Saturday, December 31, 2016

House Block #15

Its getting down to the end of the block assembly, though there are 4 bird appliqués that need to be added, as well as the sashing that forms grass between the rows and borders before the top is considered done and ready for basting. 

I am experiencing all sorts of feelings as the year ends. I am not really one to make New Year's resolutions but do set goals as I have here on the blog. I think with all the celebrity deaths being shouted out with the accompanying 'oh no!' that is it easy to sink into wondering who is next. Is someone in the family next? Friends? Me? Its probably common which is why people feel the need to do resolutions.

This block is pieced, not pressed and not trimmed. An individual block makes me almost groan, yet I know that the whole quilt will be sweet.

The last one is rather geometric with herringbone fabric and stripes. I shake my head at all of these and remember that this is a mystery quilt, so you 'git whatcha git and you don't throw a fit!'

Meanwhile I am listening to an audiobook of an old book and trying to be open to learn.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Step 6 Complete

I feel like Steve Martin who always used to say, "I am one crazy guy!" when I look at the way this mystery quilt is looking. 


This is what I got accomplished....all these pieces put together and yet not. Jeeze. Mystery Quilts! Well, I am using up a lot of scraps. These are not supposed to be joined yet, I just put two piles together for the picture. This was the clue for the month of January.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

House Block of the Month Row 3

It is quite easy to let 'resolutions' slip away even when they are not for the New Year. I rarely make such things and do what I can while I can. However, I am committed to shopping from my closets, using what I have before buying more out in the stores. Its a song I have been singing on this blog for some time. I pulled out the bins, yet again, printed off my blog side-bar list of UFO's and set the first group in one bin with project #s on them.

Additionally, I made up a 3-ring binder with a template for swap exchanges I do on Swap-bot. I've opted out of most groups and swaps and plan to focus on ones I host first. Two other groups I stayed in have multi-partners and usually only do electronic or flat mail swaps, so there is little crafting in them. The 3-ring binder is one of my 'resolutions' to help me stay focused. The template I created lets me write information regarding what I sent in the swap and to whom. It also lets me know what I received. I usually only go to the PO once a week, so I left a space to record how much I spent. I actually don't know.

Getting organized isn't new to me. Its not about having order as much as it is being able to find something or being reminded about something. Perhaps people get organized for different reasons. I know when I was younger, much younger, organization was because Mother said so. She didn't teach me why or really how. That came much later in life.

I've continued to work on the House Block BOM quilt and have the third row pieced. I have 2 of the house blocks pieced on the last row and am working on the last 2 house blocks. Then I have to go back and add the bird appliqués. It is my plan to use scraps from a Cardinal print. Its going to be a lovely quilt. I have a lot more to do on it. These last two blocks are going together easily. Some of the other quilters went to the store and purchased those 10" layer cakes so that their fabrics coordinate. Mine is scrappy and has a slightly wild look about it. I did put thought into my selections so that each block was coordinated. Like any neighborhood, house colors and styles are up to the individual.

Each year, I set some quilting goals. And for 2017, it is to work on the UFO's. It would be nice to finish them one after another, but I will be content if they just get to the next stage. I will, however, continue to shop first from my own closets.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Prayer Flag for Aquarius New Moon

I got outside this morning to bury compost, jiggle the lights and replace the downed tree. Ornaments had fallen too. Its all working tonight. Then I got under a couple of quilts and read.

My only accomplishment was making the Aquarius New Moon Prayer Flag. It took me awhile to write up my choices for it, find the fabric and stitch the one line that makes up the sleeve. Not a big project but one that is done. 

I also worked on piecing parts to various other quilts that are going. I am not sure why it matters to me when I finish something because I know that this is all a journey, a process. That is where, they say, is the true joy.

Who are they to tell me that?

I am caught up in this book. Starhawk wrote the first of this trilogy many years ago. Most of the time authors continue their storyline where it left off like walking into the next room. She let the years lapse on the characters as if they were in real time.

I knew her when we both lived in MN, and what is amazing about this story is that it actually is written by a person who has also aged and knows what it means to be older. I've always said that people write about aging who are still young and haven't got a clue as to the reality. Well, the fact is, this is real, and part of me is rebelling against its truth.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

To Get Through the Day

I finished one of the unfinished baby grrrlie-grrrl crib quilts today, and have it packaged to ship out in tomorrow's mail. No. No photo. Maybe somewhere, but that part is beginning to be more of a standard practice to my quilting than an occasional glitch.

Today was simply not a feel-good day. One of my Paternal Aunties (by marriage) passed on my Cousin's Christmas birthday. Yes, her Daughter. So my mild whatever-it-is hardly compares to that grief which will always come on her Christmas Birthday. I really love all my Aunties, so watching them decline hasn't been easy. I guess it points to my own mortality and that is something most people want to avoid thinking about.

We know it is a part of life.

Anyway, I just wanted to keep busy. Yesterday's storm took out all my outdoor lights and threw the pre-lit tree behind the shed. It was just under freezing with a few inches of snow so I stayed inside. I cleaned the studio (yet again...does cleaning ever get done???) and sorted my current projects. I didn't get to labeling them all because I struggled with an upset tum. 

My current goal for January 2017 is to finish the top to the House Block BOM that will go to the youngest of my Great-Nieces, and piece the Summer Row for the Seasons quilt. The House Block BOM actually needs some appliqués on it, so it is far from finished. I changed my mind about project #2 for February, and more of that as time gets closer. 

For tonight, I am drinking tea and relaxing.



Saturday, December 24, 2016

My Tent Block

While I am not finished with this tent block, it is done enough for me to go onto other things, like other pointy things.

The first pattern I found was a paper piecing and this one was more traditional. As it was, I had a hard enough time following the directions and feel good just getting it done. I might have mixed up the inside flap with the tent inside, and then the blue background was of other scraps that were not that cloudy fabric. It was just complex enough for me to call it done rather than to take out a ripper and go for it over again.Somewhere there is a bear fabric that might have something I can use as an appliqué and also one for the top of the tent. I know it will be just right on the quilt.

I worked more on BOMs and have a mess in here, so plan to stop for now and rest. It snowed outside last night so just a teeny tiny colder in here. 

Ripping out the small details is like ruminating over past Holidays. ... best to leave them in the past where they belong.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Why I Go For Mystery Quilts

It has been said that the two deep needs every human has are for acceptance and love (to be loved & to love). 

Sometimes I wonder if that is why I quilt. I need to know that the people I love find meaning in what I do.  Sometimes I really yearn for connectedness, and I have found a way to make that happen that suits my abilities and interests. It brings me joy to create a quilt, especially by using the scraps, leftovers and throw-aways from others.


I joined another mystery quilt for a group I found on Facebook. The group is actually at step 5, so I have been busting it to catch up. The first part was selecting FQ fabrics. After going through my stash, there is a whole bin of holiday pieces, plus a mini drawer container of cut pieces. Step 1 was to make 4-patches out of 2.5" squares. I had a lot of them pre-cut, so this step was easy and fast. Obviously mine is a scrap quilt so matching fabrics is not that big of a deal.

Step 2 was to make these HST (half square triangles) combining lights with medium/dark pieces. It was easier than I've done before and they all turned out! Step 3 is a bit more complex. It is the Flying Geese pattern. I cut and pinned the pieces and have them at the machine. They take longer to do. I remember that this is a monthly mystery quilt, and I just did 3 months of work in a day!

I like to make quilts with specific people in mind so I can put energy in it for them. I am working on 2 other quilts that were mysteries. The House Block quilt goes to my Great-Niece Sophia, so that one has been easy (until I substituted a pattern for one block) and the top is almost finished. The last block just got revealed for the last row, and so I hope to have IT finished this month. The Seasons Row of the Month for December was also just revealed. I bought blue fabric with clouds on it for the foundation and can get started on it this weekend.

All three quilts helped me with my goal to shop from the closet. Yet, with January, I must keep working on the UFO's. If they help me stay connected, then part of my process is to figure out who they will go to. I have an idea for both and yet want to see how they unfold just a little bit. I have hated the mystery quilts and yet have loved them at their finishes.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Cutting Scraps

This seems like a practical solution to thinning down the pieces of fabric. It always makes me think about how honest I am with what I have in these bins. When fabric is just tossed in, unfolded, it looks like so much. Then the next stage is to fold all the pieces and colorize them. This too, looks like a lot of stash.

Yet, when I take the time to cut off the cut-into ends of the pieces and get these usable squares, then it really cuts down how much space it takes and shows me that I am making progress by shopping from my closet. Of course the wastebasket holds the smaller slivers. I made enough of those pet beds to last awhile and so am sending these bits to the landfill. I have to be honest to say that I want to find better solutions for the scraps, but this is as good as it gets for me.

I bought one yard 'cloud in the sky' fabric for both of my BOM projects and will cut carefully. At first I was looking for 2 different fabrics and realized that there would be more scraps in my stash if I did and just backed away from getting too much. Honesty comes in so many guises. It is a benefit to life as well as a burden. It takes time to plan, think, and remember values. I understand that sometimes it is easier to just buy something already done and not go through all the steps it takes to make something.

My new book is futuristic. The community in it struggles with having enough simple resources to survive. Some of them were raised with chemically made food wafers and cannot tolerate the taste of real food, preferring the chemicals and salty flavor. As the other side of the community urges them into eating natural, both sides stand firm in their conviction that their way is the right way. I think we do this in our here and now, in our families, among our friends and with strangers. Our good values divide us too often.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Cloud Fabric

I broke down and bought a yard of fabric. I need sky fabric for two quilts I am working on, both of them those BOM quilts. I thought about getting a clearer sky for the Seasons, but this month takes us to the Ocean and usually I get there in the morning when the sky is not yet clear.

My time is not going to be spent quilting for awhile. I just got a new book by Starhawk, CITY OF REFUGE, and plan to read. The audiobook is yet to be released.

Tonight, I am going to a Drum Ritual in a near-by town and already made a salad to spread on crackers as my shared-dish.

I did join a new mystery quilt(yet again) and will sort through my stash to fine 15 assorted lights, and 12 assorted mediums and darks. I will enjoy using up pieces and shopping from my closet. But first the book.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

ooops forgot the picture, yet again

Well, the last of the FB14 quilts is getting shipped out. It is in a box, wrapped, taped and labeled. Of course I didn't take a photo and looking back, I didn't take a photo. So none. I'll email her once she gets it and ask for one so I can post it.

In one way, its fun to look back and see what I have done and in another way, I am not looking for credit. This one was a Hallows theme and was a panel, plus lots of coordinating fabric in it. Gosh I should take it apart. No. My first plan to have her take a pic of it is best. I will need to wait.

What I started working on was the catch-up to the House Block quilt-along. I found a much better pattern for the tent block I want to use to make up for the sailboat pattern I really didn't think fit. Then, the last block pattern was released, so I am auditioning colors from my stash for it. When these two blocks are finished, the quilt top goes onto the UFO list.

Then, another Row of the Month pattern was released for the Seasons quilt. It is designed by a woman in Australia and they are experiencing Summer. So the pattern calls for a blue sky with beach balls, ice cream cones and treats on a stick. I need to shop for the right summer sky blue for the background before going much further. 

So no pictures. 

Well, here is a SnowBird, which is a Bohemian Waxwing that is around here right now. I am hosting a new swap for participants to research the bird and send what they learn to their partner. The swap asks for their habitat, coloring, strengths so that it becomes a Winter Spirit Guide. No one has joined yet. I think my swaps are too evolved for the ordinary person.

Monday, December 19, 2016

As Good As It Gets

I am satisfied with how the studio looks right now. I have seen some really amazing rooms done with walls of tools and everything so very neat. Mine is not like that. There are four big mirrored closet doors that conceal what is behind them when they are closed, and reflect what is in the room. 

Thomas Merton once said that "Perhaps I am stronger than I think." And in the case of being a housekeeper, this applies to me as I do this work. "Perhaps I am more organized than I think!" The desk and work station are both cleared and cleaned, as is the floor, all the bins and the ironing board. I am ready to start my 2017 projects with comfort and ease.

One of the meaningful projects I learned through Swap-bot was to create Art Journals-my way. My way is not through drawing or painting but through writing. One easy gift I have received are those journals or date books. I used to gift them onward and even tossed some away. Not any more. There is a term called 'ephemera' which means items that exist, are used or enjoyed for a short time.

As I cleaned, some of that short-term stuff would surface usually headed for the trash. Well, in the Art Journals-my way, I am gluing them on one side of the journal as a form of art. I simply am not a painter nor do I draw. I can glue and I love quotes. So that is on the left side of each page in the journal. On the right side is a letter I am writing to someone who can still read my handwriting. The entire journal is a piece of EPHEMERA, and is meant to be read and tossed. As a journal, it is a scant picture of my day or a couple of my days.

Now, of course, the recipient has to decide if they will keep it or toss it but that is their business, not mine. I am recycling and repurposing things that gather around me. I plan to do this whenever someone from Swap-bot sends me a blank journal or datebook.

It has been a productive weekend, and this room is as good as it gets. I am happy with how it looks and feels. I can go forward into the future of my projects and complete things that have been unfinished.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

At Least the Desk

This antique desk is a challenge. The drawers cannot go shut or it locks and then a long stick goes in the front slot to push a metal mechanism open. So my habit is to leave them all a little open.

William Woodsworth was quoted to say: "All the mighty world of eye and ear, both know what they half create, and what they perceive." The desk is as clean as it needs to be. What is not seen is the box of boxes and packing material that is organized, wrapping paper put away, clothes hung up and fabric bins set back into the closet. Oh its not done by any means but a lot of progress made.

Woodsworth is spot on in my opinion. Our senses compare what they sense to what others say is right or wrong to sense and then we judge. In my case, I judge what is left to do more than the energy that is changing in the room. By clearing off the spaces, they are ready to be cleaned. It is not enough to merely clean off the desk or the work station or the floor. I will need to clean and perhaps apply an oil or polish to this old desk and to the work tables and to the floor. I've got a wintergreen candle burning, which touches my soul this time of year. 

Veggies have been harvested from the garden and will go into a soup for Sunday meals. This is what December is like after all the rush is over. Relaxing, readying.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Studio is Trashed

After waiting in line at the PO yesterday, I knew my next project had to be cleaning up of my studio. It had become a war zone. I was dumping everything in here as it to hide it like a little kid does when she thinks no one is looking.

The desk, my work station and the entire room is just chaotic. The first thing I did was to clean the adjoining bathroom. Next, I have to work my way from the North side of the room to the South closets. There is no way I want to work on a quilting project until things are clean.

There is a lot of posting about the 12 Days of Christmas swap. It is fun to see what everyone gets. So far, my partner has been giving me a variety of fabrics; 6 pieces were Fat Quarters, 10 were five different cat fabrics in 10" squares, and a few strips came with a pattern to make a folded star. I am very pleased.

And now to clean.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Containers are Filled

The challenge is going to be finding containers for the Pizzelles. Perhaps I didn't think ahead with this. I forget that the Pizzelles are as big & fragile as they are. Every year I go through this. I have some smaller cardboard boxes that may serve. I got all the other dolce packed in containers, and do have flat rate boxes ready to pack. Once I get them packed for shipping, then the boxes I saved get recycled. This is my last push for the season. 

As the holidays get closer, there are more 'quick' quilting project ideas out. I always think they are good to start on for next year, but never get to them even though I want to do this and could do it. I think that one year, I will devote myself to making all sorts of little things that I have found patterns for and have in books. 

Well, it will be enough to finish the UFO's this year. And while I do not have red hair, this patch serves me well. It is huge to finish projects before starting new ones. I haven't figured out how to actually do that but the theory is good.

I have been working on the first of 15 embroidered blocks for the last of the bird quilts and find myself swearing under my breath and to myself about it. I hope the mistakes have been made only with this one, and that the remaining blocks will go faster and without so many hitches. One hopes.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Week About Dolce

Dolce is the word for sweets or treats. The 15th is the last PO day to ship to get things delivered by the holidays. I just want them out and still fresh by the time they get there. To that end, I started making things that need to mellow, like the honeyballs and the rum balls. So that part is done. I'm not making a lot for each household, just tastes of this and that. I have a few more items and then lastly, will make up the Pizelles.

Pizzelles are made two at a time on this iron that looks like a waffle iron only with the end cookie a lot flatter. The batter is made with anise flavoring and lemon, plus anise seeds, so not everyone likes them, but for those that do, these are a taste of heaven.

Mother used to mix up several batters for a variety of tastes. One was plain vanilla. And yet, next to the anise one, seemed almost tastefree. Another was lemon. While all of them are good, I still like and only make the anise version. One moves quickly with this cookie as they take 30 seconds or less for each pair. Its another one of those time intensive projects that you cannot walk away from with any success.

I am always surprised that they get to their destinations relatively unbroken, though if some do break, they are still good, down to the last crumbs.

My dolce are all non-bake this year. A little later, I have a birthday gift of a special biscotti I am making. My friend will receive the entire batch unless some break and I HAVE to eat them. Biscotti are twice baked and for some reason always seem to turn out in this higher altitude where others do not.

My Sons are always eager to get this particular package, and now both of their elder children are on their own, so that increased the number of houses I send to each year. I feel on track with the prep work and can see myself in line by the 14th. A day early.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Kicking Around

My task, for this moment, is to stay within myself. I am trying to learn how to measure myself or in fact, know myself well enough to acknowledge the effort and desires I put into all I do. Because I am 'finished' with projects for 2016, I can run a different kind of race in my mind. Right now, it is about planning for what I will do next year in 2017.

I woke up feeling so good. My cookie baking has turned into more of an assembly of ingredients. I am trying to put less stress on myself for this activity. Like everyone who tries to eat healthy, I don't want excess sweets nor do my family members. 

HOWEVER, we all crave the tradition, so each box will contain a few of every batch, and only one batch of this and that is getting made.

I think I have everything ready to go, and even brought home flat rate boxes from the PO to send things off without worrying about varying costs. I know what each package will cost and the plastic containers holding everything fits.

And then there is the 'to-do' list at the side of this blog. As I go through fabrics, it is easy to add things. And knowing myself well enough, I know that I have to keep busy on a number of levels. These UFO's are essential to finish but they do not have an end game for me in the way that all the other years did when I made quilted projects for specific people. It is a challenge for me NOT to have another new idea for another new plan that creates another new project.

I am really outside my comfort zone this year, so it will be interesting to see what happens.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

December Row of the Month

This month, the Seasons ROM facilitator wanted us to add the 2.5" squares 2-wide to the sides. I am doing 3-wide rather than 2-wide and love how it looks. It is actually a 6" border, which I like better than a 4" (2 wide).


This project finishes up using the sewing machine for the year, so I am unplugging it and putting a cover over it for awhile. Admittedly, when I first started working with these shapes, I wasn't thrilled with it, and now as it evolves, I am falling in love with it. It will be one of a kind as I do not expect to do another one on my own. As of this moment, it doesn't have a designated recipient, which I like to have so I can put specific energy into it. Right now, it is joy and that is probably enough.

I am not sure how the transfers I made will do for the last of the bird quilts, so I made two and have them ironed on and ready for embroidery. I found the specific colors for both blocks and have them ready to embroider later. Once I start on them, I would like to do all 15, so hope-hope-hope this iron-on product works.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

UFO #1 is Finished!

I always feel better when I finish a project, and this one was a UFO for so long. I had it on a standing oval loom that was set behind the South door, so it wasn't in the way. It had been for my Mother who went through changes in her health and changes in her residency. It just wasn't finished on time to give her and I guess that by not doing that a part of me was not accepting that she no longer had a home but was confined to smaller and smaller rooms. And that really was less an issue than how her cognitive abilities had waned.

It is hand quilted and of course the binding is finished by hand. I packed up the standing loom and took it to a thrift store in town. I figured that people shopping there either would buy it as a gift or be able to buy it inexpensively for themselves.  I have other looms in the event that another project shows up that I want to hand quilt.

I think this year will be good for me as I finish more of the projects if this one is any measure. I could see the best in myself come out, and I could also see how finishing it was healing. I wondered where it would go where someone receiving it would like it. Unless a person does fabric arts, they cannot value or appreciate the work in it.  

At first I thought to offer it on Facebook, but then joined a swap that celebrates Spring. The gold fabric here is a hand dyed batik as a daffodil print, and the center squares are also daffodils. So it will go as part of that swap. The backside of the runner is the gold print so it could be reversed. 

I am ahead of my own timing. This was #1 on the list and was to be completed by the end of January. #2 is a bird quilt, start to finish. The first thing I need to do is print off patterns on that iron-on paper and iron each one onto a cotton square. I'll do one page at a time and hopefully can make the transfers for a number of blocks. Then the embroidery work starts. Each of the bird quilts has 15 blocks. This is the last of them to be created. And now, I will have 12 weeks to work on it before I set it aside and go onto project #3. Pictures to follow.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Shopping for St. Nick's

Its been a long time since I started the tradition of buying myself a gift for the feast of St. Nicholas. Today was no exception. I needed green fabric to finish up 2017's #1 UFO, and went into Debbie's Fabrics here in town.


Actually on my list was another bottle of Best Press. Then I found THIS scent and the sale was mine! I am not quite out of the other, and won't start cutting and pressing until next month. But this scent is thrilling for me because both Frankincense & Myrrh are quite healing aromas. 


I spent the rest of the early afternoon cleaning the studio and now my desk is left. The most recent FAERIE MAGAZINE came too with 'Naughty & Nice' as its issue theme. I may settle in and read for awhile. The stories and photos are always amazing, but this issue is thrilling!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Celebrating the 12 Days

I am as done with the (Row Of the Week) House Block Neighborhood sew-along as I care to be for right now. I will make copies of the last two patterns when they are released and perhaps select fabrics. Everything is in a plastic package.


The boat as block #14 simply did not appeal to me. I found this tent pattern and will add some simple triangles in a green fabric to fill in on the light background. Very simple pieces and much more my style than the sailboat. The quilt has been evolving on its own and is quite wonderful.

And now, its time for me to settle into December. I need to give the house a good clean (even though my housekeeper comes this week too) and then finish decorating. My small tree is one of those 'out of the box and plug it in'. I want to go through the decorations and take some to the thrift store. Its a splendid way to downsize.

I've set up a couple of exchanges on Swap-bot that celebrate the 12 Days. One is called Mother Night and starts the 12 day count on December 20. This one is a candle exchange with each of the 12 Days symbolizing a virtue that both the sender and recipient can invoke for the coming year. The other one is a 'pick 2' package where each day is identified with traditional aspects, and so the sender can select 2 of the days, sending the assigned partner 2 wrapped gifts. There are less than 10 people interested in them, but it does mean I need to do some work for my part. Additionally, I've got a few other swaps that will also take my time. I don't want to just dash off trinkets.

And then the month also starts my dolce preparation. The kitchen spaces need to be spotless before I start, and of course it is a mess to clean up after as well.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Almost Caught Up

Playing catch-up is something kids do. I was the oldest in my generation so didn't play with kids in my family, but did play with others on the playgrounds and back fields. I ran after the older ones with the best of them. So playing catch-up with this quilt-along evokes those kind of childhood memories.

I joined row #2 and have row #3 almost all finished and ready to join. The biggest challenge is getting them to be the correct hight and then the correct width. I would add more of the background wherever additions are needed. If I am lucky, there will be enough for the last remaining blocks and everything will work. What is fun about scrap quilting is that a quilter can piece pieces and no one is the wiser.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Blocks 8, 9 & 10

After getting so confused with small pieces, I organized and pinned pieces together. Today, I finished three more blocks and cut pieces for the next one. I will check the measurements and join four blocks for another row.



I have to keep busy right now in order to forestall the seasonal anxiety that always comes for me. Three more block patterns were released by the quilt-along group, and so I am still three blocks behind. This is becoming such a scrappy quilt and, others are being made by purchasing new fabrics such as layer cakes so all the colors and all the houses coordinate. This is my choice to be scrappy. To use what I have in my closet.

This morning's mail brought me 5 small pieces of coordinating fabrics someone wanted to pass along. It makes me laugh how fabrics keep being added to what I have. Good I suppose because it means having new fabrics to use.

 

Friday, December 2, 2016

More of the House Blocks

I spent the night making sure I had the scraps for each block, cutting and pinning where and when I could.

These aren't getting joined until the colors are right or with a flow, and each row can have houses that shift but need to stay on the same row for sizing. I've given up the thought of making it patriotic and am using what colors are here. These two, for instance are switched and a bigger block goes in between them, with a smaller one at the end. The darker brown pinwheel is modified too because the way the pattern had it was just too chaotic. This works with just four blades on it. As soon as the remaining blocks are finished, the row of 4 blocks can be joined. Not sure if it will have a border defining them as of yet. Also, rather than to do pieced appliquéd birds, I found a length of fabric with different Cardinal images that will work. It is my all-time favorite bird and they are the same size as the pattern. Wooot!

I'd like to say I am feeling stress free, but the car battery died when I was out running errands and the mechanic is looking for a replacement. Temps have plummeted and its windy and cold outside and chilly indoors.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Last Quilt of 2016

Binding is finished and it is wrapped for shipping. It still amazes me how scrap quilts turn out. As always, the recipient was on my mind as I finished it. She is planning another surgery and will have this to snuggle under during her recuperation.

I got the lights strung in front. I do them inside so they are easy to hang over the small nails I put in years ago. I used to decorate the house and yard every year, and just got tired of fighting the cold and dealing with random bulbs going out and messing up the whole strand.

Anyway, her quilt is thrown over my loveseat and is down right gorgeous. I turned the corner to show a bit of the back, which was another piece that had no projected goal. The pattern for the center is called a 'granny square' and the border is a modification of the 'piano border'. I had so much of that purply color and used quite a bit of it. Now both the purply and the back fabrics will get cut into pieces themselves and blend in.

Not being able to sit still is my SuperPower, so I cut & pinned pieces to one of the next blocks for the ROW quilt along. Its only for the top and I have no idea how I will do the back.  I can be casual with it and take my time.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Everyone is Playing Catch-up

I am in two of those BOM's; one is a Row of the Month and the other is a Row of the Week, for crying out loud! As much as I love both of them, I started feeling a little bit of pressure, so was glad when the facilitators said they were taking time off this month. I got one set of lights hung on three windows in my front. I string them together and put them on a timer. I watered plants, pulled off dead leaves and made soup. The other three strands are lying on the futon waiting. Busy morning. 

My last quilt is 3/4 finished for the binding and could ship out on Tuesday. Its raining and blowing outside but not leaking on that studio window frame. It looks cold out and so being under a quilt feels cozy.

It is so nice to take time off from quilting because my next project is to make some non-bake dolce (sweets) to send to family. Nice not to be conflicted. I'll get this one off and then turn to what needs doing in the house and gardens for awhile.

I have my plan for 2017, agreed with myself not to make more things for gifts, and slowed down with the exchanges on Swap-Bot. I feel really good about it.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Annual Shopping Trip

The Saturday after Thanksgiving is my annual shopping trip to Bakersfield, where I go to Cost Plus Market and then out to lunch. Its easy to drop a couple hundred dollars. Among things I bought, were a couple of birthday gifts, teas, a jar of ginger jam, a Winter Sweater for my Cat, a Panetonne, a soup mix, and a 12-pack of Winter Beers. All of these are items I cannot get in town. Then I went to a movie, and by the time I got home, it was snowing!

I am working on binding the last quilt of the year. It is truly a scrap quilt, but really lovely. It is my hope to finish it and get it shipped off by Tuesday. I need to wrap one of the birthday gifts for mailing, finish some exchanges for Swap-Bot and address my holiday cards. 

It is also the weekend that I put up the indoor lights. The weather turned so darned cold and windy that first of all, I am glad the grass project is complete, and then second, when it gets nice again, I want to take up last year's fairy lights and replace the portions that don't work. I really love having the back garden lit.

This is what I traditionally do the weekend after Thanksgiving.

I thought about the UFO project list and know I've given each of them a month. I won't pressure myself by saying they will be finished. It is a month to work on them and at least bring them through another step. It seems that this will honor the process of what I do.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Blocks #3-4

I worked on the house blocks and finished #3 & 4. What a challenge they are for me. I've stopped whining now and printed off the instructions for the next row, and even pulled out fabrics for them. Because there are not enough scraps to do my patriotic theme, it will require shifting to let the colors flow better.

People talk about tolerance and acceptance of differences all the time until the time they have to deal with it personally. Then all bets are off and judgment returns. It would be so easy to move houses and people and countries around so that they coordinate better.
I've been reading the 'real' story of the pilgrims and Natives. I've known it for most of my life, but people discover their truth as they are able to receive it. Perhaps the recent protests spark their discovery. And again, all my life, I have stood up for the indigenous people, so its not new. 

As I watch more of the quilt samples unfold, it strikes me how pleasant the solid colors are and so I am going to try and do more solids if possible. Although I re-did the tree on block #1, I do not plan to rip and re-do any others. If that happened, the quilt might go under many re-dos. It will be what it is.

I also worked on the last quilt of 2016 some more but have several stitch lines to finish before it is ready for binding. It is starting to bother me that the tension will not hold, but, again, it is doing the job for now.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Nothing to Show for a Good Day's Work

Admittedly, I like action movies. I must have lived another life as leader who was comfortable in battle, with all its strategy, and violence. In this lifetime, I prefer a peaceful life and do live one. No matter how brave we are, how well fitted with armor and tactics, reality gives way to that gritty experience. I don't want to train under adverse conditions. Let the Marines do that. Maybe my battle is internal and all fought in my mind, in my thoughts.

There are no photos of what is happening here in the studio.

I am halfway finished with the machine quilting on the last quilt finish for the year. My machine doesn't hold its tension as good as I would like but good enough to keep going. For as much as I use it, it has served me well. I am glad this is the last of the year for that reason.

I exchanged the two pine branches for darker colors on block #1. It meant ripping the lighter ones out and starting over. Then I worked on #3. Good goddess, what was I thinking to work with those half square triangles (HST)???? Its all turning out, but taking really a long time. This quilt is a block of the week not a block of the month. The only pressure to work on it comes from me. I've pinned what could work and will piece it later today.

It took me awhile to find the 'nurse' fabric only to discover it wasn't long enough. That switched the theme of #6. As it happens, there is not enough to do the patriotic theme with reds and blues for the quilt, so Its going to have other shades of blue that include aquas. Its going to be wonderful no matter how it turns out.

What is important is that scraps are being used!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Quilt-Along Color Choices

With the first two blocks done, I started cutting for the next two blocks. These are big blocks when finished, take more material than I thought. I keep looking at the tree in the first one and don't like the lighter green in it. I wonder how much work it would be to rip it and add two other pieces.




The concept of do-over is interesting anyway.




I also printed off the next row of blocks and browsed group pics in order to get a feel for what works and what didn't. There are two of the blocks that I am not wild about, but after browsing, do have a better idea of what I can make. It is my hope that there is enough fabric to finish this using the various reds, and blues. Of course, other colors exist on the quilt but are meant to be more in the background.

After using the kids/nationality flags material, I think they just get lost. If I had more solids to work with, that busy print would find its voice. They just get lost in what I have to work with. I fear I have limited myself by saying this would be patriotic and pulling out the reds and blues. I am already asking myself what I was thinking. Well it will evolve as it does, and I will simply be ok with however it turns out.

I love scrap quilting and love shopping from my closet.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Quilt-Along Blocks #1-2

It was challenging to work with half square triangles. I know I said I was done with them, however, most house blocks have pointed roofs. 

I finished the first two and made them in red to resemble (in my mind) a farm house, barn and silo. Red needs to be used sparingly or it dominates the project so it will be interesting to see how this evolves. Again, scrap quilting is challenging simply because of the matching it requires.

I want to turn my attention to the quilt next and get it on the machine. I did spend time with swap bot exchanges and am caught up with them. After some sticker shock at the PO, I have withdrawn from a lot of swaps for now, and the ones I kept were ones I am hosting and actually created.

Monday, November 21, 2016

House Block Quilt-along

I couldn't get to sleep thinking about this new scrappy quilt. One of the things that some quilters say about scrap quilting is that they don't like the chaos of it and that they need a plan. Well. It seems smart to have a plan.

I have three Great-Nieces. Their Mother passed a few years ago and their Daddy has remarried. The blue Bird Quilt is for the oldest, and the Hallows blackwork is for the middle grrrlie-girl. I didn't have a plan for the youngest, whose birthday is the day after the 4th of July.

Moda puts out a free pattern on: moda-be-my-neighbor-2016/ 
There are 16 blocks to the quilt, plus sashing and borders to finish it up. I went through several ideas for it and then realized that I didn't have a quilt concept or pattern for this youngest of my Great-Nieces. Of course, I could pull out red, white and blues, with a few accents thrown in for contrast. The challenge for me will be to use red sparingly. It can really dominate anything creative. I made the first two blocks in reds because they look barn-like to me. Now, to find some interesting squares with faces or animals to go in the windows. 

Well, to bed, to bed, says sleepy head. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Ahead of my Game

Yup. that's right. Over my lifetime, I've been told I am an over-achiever, a Personality Type A, and having perfectionist tendencies. Just because I finished all my projects for the year didn't mean I could stop. My closet is still full. And I am still able to quilt.

I continue to hand quilt the table runner and spent time cutting and piecing some scrappy blocks for the back of the blue Bird Quilt.

After joining these into 8 rows, I set it aside and returned to the table runner. 

Another thing I did recently was to join a quilt-along group using a Moda pattern. Its for a scrappy quilt, so it touches on two of my interests, scrap quilting and house blocks.

The hardest thing about any scrap quilting is selecting fabrics. For instance the blues in that back have just enough contrast colors to make it interesting. 

The new quilt-along isn't a mystery quilt for one reason that I am so far behind the group and was able to down load the patterns. I printed off the general finishing information and the first row of 4 blocks. Because it is a scrappy quilt, each block breaks out what is needed to make the house and accessories. Then quilters look through their stash and select what is needed, block by block.

As I looked at pictures of the work others posted, some used one background fabric and others used a different one for every block. That has to be the way I go because I simply do not have any neutrals to do it any other way.

For whatever reason, this is as close as I can get to being random. Its as close as I can get to being artistic. All I know is that when I quilt, I do the best I can and just hope it turns out. Actually, every once in awhile, I didn't like a finish, but let it go. That is huge for me. But it has to happen sometimes.