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.     

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Quilting for the Future

It is said that we feel the most anxious when we live in the future and when we are depressed, its because we are living in the past.

I took the list of 2017 UFO's from my sidebar on this blog, and brought out the first three projects from the bins in my closet. Oh of course, I had to take out the bins, go through them and stack them back in the closet. One emptied to hold two of the projects, now WIP (works in progress) rather than UFO's. 2017 has begun. 

This one is a table runner I started making for Mother many years ago. It needs hand quilting and then binding. Mother has gone to a nursing home and can no longer use this where she is. I cannot believe how hard it is to return to this particular project. I could say I am anxious because I don't know what to do with it when it is finished. However, closer to the truth is that I am sad and bordering on being depressed about it. Am I living in the past? Maybe. Its not that I didn't finish it for her in time, its that life moved on and isn't finished between us. It needs hand quilting and so will be a start/stop project until all three of the stars and the first row of stitches around the center are done.

The next one requires embroidering 15 blocks state birds/flowers, so that too is hand work. The third project needs a back. Somewhere I decided to gather up all the blues in my stash. I think I will simply cut 8.5" squares and join them to fit. Then, from all the blues, there will be enough to make binding strips. That project will be the easiest to complete. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Moving Along at the End of the Year

I did find a bigger piece of fabric that will go on the back of the quilt. I also found enough batting pieces to join for it too. I will call for an appointment to baste early next week, and then be ready to machine baste and bind it. I am surprised how the scraps came together for this one. The success of it all inspires me to take action to use up more of them.

Every year, I experience some amazing stress to finish projects and get things shipped back to the Midwest for holiday gifts. 

Every year, I try to figure out what to do earlier and easier. My drop-dead-date to get holiday quilts or projects sent is THIS week in November before Thanksgiving. My idea is for gifts to arrive so that recipients can put holiday themed things out when they decorate their homes. Its all pre-holiday isn't it, because the PR becomes exhausting and after it is all done, those things get stored for the next year.

I finished that yesterday shipping. Two trips out. Done. Of course, I have packages for the youngest kids that will go out during that red-bar week for optimal shipping. I know they rip open the packages rather than save them for Winter Solstice, so later is better for them. And the older ones get money, so whenever is fine for that gift. Because I live far away from relatives, I will send out cards with personal letters. And I will do a cookie baking extravaganza in early December. Then, one last post office shipping experience for the youngest of the kids will be the time I wait in line.

Meanwhile, the studio needs to be set up for the 2017 projects, which are all those UFO's (unfinished objects) listed on my sidebar. This will be the year I finish the Bird Quilts, and work on other embroidery projects. I've held off sending those embroidered quilts to them for a couple of reasons and now just need to get on with it.

I don't know why I let the stress get to me. And I do think there has been change over the years to lighten it. For instance, instead of shipping off Thanksgiving Turkey cutout cookies, I got a full body massage. The kids love getting cookies, but each box ships for over $10 and there is only about a dozen cookies in the container. That is plain silly. Its not like they miss having homemade cookies. If they get one package of cookies through the holidays, it will be a sweet treat that they will cherish as more of a memory rather than a taste.

Weather is shifting now and my studio has western windows. Trees were trimmed back so much that there is little to break the wind, so it feels colder. This is the time of year that I notice how it is to be in the mountains at a higher elevation. I keep candles burning, add Amaretto to my coffee in the morning, and layer clothes to stay warmer.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Surprised Me

The quilt top came together nicely without a pattern. I don't really have purples that were requested and found this piece that worked for a background, borders and potentially the binding. It seems to photograph almost a gray but it reminds me of a grape soda. I used every scrap of purple I could find in my stash. The big challenge is what to do with the back!

It lays across my queen size bed, and will be a personal lap quilt when finished. I have yet to go through the bins to see what will work for the backing. A lot of the 2.5" squares went for the blocks and most of the 6" squares made up the second border. I really like the look of it and hope she will too. It will look nice with a diagonal channel quilted stitch. This is the size limit I want just to make it easy on myself when I am at the machine.

There are certain colors that are not in my stash. Remembering that what I received from others came from women who might have liked a fabric in the store and then either never used it or used very little of what they purchased. I know it is the practice of many women to buy just a little extra in case something changes. And that is a smart practice. If you don't finish your project in a timely fashion and run out of a fabric on it, chances are that the fabric store will have sold out. Usually they only buy one bolt of a fabric and the total yardage is less than 10 and more often 8 yards.

This back will take about 5-6 yards total. I don't have anything that big any more. Or at least I don't think so.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Actions Do Speak

Louder than words. So it is written.

I think it is true for me. I've been making a 6" border out of scraps, and it would be so much easier to go to the fabric store and buy a yard of material. Like I've written earlier, scrap quilting is actually hard. Yet, there is a sort of artistry with it too. And it is an eco friendly action I can take.

Admittedly, it takes time. The only way it becomes art is when I actually take the time to design something that makes use of my stash. With all these strips there may be enough to do the border around the center of the quilt. I've tried to be as random with the joining as I could, yet admit to mindful selection of the pieces. It is my hope that the purples in the strips will pop next to the foundation borders. 

Fear of failure reigns through this because I am working without a pattern, working without anything but a hunch that the strips will make a good border for the quilt. I am working on a quilt that I didn't know I was going to make! It is important to me to 'shop from the closet' but its not just about making quilts with a pattern. It is about using up what I have unless what I have is not here.

I think that once I have completed all the known or designated projects for the year, that going through the stash and making quilts from it is a good thing to do. This will be the second project I've started since finishing my goals for 2016. However, unlike the holiday scrap fabric quilt, this one is designated and will be finished to send out ASAP.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

2016 Projects Completed

I had no idea what I was doing with these fleece pillowcases. I've made cases made of cotton but this fabric is quite different. I got two out of the yard of fabric and double seamed them.

The fabric store staff have been instructed to cut exactly to the inch of what you want. My #2 Granddaughter's beau is a Packers fan and will enjoy this. They got new furniture recently and these cases can cover whatever pillows they have. Both their Dog and Cat are like family and would love sitting on them. It was the last of my holiday projects, other than cookies. 

Whew. It is the middle of November and my 'drop-dead' date for shipping is actually a week from now. I'll take everything that is ready.

After going through my bins and cutting or trimming them to usable sizes, I found more than enough for another scrap quilt to evolve. This the first Big Block back I have made. It is put away for later. If I do this again, and that is quite likely as it will make a great back to any quilt, I want to use five fabrics that coordinate more closely than offer any contrast. In fact, I have a lot of the two aquas leftover.

I've started another scrappy quilt top in purples. Oddly enough, I don't have a lot of purples but found one that will work as background, borders and maybe binding. The center came together nicely and luckily the stores in town were closed. It is so EASY to buy more. I found an idea for the focus border that is called piano keys. It is made of random strips that are initially cut 6" long and join to make a 6" border. I spent time cutting 3 strips from all the 6" squares in my stash. They are 2" wide and will lose 1/2" to the seams.

It was so interesting to take that bag of 6"ers and cut into them. At first, the hard part was thinking I needed to save them for some other project. What? This is a current project I need something for!!! Saving anything because of my commitment to shop from my closet runs the risk of becoming an act of hording. This commitment forces me to think outside the box and make creative choices.

There are a lot of the 6"ers left. Some were just short of the square measurement and were trimmed to 5". I want these strips to join as randomly as possible, again using the theory that having a lot of different fabrics, they will coordinate more closely than if they were coordinated to begin with. I understand how some people shy away from scrap quilting because it is hard, very hard, to work without a pattern, even for a person who finds it hard to read and understand them.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Holiday Preparation

After trimming fabric in the holiday bin and making a front and back for a quilt, I went on to do the same with the regular fabric bin. It was sorted by color too. I pinned more of the 2.5" squares together that will become the first border in the Row Of The Month (ROM) mystery quilt.

Clearly, there is enough work to do in those bins to last me years! As I handled the fabrics, it seemed to me that I could almost hear all the women before me quilting with their scraps talking about what they meant and coming up with ideas to use what they had too. I have one last holiday gift to finish, and then the packages can be wrapped.

Yet it is the start of the cookie rush as well. And because I haven't really started, I have nothing to show that I have made. This cutter makes a cute and easy to decorate cookie. I'll do my standard cookie dough with almond flavor rather than vanilla. 

Then the next non-bake cookie is the Rice Krispy Thanksgiving Turkey Leg. I've got pretzel rods, white chocolate melting chips, cereal, and marshmellow cream. I expect them to turn out easily. I am not sure what those ends are, and so mine might not look like this.

My friend Rex nominated her closest friend to get a lap quilt from me. Her friend is also a former student of mine, so I've known her for many years. After going through all the fabrics, I came up with an idea. However, these cookies and the gifties for my Grands are a priority. Winter lasts long in WI, so the quilt will go out when it is completed.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Cutting the Holiday Bin

In order to finish off the back scrap blocks, a little more cutting was required and while that happened, I just kept cutting to make what I did keep as larger rectangle pieces.

Squares are cut in 2.5", (very few 3" are left). 4", 5", 6", 8" and 10".

And now the major work on the back is done. All that is left was to lay it out, make rows/columns and then join it.

The back was laid out with four blocks across and five down. For whatever reason, there were two of each style left, so how I counted is a mystery. Now it will rest until the top gets cut and pieced so I know how to adjust this to fit. It is smaller than I thought it would be and there are certainly enough scraps to make a few more or I have fabric for sashing. I do plan to work on the top and cut into the scraps that I have set aside for it. This quilt will then drop to the last on my list of unfinished objects (UFOs) for next year. I am considering going through the other bin that has regular fabrics in it and doing the same thing....cutting, trimming, sorting. This feels like a successful use of strips and 3" squares without having a pattern.

Metaphysically backs are supportive to our bodies as well as to quilts. Often, we take for granted the work that they do in having entire health. In my body, I know that pain can be in the spot it hurts or that it is redirected

Today's project is getting back outside and re-sinking the pond (look to the right of the pic about 3/4 of the way up to see the hole) so it lays flush with the ground around it. It has to be washed out and refilled.  Its a little harder to do because the rock feature is in where the last time I did it, there was nothing around it to compete with the work.

Friday, November 11, 2016

1111 Posts

There is a tally for a lot of things about this blog and over time, I have made 1111 entries! I haven't really looked back at any of them. I just want to keep moving forward.

I've made 16 blocks from the holiday scrap bin. Some are like this square patch, some are the strips. I need four more to make the back that will go with the big block top. so there will be 10 blocks of each type. The top pattern is what they hope it will finish at and doing these blocks mke approximate sizes too, and may take a border to equalize them. What is great is that I am using up the scraps. Thing is, now to finish those blocks, I have to cut up more 3" squares!

Its all about the pieces even though we call them scraps. They fit together if you take time to just do that work. I remember reading that the ancestors used to cut up their old dresses, shirts, skirts and pants from family members to make their quilts. As I use these squares, I remember the various quilts I made for different family members too.

I've been thinking a lot about my best friend from high school who took her life decades ago. Its funny how I can hear her voice and remember her laughter as if it was just a few hours ago. Why her spirit is with me these days is that I think I have moved through all the stages of grief into an acceptance. There is no anger at her or anyone else, no depression inside me thinking that I might have said or done something different. Its just acceptance about her choice. 

Suicide leaves people with a different kind of grief and a lot of unanswered questions.

Seeing 11:11 promotes some people to make a wish. With all that has happened in the world lately, I could wish for a lot of things to bring into the world. I could be selfish and wish for all manner of good to come to my home and to the lives of my family and friends. I learned long ago not to be specific in wishing, doing magick or praying. I learned long ago that just because I believe in a divine being, I know I am not SheWho. Yet, here it is on 11/11 that I have made 1111 entries. 

Is this a sign that my simple prayers work? I don't need a sign to know that energy is out there, that energy of peace and love I project, that energy of hope.

Its like the scraps that are pieces of who we are, the light, the dark, the bright, the others. And when all of us are together, we make something quite wonderful. Quite beautiful.