Sunday, December 31, 2017

Comfort Quilt Top & Back

While it is still easy to assemble quilt tops from scraps, the backs are easier if they are just joined square to square with more of a random look. I am doing Log Cabins for tops as long as I can if there isn't a 'kit' of fabric set aside.

As it is, this quilt was made by pulling coordinating fabrics together, measuring and being somewhat unconventional. Yet, it is so lovely!

The back is made with 4" squares constructed into 9-patch groupings that are joined in rows and columns to be over the size of the top. Two different looks and both really nice.

I laid it out three times and chose the 'Fields & Furrows' layout. Then I had a darker teal for the first border, the swirly beige and hope to have enough of the darker teal for binding. If not, there is a lighter piece that will work. The back has so many fabrics that the teal, which reads almost solid, will work perfectly.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Big City Adventure

I used the hot tub both days I was in the motel. Good goddess, that bubbly heated water is magnificent!

JoAnn Fabrics had another big sale (always happening in that store) and so I spent hundreds of dollars buying things I do not have in my closets, using the gift card. Funny thing with all I bought there is still money left.

I made an appointment on next Tuesday to have the car computer examined so plan to bring the weekender tote to work on while I wait. It might take at least an hour and the tote is ready to finish, which might take more than an hour anyway, so this is a good project.

And now, I need to put things away that I bought and get some order back in this room. Luckily, I do not shop often.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Off to the Big City

After keeping a couple of appointments this morning, I am off to the big city and will run errands there as well as having some fun in the hotel pool and hot tub. I plan to stop in at the car dealership to see about the accessories on the car. I've watched the DVD that came with it and still have questions. I learn better if someone shows me. I will be back Thursday night and online again on Friday.

Hope you are having a good week

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Making Backs

With all the pre-cut scraps I have, it follows that they will make lovely backs. For now, I am joining the 2.5" strips going with a sort of mono-chromatic theme. Thing is they turn out so lovely that they could be quilt tops! I am making it easy on myself as I go.

This is the blue/pink grouping that actually will fit the February wedding quilt I am making. I used leftovers from the quilt top so it will be perfectly coordinated. It is ready to baste. I am currently joining reds and pinks that I thought would go with the Rising Stars pink and gray sampler, but it is too much. That back needs a solid color for the back. 

Monday, December 25, 2017

Holiday Quilting

This is a holiday season for many around the world. It marks a time of introspection for me, and feels like a time of hibernation. Its gotten too cold to be outside in the gardens, and I know that this is okay. I am glad to see colored lights out there, even decorating an old artificial tree. Funny thing happened. I had a bag of red holiday balls that usually goes on the rose bushes in front. The wind blew the bag off the north steps and the balls scattered out back. Its so festive that I decided to let them lay.

I was able to get 2 comfort quilts ready to baste and I am working on the back for a 3rd. I am starting to see the 'stash' diminish.  

Sunday, December 24, 2017

With All I Did

After piecing strips together for the back of the comfort quilt I am working on, and measuring it to match the top, it needs at least 10 more rows. Before I put this fabric away and it gets used for something else, I want to finish what is started for the back. It is quite beautiful even now before it is completed. The colors brighten each other and are almost like a choir.

Stores in town are closed for the holidays, and I will wait until Tuesday (the day after Christmas) to shop for one of the focus fabrics I want for different one of the comfort quilts. Usually I finish the quilt top before buying the border fabric when it is needed. This pattern is one of those easy-to-make ideas.

The idea of creating comfort quilts this year has actually been comforting for me. I am excited to use the 'stash' in my closets, as well as being challenged to create something special for my family and friends who asked for a comfort quilt. It feels like a stronger connection between us.

Once again, it seems that I have many projects going at once. I am not fighting that in me. I have always been a multi-tasker, and quilting has opened up this way of being even more for me. I can move from one project to another and return to finish what I started. I can work on several projects in a day, and bring them to completion at different times too. 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Cutting Takes Time

With all the scraps I had ready to use in scrap quilts, it surprises me that it seems there is just as much left after I make one! 
All fabrics are cut for the Ribbon Comfort Quilt and its a matter of piecing next. In one way, because all the colors are selected, the thought came to me to make a second quilt using these fabrics. I might put them in a bag with a copy of the pattern and see how it turns out. Usually the only pattern I have used for quilts is the Log Cabin because there are so many finishing variations once the blocks are made. Even if I were to use the same fabrics, I know that the quilts end up being one of a kind.

What I decided to do was to cut and piece a strip quilt for the back. It can be longer and wider than the expected measurements for the top. Even cutting all these strips left me with a lot left over. Empty bins are starting to show up, and logic tells me the stash is lightening. There is always enough in life when I use what I have and find ways to be creative.

The idea of comfort quilts is giving something to someone that lets them know they are not alone. It is like wrapping your arms around them from a long distance and helping feel the warmth. I feel quite honored to be able to do this with quilts because I know how hard it is for a lot of people, me included, to be near people who care.

Friday, December 22, 2017

New Car Day

Spent the day in Palmdale at the Honda dealership buying a new car. It seemed to take forever to get it done, AND they were having a holiday party for employees so that slowed things down further. 

Anyway, my Saturn went in for a trade-in, and the salesguy said they would use it for parts when I asked how I got such a premium for it. I am glad to be rid of the fretting the aging Saturn seemed to cause each trip. This new one, like all cars for sure, has good points and challenges to it. Everything on it is computerized so I paid for the extended warranty and hope to sell it before that expiration date.

The Winter Solstice drum ritual and pot luck went nicely last night. I cannot say I drew friends to my life as folks walked out the door after it was over and went back to their lives, but what does happen is that I learned how many good people live in my area.

Well, today and for part of the weekend, I need to get back to the binding for a quilt and for a weekender tote.

I know that life and the seasons cycle, and that with Winter, many of us withdraw to our psychological caves to heal and restore our energies. I love having the quilts I make rest on my lap at night while I sew the binding. I do.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Working the Pattern

One of the things I want to do for this blog is to notice the spiritual lessons as I do the work.

I learned in one of my first quilting classes to label colors & number rows if it was going to matter in the quilt. Some quilts are samplers, which means they have self-contained blocks with a theme of some sort, or get joined with sashing and borders to draw colors together. Those kinds of quilts are more random in the centers. The more that you have, the better it looks and the more it coordinates.

In some cases, a pattern lets you chose values of light, medium, dark & bright, as well as a solid, floral, geometric as either a small print, medium size or large. These projects only work if you follow the guidelines.

This quilt pattern I am working with now doesn't suggest any ideas beyond requiring 12 different (1/3 yard each) pieces because all colors will be with a white background.

Those are the quilt fabrics I learned to label. This pattern calls for 12 different fabrics, and to keep my focus, I cut small corners off one of the selvages to mark them on the pattern for a reference. Also, the fabrics coordinate by colors even though I will not know how they will work as the quilt evolves. A mystery of sorts. There is an illusion of choice and my choices only work if I invoke the other rules of light, medium, dark, & bright colors, and small to large prints.

The challenge is going to be how to make lovely Comfort quilts as the larger pieces, and coordinating fabrics get used. Luckily, I made enough of those 'kits' with the fabric that I thought was large enough and coordinated.

I am going to write more about the process & progress for the Comfort quilts I am making because many of the recipients read this blog from time to time. This is the spiritual component. Sometimes we forget that the journey is more important. Sometimes it really is the end product or destination.

This season can rake most of us over emotional coals. It has often happened for me and so I work to minimize the energy. One way is to be more organized. Another way is to see what is essential to the heart. Boy-howdy is this a self-learning, self-examination part of life.

When I got to thinking about choices for my projects, I realize that there are a lot of other choices that I do not make. And for those times, other people make them for me and I get things I don't want or I go without things I need. So as I make color, fabric or pattern choices, I want to realize the power I have or give up. 

It is like asking. Asking is a choice. It is a risk too. However, if we do not take chances in our life, then ...then what?

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Excited to Finish

I have a number of projects in my closet that I consider Works in Progress or WIPs rather than unfinished. Now that projects have designated recipients, its like there is new energy put into them. I feel a re-newed passion to work on quilts again.
This morning I reached a place where I needed to order more supplies to finish one I just started, and used the gift card my younger Son sent. I put the Log Cabin blocks I was working on away until the fabric comes, returning to one of the quilt-along quilt tops I made this year. It only needed threads clipped and to be pressed. It had the back & batting, so is ready to baste and then quilt.

Bit by bit, the storage containers are emptying or being used for other things. Finally, I am seeing a change in what seemed to be a huge stash of fabrics. For so many years now, it seems that my quilts have been scrappy, and they are quite nice in the end. However, there is a difference in the look from scrappy to when a quilter buys coordinated fabrics for a more polished look. 

I will make more of the scrappy backs to fit with any of the quilt tops and keep the movement of fabric going out. These are fun to make too.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017


Two of my projects are at the binding step. This has been the part of quilting that I enjoy a lot because it gives me a chance to sit with peace in my heart and a way to send it to the recipient.

I concentrate on the energy. Although these pics are not my own hands, it is the process I use. First I cut strips to 2.5" strip, press them over to a 1.25 width, pin to the project, sew it to the project up to the corner where it gets miter folded and sewn to the project. Then it gets folded over again, and binding clips put on. The needle is threaded, and pulled 18" out to make it a double thread.

The blind stitch is something I learned as a child and is what makes the work incredibly relaxing. I am still working on those mitered corners. 

One thing I do remember is that there is a front and back to a needle opening. Looking closely, you can see a bend in the needle, & with experimentation, you will discover that one side threads so much easier. I've tried to find technical information and all I have is my personal folk lore on it. If you have trouble threading your needle, turn it around and see if there is a difference.

Now, to learning the quilter's knot. I've needed to learn this because of my essential tremors. This method takes less coordination. And in fact, knowing about needle openings is vital to us all. It wastes so much less time to know what works.

Monday, December 18, 2017


Its been awhile since I have blogged. The holidays have kept me busy and things are still going strong. Booked a room mid-week before New Year's in Palmdale to go car shopping.

And truth be told, it is the time I pamper myself by going out to eat in the big city and shopping with no particular reason.

When I posted on Facebook that I wanted to make comfort quilts and would take recommendations, five of my friends asked. Others commented but did not ask for a quilt.
It is hard to come out with the words. Asking is just as hard as saying thank you. I get that.

What I want to do is make up the 'kits' I created and have sitting in the closet. I can accomplish two things...making from what I to folks who actually want my quilts.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

I've Changed My Mind

A relatively big change of plans, change of thinking, change of mind took place last night. For all my short quilting career, I made quilts & gave them to family members & friends by using what I have here and not asking if they wanted specific sizes or colors. It was practical for me, even if not sensitive to their wants. There are a number of quilts I plan to finish in 2018 that are on the side bar list. Ten of them need batting.

The change is that I decided to remove names of possible recipients, just finish quilts & ask who might like them either for themselves or for someone they care about who might enjoy having a comfort quilt. 

I love quilting. It seems to me, in the darkness of the night, that I am taking a lot of pressure off myself. This way, I have no need to finish in a certain time for a certain reason.

My younger Son just gave me a substantial gift certificate to Joann's. Watching for sales, with it, I might be able purchase enough batting to finish every quilt on my list using up scraps in my closet. I will continue making tops and backs with what is here first.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Life is Full of Surprises

This quilt had so many steps, and yet, is charming enough for me to do another using Outhouses instead of the traditional ones shown in the pattern.

There are five borders to the personal lap quilt. The surprise that came as I finished the top was finding a blue print fabric for the backing included as part of the project. It even has binding cut and ready to finish. I am quite pleased with the ending of it all. Because it is a designated wedding gift in late February for a family member, it will be basted, quilted & bound as soon as I am able.

The car guy is fixing the master brake cylinder today. It was terrifying to drive with a failed brake yesterday as I shipped out the last of the holiday parcels to family, kept my doctor's appointment and dropped off a donation at the thrift store. I still want to buy a new car but am not in crisis mode right now.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017


This was the first mystery quilt I made that had us pre-cut fabric pieces for the first month, and admittedly, I was skeptical. However, it works really good. In fact, this last section, the borders, is so hard that I am glad I didn't have to go back and cut. It is a very complex pattern and might have been an easy one to let become a UFO.

Sashing & corner-stones are on, as is the first border. Pink and white strips shown on top of the ironing board are ready to cut at 2.5" for the checkerboard border. Lots of cutting, pressing, pinning and joining into all four sides. And then, more borders.

With only four blocks making up the quilt, two of them made up a row. Each has a different outside border, so there is an interesting pattern created. This is going to be a wedding quilt for a family member. All scraps. That is the wonder of it all for me. I am thinking that there isn't a fabric for the back and may buy a teal batik.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Sewing, Sewing, Sewing

This is the month that all borders go on for one of the BOM I joined last year. What a lot of work it is. Luckily, all the pieces were pre-cut during the first month and now all that one does is simply assemble. That means pinning, sewing, unpinning, pressing, and either pinning again or cutting first and then pinning. Its going to be lovely and worth it but for now there are no photos of the progress.

Also, today, I am working on the cutout cookies to ship tomorrow. Today, I cut out sugar cookies, made Toll House mint/chocolate chip cookies & Biscotti. No matter how I tried to time the Toll House, they either got more done than I wanted or had soft centers.

I cut & baked ginger-bread boys yesterday. Both kinds of cutouts are getting frosted today so they can set overnight before trying to box and ship. 

Long day baking. Even though I am doing less baking and have found ways to do the stages over many sessions rather than to do everything at once.

I remember many baking parties with family and with my friend Virginia in MN. We were crazy back then but had the energy to do it.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Layout Done

Because other quilters finished earlier than I did, I learned from their layouts. Again, this quilt was made of scraps I had in my closet. The other day, someone said they were almost angry that they had to use their scraps and thought they would get ugly quilts.
Sometimes its made me sad not to shop for fabrics and what I use might not turn out as good as some I see, but it just makes no sense to bring home more when what I have takes over one HUGE closet.

This is my layout. We pre-cut pieces and so I have sewn sashing and corner stones together. Its a matter of joining the pieces and adding borders, which are also cut. It will look different from this layout. The tricky part was how the sides of each nested with the ones next to it. They form patterns too. I am far from done with this quilt. Borders are relatively complex.

And that's it for today as I am headed to the big city for a holiday parade & light dinner in Lancaster and to a holiday play in Palmdale, (Its a Wonderful Life). Tomorrow I start baking cutout cookies....dough needs to refrigerate before rolling. 

Friday, December 8, 2017

November House

I think our skills were supposed to expand as we did each of these houses. I fell behind on the project, and was highly committed to finishing it so it would not fall victim to being a UFO.

This is November work. I didn't add the window panes, flower centers, & door knobs. It is enough.December pattern for finishing was released last Friday, so I will keep going with this until it is a completed top. I want to use the same concept with outhouses for a quilt for my older Son. This helps me see how it can turn out, and will guide choices for fabrics.

I got out in the Western garden. I keep thinking about making the work easier because my energy and strength wane each year. I can do the work NOW and need to make some more changes. To that end, I want to move rock away from the wall so the vines can climb up. Their leaves drop and having as many rocks as was there made it hard for me to blow them away.

And then there is the FLY LADY plan. Today, I really gave the kitchen sink a major clean and got under it to wash the pipes, disposal, and walls and floor of it all. 15 minutes.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Block 12

This block was intended to use up scraps left from the previous blocks. I selected fabrics with a black background with the pink colors. I am glad these blocks for the top are finished. There is enough for the sashing, cornerstones and borders. There may be finishing instructions on the group page, so I will wait to see how it looks before proceeding. 

And then, my younger Son sent me a message asking if I could make cat toys from scraps. I found a number of tutorials on You Tube.

This one starts with a strip of fabric, and lots of thin strips that all get tied in a circle, which I will work on while watching a video. It surprised me how many different ones are suggested in the tutorials.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Personal Update

I got outside into the part of my gardens that is a 3-4' wide pathway between my house and the fence and weeded, filling almost half the trash container with plant matter. Temps are in the mid 50's and the area is sheltered from winds. 

Today is just another day for 'being' rather than 'doing'. My holiday tasks are pretty much completed and I can take time to pamper myself.

I want to get back into the Kitchen for a 15-minute FlyLady task. Today is cleaning silver & utility drawers. And dishes. There are always dishes even with a dishwasher.

My sidebar list here indicates the work planned for quilting this month. Rico is just on the edge of being well again, but still a little iffy, in my opinion even though he is playing wildly at times.

Holiday cards are out, and some folks are calling to say how much they loved getting one and the enclosed letter.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017


The Pizzelle batter is best made a couple of days before making. Mine was one day ahead. I cut the recipe in half other years and decided to make a full batch this time. Its a laborious process that means a teaspoon of batter on each of the two spaces on the iron, waiting a minute and then laying them on the cooling sheet. 

HOWEVER, I didn't factor in that I would be standing around in the kitchen while I made enough to last a lifetime. They are cooling on the rack. I also made fudge to send off in the shipping box, and need to wrap the 4 Silver Bells. 

I need to write notes on the recipe to use less flour. I added another bottle of anise flavoring, another lemon (juiced) and a small container of whipping cream to get it to a thinner consistency. Sigh.

Admittedly, I am tired out. While hanging in the kitchen, I cleaned the glass top on my stove and wiped out the stove glass inside and out. It took a lot of elbow grease and hasn't been deep cleaned in some time. I didn't set the timer because it was just a task that had to be done via Fly Lady and I was doing it between watching the Pizzelle iron. And before all this started, I made a trip to the grocery store and picked up some boxes I can use for shipping.

Everything needs to be packed, labeled and brought to the PO. The fudge is cut and in small boxes. I have tins, baggies, tin foil, parchment paper & cushioning. 

I had made a decision that I would not try to bake and ship everything all at once. Next week I want to make cutouts. I can bake the cookies one day, frost them the next. 

And the last week will be the Pinollate, or honey balls. These are cut into small pieces, fried in oil, drained and covered in honey. I make only one batch of these and divide them into small containers.  

While I think I do not have the energy I used to have, what I know is that I have become smarter to portion out what I do. It has become a matter of saving my body while keeping the traditions.

Monday, December 4, 2017

BOM Patterns Released

December is the last of the pattern releases for two of the quilt-alongs I joined this year. Now that all the projects for 2017 are completed, I can turn my attention to finishing these. Of course, I made another batch of fudge and have Pizzelle batter in the refrigerator waiting and curing.

I am waiting for the delivery of the Silver Bells that each of my Granddaughters have received since their first holiday. They receive a total of 21 dated bells as their collection from me. I forgot to order them this year so ordered them late. They will go out in a box with cookies, which I plan to make and ship out each Tuesday.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Holiday Tote

Although I used my own totes going into the grocery store, after California passed it as standard, I started making more personal totes by using scraps from my stash. 

This one is made from a couple of smaller panels, strips and even left-over straps. NOt sure what it was originally bought for or how I got it, but it will be used well. Nothing needs to match for me because its a matter of making use of what I have, but I do the best I can in coordinating fabrics.

Its a little deeper than I like when I do a lot of shopping, however, it is perfect for days like this one where everything will fit into one bag and then shopping is done.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

In Memory

I worked hard to finish this comfort quilt and will ship today. Granddaughter #1 sent 3 teeshirts and so my design had them for a foundation, yet had to use what I had. 

It is really lovely. What I did was to trim down the 5 Harley images to start with. I staggered them so each row would have a panel. Four of them were trimmed to 13" so I could use 12.5" blocks. Then, I added spacer strips or sections to get the 5 rows to an equal width. I did my best to balance out the design and really love how it turned out. I did make the side borders just a little wider to extend it to a standard lap quilt size.

The back is simple. The heart-shaped label is on the lower left corner, and the binding is made of black strips in the stash. In all, it turned out quite lovely.

I plan to ship it requiring a signature. I am learning that a few extra dollars spent this way is better than the grief of a lost package.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Being Radical

Sometimes when something happens beyond our control, what is left to us is finding Radical Acceptance, and moving into Radical Forgiveness. The package I sent was obviously picked up by someone whose life led them to taking what was not theirs. Impossible to know the conditions nor the motivation and feeling of deprivation. 

I learned that there are folks who follow delivery trucks in order to take packages. My guess is that it was the neighbor who lives above Granddaughter #3's duplex. #3 was ok with what happened because it was never hers to see or open or care about. On the other hand, I experienced the disappointment, hurt and loss.

And so today, I continued with the quilt project on hand and am nearly finished hand sewing the binding. With this one, however, it will ship with the request for Granddaughter #1's signature. 

However, through a large part of the day I found myself sending strong energy for the package recovery. Then it hit me. I needed to release the desire for positive resolution, release the anger I felt and forgive the person who needed this package to fill some sort of emptiness. 

I need to do this for me. The person will have natural consequences and may never return the package to Granddaughter #3. This event could turn out several ways, either leading them into more crime or as a trigger to heal. 

Radical Acceptance. Radical Forgiveness. I am being radical and trusting in the greater good.