Block Heads 3 pattern Taos by Vanessa Goertzen. I made it entirely from scraps and love the way it turned out. 

It was Angela at So Scrappy who introduced me to the world of scrap quilters and the fantastically beautiful quilts that have been made just from scraps, something I simply could not have imagined possible. Angela's Rainbow Scrap Challenge motivated me to get my scraps organized so they would be usefully available and it's been a huge improvement in my sewing room and in my ability to actually use my scraps. I've worked with fabric scraps for years without having any kind of plan to use up my scraps. I was just using what I had. This year I actually planned and have nearly completed a small quilt made entirely from scraps - my little string quilt. This quilt has a fun story that I will tell in a later post. I have a little more planned for this quilt but it's a surprise so will say no more now and will share the story when it's no longer a surprise. 

I've enjoyed very much being able to share my blog posts through numerous linky parties. I've been thinking for a while that I'd like to start one of my own. So I've been kicking around various ideas for what might make a good linky party that's not already out there, and I think I've finally arrived at one that would work. So part of what I would like to accomplish in 2021 is to figure out how to set up and maintain a linky party of my own. I will write more about that if and when I manage to figure out how to get one launched. The photo has something to do with my idea, more about that if I get it launched. 

One of the patterns that caught my attention this year was posted with a tutorial by Joy of The Joyful Quilter - the Magic Stars pattern. It's taken up a big portion of my time in the sewing room this year because I chose to make a queen size quilt and then a lap size quilt with the fabric left over from the queen size. I got to add both of those quilts to my 2020 finished projects list. I finished the the queen size quilt on my birthday in November and the small one last week. 

The small one was especially satisfying because it was the first leader/ender project I'd ever tried. When I started blogging I'd never heard of such a thing but read so many blog posts that mentioned it I finally went looking and found Bonnie Hunter and her tutorial explaining what it was and how to do it. What a gift. In a way it felt like my small Magic Stars quilt did come about by magic - because it got pieced so quickly while I was focused on getting other things done. 

I also made a pillow for my niece Abigail from one of the Magic Stars blocks that just didn't fit into the original quilt. The colors were off, but the fabrics were perfect to go with the quilt I gave Abby for her birthday. It is the first time I've made a pillow with a zipper instead of an overlap backing. It was a good learning experience. 

I finished the Stars bed pillow cover to go with the Magic Stars quilt. Different stars than those in the quilt but they look good together. The cats love it and sleep on it often. I made it to keep them off the pillows. 

One of the other things I did this year was join in my very first sew along. It was Pat Sloan's "Cozy".  I joined because it was just one block a week for only 9 weeks and I thought maybe I could actually accomplish that. And I did - all 9 blocks are made. There are still setting blocks to do and then getting it all put together. Just this week I found the fabric at our lqs to use for those setting blocks and to tie it all together. I have so many other projects in progress and ideas for quilts I want to do that I probably won't be doing another sew-a-long this year. 

The funny exception to that is the Jelly Snowflake quilt that I'm currently working on. The sew-a-long from the Fat Quarter Shop is long over but I've seen so many pretty photos of the completed quilts that I decided to make one too. I hope to have the top completed by Monday. It's all in blue and white, just two fabrics, and I'd like to have it as a tablecloth for January, but we'll see if that is a realistic goal. Snow still works for February right? I don't have a valentines quilt so snowflakes should work. 

If you would like to check out the pattern, you can find it along with a YouTube tutorial from Fat Quarter Shop here.

Another 2020 finish is a Christmas runner for my kitchen china cabinet from fabrics left over from the Christmas table cloth I made last January. I quilted the tablecloth for the Christmas in July Blog Hop hosted by Carol of Just Let Me Quilt. My first Blog Hop, and I hope to join in to the same again this year. I have a couple of quilts in mind I would like to have ready for next Christmas. Having the two completed Christmas quilts has helped make my home a little more festive this year, which was good for me since we did stay home and have Christmas alone this year.

That brings me down to the year's end. I've been thinking about what I would like to accomplish in the quilting room in 2021. Though I mentioned previously that I am no good at following plans - especially plans that extend for a year - I think it is a good idea to have some goals in mind. Launching a linky party as I mentioned above would be one big goal for the year, for the rest I think it would be finishing the many works in progress I've got hanging around waiting for my attention. They include the Charm Square Heart quilt, the pink string quilt, the Boot quilt, not a full list. I would like to get the quilt tops I've finished this year quilted in 2021. They include the Ladybug quilt, a stars tablerunner in Fall Colors, and the Afternoon Delight tablecloth for spring. I would also like to get started on another Afternoon Delight tablecloth quilt, start the Stepping Stars tablecloth, make a Christmas tree skirt and a small quilted topper for the drop leaf table in my entry way. And more, I want to do so much more.  I will begin with One Monthly Goal for January, to complete the top for the String Quilt and possibly to get it layered and ready to quilt. 

I'm linking up with: 

Alycia at Alycia Quilts for Finished or Not Friday

Patty at Elm Street Quilts for One Monthly Goal

Angela at So Scrappy for RSC2021

Cynthia at Quilting is More Fun than Housework for Oh Scrap!

Judy of Small Quilts and Doll Quilts for Design Wall Monday

Beth at Love, Laugh, Quilt for Monday Making

Susan at Quilt Fabrication for Midweek Makers

Jennifer at Inquiring Quilter for Wednesday Wait Loss

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Then and Now

I began this post on Oct. 30th, but got interrupted somehow and never got back to finish it. So as you read down the post the first part of each project I discuss was written in October. I then follow up with the current status. Also I've rather fallen off keeping up on the posts of some I follow, I've done a bit of reading each day but have been away from my computer, which is the only device I have that allows me to make comments, so I've missed commenting on some interesting ideas, great work and beautiful quilts. 

Happy Birthday to me and Merry Christmas too for that matter. My birthday/Christmas gift has arrived and I'm thrilled with it. My husband ordered a new quilting frame for me sometime in August and it has arrived. It is a hand made Amish quilt hoop on a stand that tilts and rotates as needed. It's beautiful and works like a charm. I have a large Q-Snap frame that I've used for hand quilting in the past, but the new house does not really lend itself to it's use. The new frame can easily be moved around the house so I can do my hand quilting by my bedroom window, or carry it to the living room to stitch while I'm watching TV - the larger frame didn't fit through any doorway in the house and was a pain to take apart and put back together.  

My floral log cabin quilt has been waiting a very long time for my attention and I'm so excited to be able to finally really get to work on quilting it. I decided when I made it that I wanted to hand quilt it, but it got put aside while I worked on other projects and life interfered with my ability to work on it too. The new frame arrived last week and I've spent a couple of afternoons now working on my quilt. I have to limit my hand quilting time to just a couple of hours at a time because it's making my shoulder hurt. Pain in that shoulder is not new, and machine quilting makes it hurt too. Piecing doesn't bother it though. 

November update: My birthday hasn't arrived yet, but I'm sure enjoying the beauty of my new quilt frame. I've sewn on it in my bedroom by the light of the window and have brought it into the living room to sew while watching TV. It's working out beautifully, but progress is still very slow because I spend more time in the sewing room with my machines than sitting doing hand quilting. I've folded up my log cabin quilt and put a smaller piece I'm hand quilting on the frame. My log cabin is so big that most of it covers a good space of the floor around the frame and if it stays in the same place for long has the ability to attract spiders - ask me how I know.  I'll be linking up with Kathy at Kathy's Quilts for Slow Sunday Stitching.

String Quilt: I've made good progress on my string quilt, though I've been slowed down over the last couple of weeks because our power has been shut off three times over that time period. My plan with getting that pieced was to do four or five blocks first thing each morning, which would have been enough for a small quilt in a short amount of time, the blocks would be complete by now if it hadn't been for the power outages. They are frustrating but better than having another wildfire blow through town on the high winds we get here. The yellow scraps in these blocks are the only yellow I've worked with this month, so my mostly pink blocks will have to do for the October Yellow RSC - I missed the pink month all together so I'm making up for that now. 

November update: I've finished piecing the string quilt. I've been dithering about whether or not to applique something on it. I wanted to put a few butterflies on the front but think I'm going to let that idea go. There are a couple of little ones pinned on but I found the solid colors boring and didn't want to use them. So I pulled out my butterfly coloring book and traced some of the butterflies onto a bit of white fabric. 

 I then
 colored them in with permanent markers and liked the look of them on the quilt. I knew though that I had to make sure they wouldn't run before actually attaching them - which they did when I washed them. So that idea was a fail. In the mean time I've bought some delicious delicate pink cuddle fabric for the back. I have a butterfly quilting template that I will use to get the quilting done, so there will be butterflies, just not quite as I had hoped. I'm linking up with Angela of So Scrappy, with this little gem. 

I'm pleased that I have been able to keep up with Pat Sloan's Cozy QAL. The blocks are published on Wednesdays and our power has been on during the day on Wednesdays so far. Most of the fabrics I'm using for this project are ones I purchased long ago and set aside to wait for their project to appear. I love the color combination of blue and brown. These are not my very favorite fabrics that I originally thought I would use for this project, but they are fabrics that I really like and am glad to finally be using. I've also added a few new fabrics to the mix. I didn't have enough light fabric to use for the background and wanted to add some red to pick up on the bit of red in one of the little star prints. I'm pleased with how the blocks are turning out so far. 

November update: I'm still keeping up with the QAL and enjoying the process of doing a different block each week. This was week five of nine. The challenge is keeping the colors coordinated within each block and between the blocks. I'm not sure that my addition of the red fabric was such a good idea, but I've gone with it so hope that it won't overtake some of the quieter colors. I've not begun to make any of the setting blocks yet, not sure I want to use the court house steps pattern that Pat has chosen for them. No need to hurry on that decision though. Four more blocks to go and that will take me close to Christmas. So I will set the blocks aside to work on sometime next year. I'll be linking up with Susan at Quilt Fabrication for Midweek Makers.

Machine Mess: Besides power outages tension troubles with my Brother 1500s machine stopped my work on the large Magic Stars quilt that I was so close to having finished. It made a horrible mess on the back of the quilt on the last row that I did - the whole row. The problem wasn't showing on the front so I was finished with the row before I discovered the disaster. So during the first of our three outages over the last couple of weeks I spent time ripping out the mess. I also took my machine in for repair. I have it back now but the last two power outages have kept me from getting it going again. I'm afraid the problem isn't actually fixed as I can still see the top thread on the bottom fabric - it shows on the sample that the repair person did. I had quite a conversation with the person who was checking the machine out when I went to pick it up - that what I had brought it in for hadn't been fixed. He said it was normal, the machines they fixed always came out that way. Very frustrating. However, he didn't charge me for the service, and for that I am very grateful and will support his shop in any way I can in the future - except maybe not get my machines serviced there. I'll be linking up with Kelly at My Quilt Infatuation for Needle and Thread Thursday.

November update: My machine is set up and I have yet to do the sample quilting I need to see how it's behaving. I just haven't gotten myself into the space of mind to do it just yet. I did take out the horrible mess from the back of the quilt but haven't moved on to restitching it. I will. I will also be very glad when this quilt is finally finished, it's taken way too long. It has me rather convinced though that if I ever do another quilt that size that I need to just send it out to be quilted. Someone with a long arm machine could do a big quilt like that in a fraction of the time it's taken me. 

My small Magic Stars leader/ender project is coming along nicely - making real progress while working on other things. I would never have thought of getting the piecing done that way but am glad for finding the tutorial about it on Bonnie Hunter's blog. All of the initial piecing is done now and the diagonal cuts are all done. I'm not doing the diagonal seams as leader/ender pieces due to the bias. Once all the bias seams have been sewn I will go back to using the pieces as leaders/enders. I'm trying to get eight or twelve of those bias seams done each morning. If the power outages will hold off for a while I'll be able to get that part done within another week or so. 

November update: Well I still have half a dozen blocks worth of diagonal seams to complete and have sewn most of the completed small squares together into the final blocks. Not what I had intended, but what felt right at the time, as I have been finding lots of things to do while avoiding going back to work on my quilting machine. I've been so pleased with the progress that I've made with this little quilt as a leader/ender project that I've chosen another project to get cut and organized to use as another leader/ender project. More on that below. I'll be linking up with Beth at Love, Laugh, Quilt for Monday Making.

Nine Patch Star blocks: I was making good progress on my Nine Patch Star blocks but got interrupted by one of the power outages, when I got back to the project I messed it up. I trimmed the pieces I was working on, had been trimming pieces prior to the shut off - then when I went back I started trimming again. Somehow though I trimmed too much - took off my seam allowances on the pieces I trimmed. I'm so disappointed and frustrated I'm not sure what to do. I don't have enough of the dark purple scraps to fix the problem. 

November update: After avoiding that problem for a week or so I went back and had another look at it and decided to go ahead and sew the blocks together. It worked out pretty well, not every point is perfect, but then I never get them all perfect anyway. And as they say, 'finished is better than perfect.' The pillow covering is now a quilt top but won't be quilted until after I finish quilting the large Magic Stars quilt. They are intended to go together and the large quilt is the most important part of the project so waiting on the pillow cover isn't an issue. I also have coordinating fabric for making pillow cases to use on that bed. The pillow cover is to keep the cats off the pillows themselves. 

Crochet Project: My crochet project is coming along nicely. It's a simple pattern and I manage to do a few rows every day. It's been another good project to work on while the power has been out. 

November update: I've made good progress on my little crochet project. I do a row or two most every day. It will be a slow project at that rate, but I'm perfectly okay with that. I'm enjoying the process, it's quite relaxing. 

Current new project: I mentioned above that I've chosen a pattern to use with my favorite fabrics. It's from an old book The Simple Joys of Quilting by Joan Hanson and Mary Hickey, it's called Swedish Stepping Stars. I'm dropping the Swedish bit because I'm not using the blue and yellow that makes theirs have that Swedish look. It's a two block pattern using a star block and a stepping stones block. The star block has quarter square triangles and they have a few pages at the beginning of the book detailing their method of making them. I'm not using their approach so have been doing some practice pieces to make sure I've got that bit down before I start cutting anything for the project. I made a tablecloth in fall colors some years ago for my kitchen table and have wanted a runner to go with it for the top of the china cabinet that sits in the dining area by the table. I just happened to pull scraps that will go with it nicely - did one block as a sample. I liked it so much I wanted to do some more and found that I had plenty of scraps of the same fabrics to make three more blocks as well as enough background fabric to make sashing between the blocks. I will be pulling a black fabric from my stash and making a small border for it today. I'll be linking up with Cynthia at Quilting is More Fun than Housework for Oh Scrap! and with Alycia Quilts for Finished or Not Friday

One other thing of note: After chasing, catching, and conquering the little squirrel that was teasing me around the time of my last post I have moved the little book shelf it was intended for out from underneath the collage that I worked so hard to make my little quilt coordinate with and moved it into the sewing room. I had discovered that I could be much more efficient if I could iron my pieces as I pieced them without getting up from the sewing desk. I was using my ironing board, but the only way it fit in the area locked me into the sewing corner and if I needed to get up for some reason I had to move it out of my way. Then last week it occurred to me that my little bookshelf was just the right size to fit into my sewing corner, as well as just the right height for my little pressing mat on top of it. It also gave me a little more storage room in that corner - now I can keep my most used rulers and rotary cutter right there within reach. A win for the sewing room. 

I moved the new quilting frame under the collage in my bedroom to keep the space where the little shelf was from feeling empty. The only bummer is now I don't know where my little squirrel will find a home. 

The quilt I have in the frame at the moment is a whole cloth quilt I started long ago, but only the center is completed. I have too many projects going at once to keep up very well with any of them. It's a wonder I ever get anything finished because I'm always starting new projects that take my attention away from my works in progress. Somehow I can't help myself, too many interesting and exciting ideas.

Comments are always welcome and I try always to respond to each of them when they come in.  Thanks for reading!

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Hello Yellow

Lots going on in the sewing room these days. Five active projects and I'm about to start another one. I'll be joining Pat Sloan for a Quilt-A-Long over the next 9 weeks. This will be an adventure for me as it will be my first ever QAL. I'm mostly using stash fabric though I had to hit the LQS for some background fabric and a couple additional pieces. Most of the fabric I'll be using is stuff I bought because I loved it though I had no plan in mind for it. Some of it I've been hanging onto for many years. Time to use it! I just hope I like the blocks as much as I love the fabric. This project starts on Wednesday, if you want to join you can click Pat Sloan QAL to find the project on Pat's page. 

I'm also continuing to quilt the large Magic Stars quilt and to piece the small version of the same quilt with the fabric left over from the large one. I'm using the small version as a leader/ender project and making very good progress on it. I'm at the point where I need to do some cutting on it and then can go on with more piecing. I'm nearly finished quilting the large version, but have decided that because it is so heavy and hurts my arm and shoulder if I work on it for too long that I can expand my focus and work on other projects too. I usually tend to focus on one project at a time but this quilt is curing me of that. There have however always been occasional squirrels that get me off track from my focus project. That happened last weekend.

SQUIRREL! I'm so glad I decided to chase this squirrel. It did not confine itself to the sewing room either, but ran across the house to the bedroom where I have one of Flo's collages on the wall. I decided I wanted a little quilt on top of the bookshelf that's under the collage. So I spent quite a bit of time dragging various fabric scraps into the bedroom to see how they worked color wise with the collage. Sadly a couple of my first choices didn't work out, and I only realized it after making about 40 HSTs that I just couldn't use. Squirrels can be finicky. So more chasing the little critter from sewing room to bedroom and back. It took a few days but I caught the little thing and am so happy I did. It won't get quilted until I'm done with the Magic Stars quilt but it's a good motivator to keep me going on that project so I can finish this one. 

Hello Yellow! I've also wanted for some time to try my hand at doing a string quilt. I chose pink and yellow for this project and think I have plenty enough scraps to make a fair size quilt. I also have lots of leftover white curtain lining that I used to cover the boards of my design wall. I've cut those into 5.5" squares and am using them as the base for the blocks. I'm doing 4 or 5 blocks each morning before I get into my other projects. I wasn't sure I was going to like it, but I think I really do, it's coming along nicely. It's using up a good bit of my pink scraps, not so much of the yellow as I'm only using yellow in the center. 

It's also gotten me to minimize my actual working space to just the small corner around my sewing desk. I used to work like this when I only had a corner of the living room to sew in, but got away from the practice as I got more space to work in. Having everything right next to me, including my ironing board, is much more efficient. I have some of the tables from Flo's studio in my sewing room and use two of them together as a large pressing table - wonderful for ironing yardage after washing it. I use another two together for my cutting table and that works well too because there is space to spread out. But at the moment when I'm still in the midst of quilting a large quilt I have the tables in a different arrangement and have my pressing mat hanging on the back of the sewing room door. I have a small cutting mat right on my sewing desk and my box of scrap fabrics right behind me on the floor. My rotary cutter, rulers, and scrap basket are right at hand too. I can press fabrics that need it before adding them to the block, press after each addition to the block, and trim the block right there as soon as it's done. My design wall is right behind me so I can put each block up as I finish without having to leave my little corner. It's saving me lots of time. 

A second row of nine patch stars is another current project. These blocks are all scrappy as were those in the first row. This time I have an orange center block and yellow blocks on either side of the center,  and I've switched the teal and green blocks to opposite ends from the first row. These star blocks were also a Pat Sloan QAL but I didn't know about it when she was doing it. I saw the nearly complete top done on her design wall and thought the blocks were just so cute I wanted to try them. I followed her link to another blog for the pattern, and then found later that she had done a tutorial on her own blog as part of her QAL for the project. Think I will link up my project to her space when it's finished even though her QAL was designed to get folks to do a larger quilt. 

Here is the layout for the nine patch centers for each block. Once I've made up my mind about the layout of the pieces in each block I take a picture of them. I rely on the photos to help me keep things in the order I've chosen. If I didn't have them I'd get lost as soon as I started stitching. I do the same thing with each step in the piecing process. 

I've also started a project outside the sewing room. I am crocheting a lap blanket for a new chair we got for the living room last year. I have a number of red accents in the living room so think that a red and gray blanket will work well on that chair even though its fabric colors are somewhat different from that. It's a simple zig zag pattern of single crochet stitches. That's about my speed with crochet. I just want something simple to do while I'm resting between sewing projects and household duties during the day. I've begun with the gray and am ready to add in the red at this point but won't be working on that for a while yet. The cat painting on the wall is one of my favorites of Flo's. It's of Pepper who was Dan's dad's cat, a very big and very sweet boy. 

I'm linking up with Angela at So Scrappy for the 2020 RSC - have actually used a lot of YELLOW scraps this week. 😊 I'm also linking up with Judy of Small Quilts and Doll Quilts for Design Wall Monday,  with Cynthia at Quilting is More Fun than Housework for Oh, Scrap, Beth at Love, Laugh, Quilt for Monday Making, and Kathy at Kathy's Quilts for Slow Sunday Stitching.

I hope your weekend is good and that you get to sew! 

Stay safe and be well. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Happy Scrappy Mug Rug

I got to sew a little on my Bernina this morning. It's been a while because I've been focused on quilting my magic stars quilt on my Brother machine. Our power was out again Sunday and Monday due to a predicted high wind event in our area. And the same fire that sent us running a couple of weeks ago made another approach from a different direction on Sunday night. This time it was a closer community that got the evacuation order. When we got that notice we started packing, once again by flashlight. We had the car loaded and pretty much ready to go when we got the evacuation warning for our location. So we decided to leave and were relieved that the cats were easier to catch and get into their carriers this time. Just about the time we left we heard from a friend who lives on another nearby ridge but who was not in the danger zone. When she found out we were evacuating she made over night arrangements for us so we didn't have to spend the night in the church parking lot again. Once we were settled and had the cats in a room to themselves I let them out of their carriers so they could access food, water, and the litter box. When I opened their carriers they came out cautiously and then, to my surprise, went immediately back in to the opposite carrier from the one in which they had just arrived.We had put them in the closest carrier to them in the moment - but they knew whose carrier was whose and we had it wrong! 

Early yesterday morning we took them back to the vet clinic and left them to be boarded. We got some breakfast in town and then headed home to check up on the situation. We were still under the evacuation warning but as long as there was no update to an order we decided to stay. I spent a little time in the sewing room pulling scraps for a project I want to begin when I'm done with my Magic Stars quilt. But pulling and sorting them was as much as I could do since I couldn't use the iron to press them with the power still out. 

Around 3:00 pm our power came back on, but by then I was too worn out to do much of anything but enjoy the AC. In the evening we went back to Chico and got dinner at one of our favorite burger joints and ate outside on the patio along the main street of town. The smoke had lightened down there significantly by then and there was only a breeze instead of a high wind like there had been all day at our house. It was very pleasant and a much needed break from the stress all the wind, smoke, and fire danger has had us in for weeks now. We spent the night at home and got a very good night's sleep, which we both really needed. We are still under an evacuation warning, but the fire is 95% contained now and the wind has died down to just a mild breeze, so we are feeling reasonably confident that we won't get an evacuation order and have to leave again. We are hoping that the warning will be lifted later today so we can pick up the cats and bring them home too. We don't want to risk having to put them through that trauma again so soon. Though unless we get a nice dousing of unexpected rain we know that we could have to run through this scenario again within the coming weeks. This picture of them was taken in December of 2019 - all peaceful and no idea of what lay ahead for any of us in 2020.  

My magic stars quilt got packed with a churn dash quilt I made for us years ago and they are still in the car, which is still packed and ready to go, just in case. So this morning I started pressing some of the scraps and pulled a few out to make a mug rug for a little table that was Dan's mom's. It's unfinished and needs a little protection. I had fun working with the pink and green scraps and pulling the little piece together without a pattern. I've not done any piecing in that way before and think I could do more of it. I've made a few mug rugs for around the sewing room and one for Dan's study table. I don't bind them. I trimmed this one to size and then used a fancy zig-zag stitch around the outer edge. I've used pinking sheers on the others to help prevent fraying, but the little green strip on this one is so thin it would disappear if I did.

I'm very close to finishing quilting the magic stars quilt, but won't be getting it done by month's end as I had hoped. Losing power and evacuating twice this month kept me from getting it completed as was my One Monthly Goal for September. Another thing that slowed down my progress was my incomplete planning on the quilting itself. Once I got a number of the large square areas quilted as planned I realized that there was too much space left unquilted between them. The empty space is pictured here on the right. I had to add quilting to all those spaces and that extended the amount of quilting time. The motif I used, shown in the photo below can be used for different sizes of areas, instead of four layers of petals I used two layers for these small in between areas. 

Also, when I reached the outside edge I found that I had large triangles between the quilted squares that I hadn't planned any quilting for, so had to come up with a way to get that quilted too. It took me quite a while to figure something out that would work with the quilting I had already done. The picture on the left shows the sunflower quilting pattern I'm using. I marked it using white taylor's chalk, something I've not used before. It's worked out quite well showing up on the light and dark fabrics. I'm hoping it will come completely out of those dark fabrics once I wash the quilt. I've been using a stiff bristled paint brush to wipe it off after quilting the motif, and the darkest of the fabrics are still showing some of the chalk. The outer triangles are the last of the quilting that needs to be done, but I have not started them yet. 

One other issue has slowed down my quilting on the magic stars quilt. Suzette has claimed it for her own and thinks that she is entitled to possession of it while I am working on it. She can get very feisty if I try to pick her up off of it too, but going into the pantry and pulling out one of her kitty treats works every time. She knows that sound and hops down and comes to meet me as soon as she hears it. Then she gets closed out of the sewing room so I can work. The quilt is queen size and heavy enough without her extra 10 pounds. She must be confused about the "queen" designation of the quilt and think it's hers because she's the Queen. 

Well the day is getting on and I should attend to a little housework. No word yet about the evacuation warning for our area being lifted. I hope it comes soon. 

I'm linking up with Cynthia of Quilting is More fun than Housework for Oh Scrap!

I'm linking up Patty at Elm Street Quilts for One Monthly Goal.

Stay safe and be well - Happy Quilting!