Sunday, September 25, 2016

Problem with Blogger?

Is anyone else having trouble with Blogger these days? I accidentally discovered that Blogger is not forwarding comments to my email address. I've checked my settings and think everything is set correctly. My apologies to anyone to whom I have not responded! Maybe it's time to switch to Wordpress or something.

Dakota Farmer

Bonnie Hunter's latest book was released a few weeks ago, and I already have a copy in my hot little hands. It is based on the column that she writes for Quiltmaker magazine, "Addicted to Scraps".

Dakota Farmer was one of the blocks I found in her column. At the time, I was just getting onboard with soscrappy's Rainbow Scrap Challenge, so I started making these blocks. I did change the outer border to suit myself.  I think Bonnie usually puts up on her blog a mockup of what a quilt using that month's block might look like, and that's where this layout came from. Finished it in August.

These cute little 3" flying geese blocks were another block featured in her column. I started making light and dark versions and have in mind a particular setting. Heaven knows how long it will take me to get enough done to make a quilt because I am paper piecing mine. One nice thing about these little blocks is that they use up a lot of small scraps.

We had a very long, hot, dry summer, and I'm glad we're finally down to the 60s. 38 degrees here last night. Fabulous! Despite the dry weather, my sedums still look beautiful. They'll deepen in color to a burgundy by the time fall is over.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A New Obsession

I'm on the last quarter of the Stars Over America quilt. Still have four more red star halves to sew for the corner border blocks; but since there's only one border, I anticipate having this top finished by bedtime tonight.

Paper piecing 88 star halves got tedious at times, so occasionally I switched out the project with another from a class I bought on Craftsy. I discovered Craftsy sometime late last year and have come to love it. It started with knitting, then expanded to quilting, a few cooking classes, and a few gardening classes. They have some other kinds of classes too, and I wish they'd have one on refinishing furniture.

A few weeks ago while I was surfing the internet, I came across Joan Hawley's blog--she owns Lazy Girl Designs. She wrote about a new technique she developed using half of a zipper, with a different colored pull, to sew into a bag. My interest was piqued, so I bought her three patterns that feature the technique. Before I could get started, she started offering a class on Craftsy, so I signed up. A worthwhile investment, because she offers some tips that are not in the printed patterns, and the videos make it a whole lot easier to understand what to do. Too bad I had already bought the patterns because all three are included in the class materials, which makes it a great value.

Using only half of a zipper makes it easy to install, then you can use the other half for another project. You can also see I've added different colored pulls to each of the three pieces I made. In fact, the key fob actually has two different pulls on it. I could have added three or even six. How fun is that?

The other thing I really like about this technique is that using one half of a zipper allows the bag to sit wide open when it's unzipped, which makes it easier to see and reach into the bag. This is Joan's Sweetpea Pod pattern. I've been keeping one of my charger cords in it, but a friend made one from vinyl mesh (which I thought was brilliant) and keeps her little red binding clips inside. The larger bag is Becca, and the key fob is Fobio. The split ring on the Fobio is small enough to put through a zipper pull, so you can put one on the Sweetpea too.

You can also purchase a bag of extra zipper pulls so you have colors to choose from. I have always detested putting in a zipper, but Joan made a believer out of me. I had so much fun in this class, and now it's spawned a new obsession--stashing zippers and zipper pulls.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Quilt of Valor #3

Spring and summer were busy months for us, and I simply haven't had the time to update the blog, I'm sorry to say. Now that I'm back, I'm restarting in the moment and will catch up here and there.

One of my goals this year was to complete six Quilts of Valor. I'm still hoping to reach that goal, but I may not, and that's fine. I plan to continue making them, so I'll keep going. The third one should have been completed by the end of June, and I'm still working on it. It's a pattern called Steve's Star from one of Judy Martin's books, Piece 'n Play Quilts. I think I used every star fabric I own in the quilt, lol, so I'm calling it Stars Over America. I drafted a paper piecing pattern for the stars in EQ, and it does take time to put these together, more time than I realized. The top half is all sewn together now, but I still have most of the star units for the bottom half to put together.

QOV #2 , finished at the end of April, is a duplicate of one I made several Christmases ago for a Marine veteran whose family was the recipient of gifts from my husband's team at work. At the time, I liked the quilt well enough to purchase fabric for two quilts, and this is the second one. Quick to put together, only the star blocks in the border are pieced--the center is a panel. Love this quilt. It is a design by Nancy Rink, and I named it American Valor. It might have been a free pattern from the Marcus Bros. website. Sorry for the corner of my sewing table in the corner of the photo--not much I can do about it.

I found a new pantograph for the quilting, one called Patriot from Jodi Beamish. With a variegated red, white and blue thread, I like the way it looks.

The most momentous event of the summer was the birth of my first grandchild, a granddaughter. After she was born, I stayed with my son and daughter-in-law for a week and a half, helping with the baby and things around the house. Loved all the grammie time!

She is two months old now and just beginning to smile at faces. Her mom and dad let her come up this weekend for a slumber party, and she was all tuckered out by the time we took her home on Sunday. Can't wait to see her again!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

February Finishes

I have a friend I email back and forth with nearly every day, even though she just lives down the street and round the corner. She's busy, I'm busy, so we email. I went to an operetta with her Sunday, and she complained that she'd been doing most of the writing lately. She said she won't hear from me for several days, then I write her a five-page email.

I've been like that since I was a kid, hating to sit down and write, procrastinating, then spending an hour writing a really long letter. My husband deployed often during our 30+ years of married life, and it drove him crazy too. Now here I am, doing the same thing with blogging. I guess it's feast or famine with me, and it's a habit I'd sure like to break. I am not, however, going to write a lengthy blog post today. I'll spread it out over a few days. Maybe, lol.

I have been off in ten different directions in the sewing room over the last month or so and having a ball. I did finish three quilts in the month of February. Two were ufo's, and that's always a good feeling.

The first Quilt of Valor for the year has been finished, and I started the next one right on time on March 1. Credit where credit is due: "Tree Farm Throw" from a Thimbleberries booklet called Triple Treat. It is perhaps just shy of the required size for a QOV, but I think it will do. I named it "Let Freedom Ring".

The Candystripes quilt is finished too, and I am SO glad to have this one out of my hair. The top of the next charity baby quilt, with the 36-patch blocks, is finished and waiting to be quilted.

Lastly, my Lazy Sunday is finished at long last. Other than the fact that I wished I had mixed up my background fabrics, I like it a lot. I quilted it with a feather pantograph--I love feathers. Another project I am very happy to have done and on a bed. Yay! February was a good month!

Credit where credit is due: designed by Bonnie Hunter, published in Quiltmaker magazine.

I finished a couple of knitting projects too. I'm not a hat person but decided I might be a headband person. Sometimes my ears get numb when the winter wind is blowing, so I knitted this up in just a day with some chunky Malabrigo I'd forgotten about in one of my bins.
I also finished this Honey Bee sweater from a pattern on Ravelry. I knit it with Berroco Remix, a favorite yarn of mine. The knitting and seaming has been done since November, just needed to set in one sleeve. Occasionally procrastination does pay off; not so in this case, I could have been wearing it all winter. We just had 4 or 5 inches of snow yesterday though, so still some winter left up here.

Progress with the kitchen redo is glacier-like. The new drywall on the ceiling is up, but there is nothing of interest to see yet. We're considering laying cork flooring, which we have no experience with. Glue-down seems to be the way to go; multiple bad reviews for the click together tiles, especially if it gets wet.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

A Good Week

Weather up here in Maine seems to be particularly difficult to predict, and I don't know why. Case in point (and there are many): Friday I was scheduled to take my friend to her doctor's appointment. I knew there was snow in the forecast, but I double checked the forecast in the morning right before I left the house at 8:00, and I wasn't worried. They were only predicting 3-6" of snow.

Her appointment lasted about an hour, we had a little lunch in the hospital cafeteria, and headed back to her house. The drive was bad and worsening by the time I dropped her off and headed home. I nearly lost it twice at the intersections because the snow was so wet and slippery. By the time I got home about 1:30 in the afternoon, we had 8-1/2" on the ground; and we got another inch and a half by the time the storm ended.

Yesterday the original prediction for Monday night and Tuesday was snow showers. This morning I measured five more inches on the ground, and I noticed the forecast had been updated. The weatherman must have finally looked out his window and revised the forecast. Sheesh!

Although I didn't get as much time for sewing as I would have liked over the last week and a half, I did manage to finish the QOV top. Still need to find some backing fabric and get it loaded for quilting.

The Candystripes top is also finished. I didn't particularly enjoy making this quilt . I was glad I only had to suffer through making a 36" square quilt. I also learned I don't care for pastels. 

I had bunches of 4-patch units left over; and since I didn't want to make another Candystripes, I started making 36-patch blocks out of them. I had exactly enough 4-patch units to make 9 big blocks.

This quilt, which will also be donated, needed to be about 36" square like the first one. A horizontal set wasn't going to get me there, so I set them on point, and that'll put it a little over 38", so I'm good to go. I've made one of the alternate blocks and have set a few triangles in place for the remaining blocks and setting triangles.

Wish I could credit this to a designer, but I found the photo in a quilt catalog from some company I never heard of, and it wasn't credited in the catalog. They simply called it "Postage Stamp Stars". I get these oddball catalogs once in a while, probably because one of the magazines sold my name to a hundred different places.

The red Twisted Ribbon is finished, and I put all of them on the design wall to motivate me to keep going. I have five more ribbons to make, two browns, two greens, and a blue-green. There are no borders on this quilt, so when the columns are done, the quilt top will be done.

Finished my sister-in-law's socks and mailed them to her. She received them and sent me back photos of how they fit--perfect! Yay!

I love scraps and have been given many over the years. Our quilt group has an auction every other year as a fundraiser; and they always have a multitude of scrap bags too, so I usually buy a few bagfuls. I think it's great fun to see what other people are sewing with, and it's a great resource for little bits of this and that that I don't have in the stash.
Bonnie Hunter had a photo on her blog recently showing some scrap sorting she was doing on her living room floor. I was inspired by that photo enough to dig out a scrap bag from the auction and go through it.

It needed to be washed to remove some odor, and it's a job I absolutely dread because it always becomes a horribly tangled, wrinkled mess. Even washing them in a mesh laundry bag in the washer hasn't helped.

This time I tried a different approach. I sorted the scraps into three bins in the tub, one each for lights, mediums, and darks. After adding a little liquid soap, I mashed them up and down in the wash water, rinsed them the same way in clean water with vinegar (for total odor removal) in it, spin-dried them in the washer, and tossed them in the dryer.

What a difference! Much less fraying and tangling, and they came out of the dryer all fluffed up and relatively wrinkle free. After sorting them the way Bonnie was doing, an XL Stor-It bag stuffed with scraps has been tamed into nice neat piles.

It will probably be about three months to finish the renovation in the kitchen. Hubby has commenced the demolition, and the contractor will be out next week to measure the spaces and write up the contract for the cabinetry.

The kitchen is probably original to the house, built about 1950. At present there are only cabinets on two walls, and this doorway to the dining room is at the end of one of the walls. The white cabinets in the dining room (homemade by a previous owner) had to be angled at the front because of the doorway. It's quite awkward.

Everyone seems to be quite charmed by the blue metal cabinets, but I can't stand them and can't wait to get rid of them. We're installing red birch instead.

Now the doorway has been moved over, widened, and framed in. A space has been cut in the adjoining wall to set in the refrigerator, which was next to the stove. We'll have a floor to ceiling pantry and appliance closet on that same wall, cabinetry on three walls in total.

A soffit over the cabinets also had to be removed. Hubby finished that work over the weekend, and some order in the kitchen has now been temporarily restored. Things will be inconvenient and messy for a while, but it'll be worth the wait.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

First Finish for 2016

Missed my post last week, but there's little to report. Hubby and I are beginning extensive renovations in the kitchen, and renovation in one room always seems to affect three or four others. We're shifting furniture around and having to develop creative storage ideas, so not much sewing is getting done right now.

I did manage to finish the binding on Rooster Tales. I presently have blue metal cabinets in my kitchen and thought the quilt would go nicely in there, but that will all change in the next several months. Now I'm not sure what to do with this quilt, but at least it's done.

Credit where credit is due: "Checkerboard Tiles" by Bethany Reynolds.

If I hadn't been desperate to have a piece of fabric to use for the workshop (years ago), this could easily have been a what-was-I-thinking moment. I used up as much of the original fabric as I could for the back. Plus I think it's always fun to see what the original fabric looked like.

I also finished the yellow-green ribbon on the left and got most of the pieces for the red ribbon set in place. After the red ribbon is finished, I'll finally be able to sew three vertical rows together. That's progress!

 I'm coming along nicely on sister-in-law's socks. I just finished the heel gusset and started the foot.
See how the heel is checkered with gray and brown? I learned a new way to reinforce the heel area from Lucy Neatby's sock class on Craftsy. Not only does it provide reinforcement and some extra cushion, but the heel is a bit more interesting.

Have you collected any or all of Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks magazines? They're up to Volume 12 now. Bonnie Hunter seems to have a block in just about every issue; and I'm a big fan, so I like to get the magazines. At one point the designers were receiving these special 100 Blocks mugs, but they weren't available to the general public, which is a shame. A couple weeks ago, I happened across an online vendor who had two of them for sale, so I snapped them up! Each mug is different--one for Volume 2 and one for Volume 4. I think these are so cool, and I'll be on the lookout for more of them.