Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving

Our family has so much to be grateful for this year and every year, and we are thankful. The best thing about the holidays is spending time with family and friends, and we'll be with family today. Hope you will too. Happy Thanksgiving to all my blogging friends!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Embroidery Group Monday and Dishcloth Tuesday

Yesterday was Embroidery Group, and I worked on the candy corn blocks. They seem big, but the blocks finish to about 3" x 4", I think. All of the blocks are oversized right now, but they will all get squared up eventually.

I finished up 10 candy corns yesterday, 12 more to go. I still have pumpkins and candy blocks to make, plus a few odd ones, before I can start putting the quilt top together. It's time consuming to make these blocks because of all the prep work, like any applique block.

My kids have raided my dishcloth stash recently, so I figured it was time to make some more. I want to use up my odd bits of leftover dishcloth cotton from earlier projects. Last week I worked on using up the last bit of a mustard color in these two dishcloths. Still had several yards left over, so I cast on for another dishcloth, used up the rest, and now it will sit and wait until I get down to the last several yards of another little ball.

Coincidentally, Wanda over at Exuberant Color  has also been knitting dishcloths, and she shared with me her pattern for a diagonal knit dishcloth. I've been Christmas shopping this week and decided some of these dishcloths in Christmas colors would make nice little stocking stuffers. Finished this one this morning.

I cut my soap into bars this morning too. For the last year or two, Adult Ed at the local high school has offered some different classes on making soaps and lotions. I've wanted to try it, but there was always a conflict. This year I managed to get into the first class on lotions, lip balms, and deodorant. Teacher did all the work, we got to take samples home.

It was easy and fun; so I decided I'd try basic soap making next, but the class was already full. Hopefully I'll catch that in the spring.

In the meantime, last Friday was the class on making milk soap. Another fun class, but a little more involved. I used goat's milk for my soap, but others used cow's milk, and I read you can use coconut milk too. I was a bit nervous working with the lye, which is required for soap, but it was fine. It won't really burn a soft ball sized hole in your arm if you get a granule or two on yourself by accident. But you do have to exercise caution, the same as you would if you were handling bleach or ammonia. The other thing about lye is the fumes, but the way we added it to the frozen milk, the fumes dissipated quickly enough so it wasn't an issue.

The teacher provided us with a small plastic container with a lid to use as a mold, and also so we could take our soap home. We lined the container with a plastic bag, and that's why the end pieces look like they're cracked. They're not really, it was just the folds in the bag. The plastic bag made it easy to pop out of the mold. The soap is now the consistency of cheddar cheese, and it has to cure for a month before I can use it--to harden it up and also for the ph to come up to the correct level.

When I took the soap out of the mold, there were a few little stray bits around the edges that came off; so I scooped them all up in my hand and washed my hands with them. I was thrilled to see that my soap actually lathered up and behaved like, well, soap. It worked! I scented it with grapefruit essential oil, so it smells really good too. Can't wait to take a shower with it, lol.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Catching Up To Autumn

The lovely summer weather we had this year continued right through October and into the first week of November. Lots of places set record breaking warm temps in October. Then we had a cold snap. Temps were frigid, and we had one night that was 19 degrees. Wasn't ready for that.

We like to go leaf peeping every fall, and this year we visited the northernmost quadrant of the state--Madawaska, Presque Isle, Caribou and Holton.  This is probably the most spectacular fall foliage I've ever seen, but it was from last year, not this year. The end of September was supposed to be the peak viewing time for that zone; but, for whatever reason, they called that wrong because there just wasn't much color in the trees. There wasn't much else to see up in that area either except for lots of potato fields.

The weather was gorgeous though, and we did take a short hike into Baxter State Park to see one of the falls. My younger son likes to get right on the edge to take photos. Scares me half to death to watch him.

AND, there were 3 Marden's stores up that way, and we hit all of them. I bought a bunch of fat quarters in greens, oranges, purples, and yellows for a machine embroidered applique quilt with a Halloween theme that I've wanted to make for a long time. (No matter that Halloween has passed.) My LQS has an ongoing Monday morning embroidery group; so I signed up. That was the motivation I needed to get started, and now I'm rolling along.

The pattern features ghosts and witches hats, moon bats, cats and spiders, and candy corn and candy. It's been a fun quilt to work on so far, but I still have quite a bit of work to do. It measures something like 55 x 63 finished.


Saturday, July 8, 2017

Catching Up to July

I've been busy the last three months, but I can't even remember what I've been doing. Except, that, in May, I got myself involved with the state quilt show; and that has tied up an amazing amount of my time the last two months.

My granddaughter turned a year old last month, and we've spent as much time with her as we could. We also made a trip down to Maryland for a nephew's graduation. Thankfully, it wasn't too awfully hot, but I was still happy to get back to Maine weather. It's been a very nice summer here so far.

One thing is for sure, it's been kind of a dry year for quilting and knitting for me. I got exasperated with the 365 Challenge when it began to take up all my quilting time and I didn't have time to sew anything else. I am still collecting and printing out the blocks, and if it takes me three years to finish them, so be it.

I did finish up the last of the Farm Girl Vintage blocks but don't have the top together yet.
In April, Leslie Muir Volpe, a Maine artist who specializes in miniature quilts, did a workshop for my quilt chapter. I love minis and have been making them for years; even still, I learned a few new tricks from Leslie.
Our project for the workshop was Charming Churn Dash, and five of us finished ours by the next meeting. I am in the middle!

I put the workshop information to good use for this little sampler for a quilt chapter challenge. The quilt will finish at 24" square and contain 23 blocks in sizes 3", 6" and 9". The feathered star is the last block I have to finish before I can sew them all together.

The quilt has to be finished and turned in on July 19, so I don't have much time left. Nothing like waiting til the last minute, is there? lol


I put the last stitch into the binding just this morning on Neptune's Hexagons. As so often happens to me, I didn't like it when I was working on it, but now I do. Too late, I already promised it to my dear DIL.

It was constructed from a jelly roll plus background and borders.

Credit where credit is due: "Jelly Girl" by Joanna Figueroa of Fig Tree & Co.


I like the back of this quilt as much as or more than the front of it. It looks modern to me (and I know Nothing about modern), and I love the mixed up colors in the hexagons.

I wish I had had enough fabric to make the hexagons blocks all the way across, but I only had the one jelly roll, and I used every scrap of it. I did a progression thing, you know, 6 wedges, 5 wedges, 4 wedges and so on in the hexagons, but I'm not sure anyone understands it but me. My husband looked at it and wanted to know what was wrong with the blocks at the end. Sigh.








One bad thing--when I was squaring up the quilt after machine quilting it, I found a pin sticking out of the back of the quilt--not once, but twice. I use those flowerhead pins, and the flowerhead was lodged inside the quilt. Luckily, in both cases, it was close to the seam in the backing, so I was able to pick out a little bit of the seam, remove the pin, and stitch it back up.

No idea how those pins got left inside the quilt, never happened to me before. Isn't that your worst nightmare, to give someone a quilt and discover there are pins in it.

Monday, April 3, 2017

365 Challenge -- March 13 to April 2

I worked on bunches of 365 blocks this past week and all weekend long and finished up three weeks worth, mostly. I'm still missing three blocks, one from this past week and two from a couple weeks ago. Hopefully I'll get caught up with those this week. I hate getting behind because it's so much work to get caught up, but that's life.

New concepts Kathryn introduced over the last few weeks--mitered corners, units set on point, log cabin style blocks, and partial seams. We're getting the full treatment, especially when you consider that these are 3" blocks. Imagine how much easier it would be to apply these techniques to a larger block. By the time we finish the first dark border, we'll be able to handle just about anything.

I think the tan in that one block is too light, and I expect I'll have to remake it. But I'll wait and see what it looks like on the design wall. I had to remake the checkerboard block above because there wasn't enough contrast in those tiny half-inch squares. Sometimes you just don't know til you make it up.

This past week we worked on two of the borders that go round the central medallion. It was a lovely change to work with some lighter colored fabrics, and there are more light colored blocks coming up this month. Later this month we also sew together the central medallion with the first round of dark borders. Can't wait.

No finishes for March, didn't have time for much else this month, but I dug out this small quilt and decided it was time to get it quilted. This was an experimental piece, 15" x 18", from a long, looooong time ago. It was a technique developed by Pat Coulter called frigid piecing, so called because every single piece is inset, and freezer paper was applied to the back of each piece for accuracy. It is a lot of extra work to make a template for every single piece in the quilt, but it worked exceedingly well because every single seam I sewed is perfect--no puckers. Her website is still online, and if you google "frigid piecing", you'll find her notes on the subject.

Naturally it sat in the closet for years, because that's how I operate, lol. Actually it was because I had no idea how to quilt it. Recently I signed up for a class on Craftsy called Creative Quilting with Your Walking Foot, and Jacquie teaches something called matchstick quilting. Thought I'd try it out on this small piece. In the photo I've quilted lines at different angles 1" apart, and I'll go back and quilt in between those lines 1/4" apart. I am marking with painter's tape, and it's working very well.

My Christmas cactus is in full bloom this week. Strange plant. I have another one that I've had for two or three years, one that had white blossoms and was labeled a summer cactus. Stupid thing hasn't bloomed since I bought it. If it doesn't bloom by the end of the year, I'm trading it in for another model.

Even though we just had another snowstorm with a 6" snow dump, I found these strawberries from California on sale at the grocer's for $1.88 a container. That's a really good price for my neck of the woods, so we bought a bunch, cored them and flash froze them. They're huge, aren't they?


Farm Girl Vintage Weeks 16 and 17

I thought I already posted the first set of these Farm Girl Vintage blocks, but no. I'm finding it challenging to keep track of much of anything these days, just too darn much going on in my world. 33/45 blocks finished now, the end is in sight! I've ruled out the idea of enlarging the quilt, otherwise I might not get much else done this year, between the FGV blocks and the 365 blocks!

Monday, March 20, 2017

365 Challenge, Feb 27 - Mar 12

Trying to keep track of what week I'm on in the 365 Challenge was just too darn much trouble, so I'm going by the dates. These six blocks were from the week of February 27. I'm not sure if the theme that week was quarter square triangles or if it was those triangle in a triangle corner units, which I am not fond of.

The block for February 28 was the Centre Medallion, which finishes to 18". Although the center portion of the block was a little tricky to put together, it was a nice change from dark 3" blocks. I have to say that Kathryn's cutting measurements and piecing directions were spot on. Very pleased with how this block turned out.

There is another 6" wide border that goes around this block to enlarge the center medallion. I think that is slated for April, and then maybe I can sew all the blocks together that I've made so far. Progress!
This was the following week, Mar 6-Mar 12, with more of those triangle in a triangle corner units. Also more of the half square triangles that finished to 1/2", in the basket block. There was supposed to be a four patch unit in the basket base, but I eliminated it to simplify.

This was also the first introduction of a 6" block for the outer dark border. I was horrified when I first looked at that block, thinking those little triangles in the middle were going to finish smaller than a half inch. Finally realized it was a 6" block, not a 3" block, lol.

Haven't started on last week's blocks yet, so now a week behind. I do plan on sewing today, but maybe not the challenge blocks. I'd really like to make some headway on the Neptune quilt--would like for that to be my March finish.