Thursday, May 31, 2018

Piling Up Tops

Hello everyone, I've been so busy quilting that I haven't had time to blog. Nah, not really, I'm just not a good blogger. There has been lots to do around the house and in the yard this spring, and we're spending what time we can with our little granddaughter.

Warmer weather has finally come to Maine--80 degrees today and tomorrow with more warm days in the forecast. I'm not much of a gardener, preferring plants that take care of themselves completely. I've posted photos of my hostas in summers past, and they are a perfect example. They have done such a good job of taking care of themselves that quite a few of them are at least 6 feet in diameter. And my ferns along the edge of the woods are over 3 feet tall.

This year I had a yearning for a few flowers, so I bought some marigolds, pansies, and a few herbs and cleared a place for them in the back yard. The flowers don't seem to be doing very well, but the herbs are doing fine. Now that the trees in the back yard have leafed out, lack of sun may be the problem. Forgot about that when I planted the flowers. Like I said, I'm not much of a gardener.

I also bought three mayapples. My mother in Maryland had bunches of them in the woods beside her house, and I always loved them. I didn't know if mayapples would grow this far north, so I was surprised to see some at the nursery this year. They are a shade plant; and two of them are flowering, so they must be happy in their new location. I noticed this afternoon that something is eating the leaves, so I'll have to get to the bottom of that and fast.

I have been quilting as much as I can, and I have managed to get a couple of finishes and a small stack of quilt tops added to the pile with Stella Blue. My quilt chapter has been making and donating small quilts to NICU for a couple of years now, so charity baby quilts are an ongoing thing. I finished another Bricks quilt for NICU...

... another Teddy On Vacation (made one just like this 7 or 8 years ago, and this was from the left overs), still just a top ...

... and two more Jumping for Joy quilts (made the first one a year and a half ago from an article in Quiltmaker magazine), which got loaded on the frame yesterday. I don't know why on earth I bought so much of this teddy bear fabric, but it makes for a nice baby boy quilt. Still have plenty more to use up.

I was very happy to get the Halloween Fun top finished. Found a pantograph that looks like a spider web that I plan to quilt it with. Might have to practice a little first. Just have to decide if I want to use a light gray thread or something else.

 My potholder quilt was finished a couple weeks ago. The potholder method of quilting was introduced to me a couple years ago in a workshop by Wendy Caton Reed sponsored by my quilt group. Wendy is an award winning local quilter and has been quilting with the potholder method for many years; and she also writes a blog here. She had a phenomenal trunk show before the workshop featuring many of her original designs.

I love everything about the potholder method. Each block is finished as a small quilt, quilted and bound; then blocks are handsewn together to make the quilt. You can start small, just by sewing four blocks together; and you can keep adding more blocks until you get to the size you wish. At every stage, you always have a finished quilt.

After the first workshop, I made the first four blocks of this one-block strippy, which hangs in a narrow space in my bathroom. It was a finished product, and it stayed like that for quite a while. We just had another workshop with Wendy, and I made two more little blocks and added those to the bottom. I think I'm done with it now.

 After the Halloween quilt top was finished, I needed another embroidery project to work on, so I started Baltimore Revisited, which is a design from Anita Goodesigns. There are 20 different blocks. Each block is stitched out both in redwork and in a colored filled in design, so 40 blocks total.

I spent two months trying to decide which size to make and exploring different methods of quilting the blocks. In the end I decided to make the smallest size block, which finishes to 5-3/4"--because I like little blocks. And I decided to make it in the potholder style. I just have the one block quilted and bound, and the second one is just waiting for the binding. And I'm loving it.

"Myron's Campfire", from one of the Civil War Legacies book, was the next little top I finished. It measures something like 17" x 19" and was a fun, quick little quilt to make. I already had the civil war repros out to make the one-block strippy potholder quilt, so I got this finished up too.

The last top I've managed to get done is another Strip Tease quilt. I made one of these a long time ago and had a bunch of strip sets left over. I have several one-patch projects lined up to get rid of scraps and fabric I don't love anymore, and this was one of them. These are all 45 degree diamonds. On my list of one-patch quilts I want to make are quilts with 60 degree diamonds, half hexagons, half square triangles, and tumblers.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

That's Progress

We are finally on the back end of last night's nor'easter, and I think we have a foot or so on the ground. Before last night, most of our snow had melted, which I was glad about. Now they are already talking about another potential nor'easter on Monday/Tuesday. It's really been a very strange winter here in Maine.
The weeks have really flown by, and progress has been made on several quilts. This one is Stella Blue, by Miss Rosie's Quilt Company, pieced by my dear good friend Koleen. I've mentioned Koleen once in a while on the blog. She passed away last July after a nine-year battle with cancer, and I miss her so much sometimes that my heart hurts. Koleen left most of the contents of her sewing room to our other dear good friend and me. As a consequence, I inherited this top, and I'll return it to Koleen's husband when it's finished. Up close, it's a gorgeous quilt.

Koleen pieced the middle of this top before she passed away, and she made the flying geese units but hadn't sewn them into border strips yet. I had a devil of a time adding them because her quarter inch seam was a less generous than mine, lol. But it's now ready for quilting.

Welcome Home, Baby was my February finish. I bought several packages of those Cake Mix triangle papers, which I think are very clever. I have become a big fan of creating half square triangle units with triangle papers. I usually print my own from the Inklingo software or Brenda Hennings' Triangulations software, but the cake mix recipes were something different and fun.

I also bought some Cupcake Mix papers, which make smaller quilts; and this quilt was made from a block design on the Cupcake Mix #1 package. I had two sets of the block panels, so I'll make another one of these at some point to use the other panel.

I have two pumpkins left to stitch out for my Halloween quilt, and then I can add the borders and toss it in the RTQ pile. Yay! I enjoy machine embroidered applique, but the prep takes time, so this has been a long slog.

And this is my One Block Wonder, an experiment from Maxine Rosenthal's book of the same name. The stack and whack quilt I finished in January was supposed to have been a workshop last year for my quilt chapter, but it was cancelled due to weather, so I made it on my own. The workshop did occur last month finally, but I wanted to try some other stack and whack project, so I dug this fabric (on the left side of the photo) out of the closet and decided to give it a try. Didn't think I'd like it, but actually, I love it.

I still need to shift a few blocks around along the left and right edges, but I've already started sewing vertical rows with the blocks in the middle of the quilt. Only half the hexagon block is sewn together, then vertical rows are sewn and joined so there are no inset seams.

All of these quilts were new projects, started within the last six months or so. When they're finished, I've GOT to get back to the UFO pile.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

First Finishes for 2018

Last year was a dry year for me--only 6 finished quilts, my second worst year since I started keeping track in 2004. 2016 was my best year, with 18 finishes, and some of those were large quilts. I resist making New Year's resolutions; but I can do better, so I'm making two resolutions this
year--make time for more quilting and more blogging. I miss my blogging friends too. Housework will just have to suffer!

I finished Blue Palms for my son yesterday, so named because that was the name on the selvage. It is, of course, a Stack-n-Whack quilt from Bethany Reynolds' first book, Magic Stack-n-Whack Quilts. It's a big quilt--85" x 102"--so I was surprised that every hexagon block was very different.

My quilt group was supposed to have a Stack-n-Whack workshop last year; but something else came up for the instructor, so I went ahead on my own. She is slated to do the workshop for us next month, but I'm debating if I want to do another one right now. I'd like to try one of those One Block Wonder ones; so if I have something in the stash that will work, I might make a small one. Otherwise, I really don't need any more ufo's.

I had just enough of the original 6 yards to add a couple strips on the backing. Which was a really good plan, because I didn't have quite enough. I was never nuts about this fabric, but I was nuts about the colors, and I love how it looks in the hexagons.

And speaking of ufo's, I have over a hundred of them, in various stages of completion--sad, but true--so I go through my list once or twice a year and cull a few that I don't like anymore for one reason or another. This quilter's block case was one of them. I thought it was a great idea, but I wasn't happy with the way it was going together, so it landed in the ufo pile for several years.

I actually dug it out to disassemble it, but I got to looking at it and realized it was almost done, so I finished it. Now I'm glad I did. It's supposed to have a handle attached with grommets, and that may or may not get added. It unfolds completely flat, and it's large enough to hold a stack of 12-1/2" blocks. It's lined with flannel, so it's great to take to a workshop--the blocks stay where they belong in the case. I'd tell you the name of the pattern I used except I can't locate it right now. I think it was probably called Quilter's Block Case, but I couldn't locate it online either.

Update: the pattern is called Graham's Quilter's Block Case, GCC018 from the Graham Cracker Collection,

The holidays were pretty crazy--a trip down to Maryland for my MIL's 90th birthday, gift making, Christmas parties, multiple trips to son #1's house, two blizzards, bitter cold weather, and a couple of weekends with Baby Girl. Baby Girl, who is 18 months old now, got a puff quilt for Christmas. We took her to a craft fair, and she liked this; so she and her brother got it for Christmas. No way would I make one of these, would rather pay someone else!

My MIL moved to an assisted living facility last summer. At 90, she is forgetful and sometimes is easily confused, so she needs something on the door of her room to remember where it is. After her Christmas wreath was to come down, I stitched out this hummingbird for her door. There's some foam core inside to give it some stiffness. Now hubby wants one too.

We exchanged ornaments at the Christmas party for Monday Embroidery Group, so I made a couple of these free standing lace ornament covers. They turned out very nicely, but I never got one made for myself. Next year.

I must have made 6 or 7 dishcloths for Christmas. The kids each got two diagonal dishcloths with Christmas colors, plus a couple for us. This one was made from Red Heart Scrubby yarn, a polyester yarn I think. There is practically no absorbency to this yarn, but it scrubs well enough. Red Heart offers this yarn in cotton too, but it's harder to find and there isn't a huge choice for colors. I ordered mine from Amazon.

This is what the yarn looks like, so it's very forgiving if you make mistakes. Like many other novelty yarns, it's also harder to see if you drop a stitch and harder to rip back the work. It's also too busy for a patterned stitch, so a plain round garter stitch pattern worked fine.

After I knit so many dishcloths, I decided I wanted to use up some of the leftovers, so I made one last diagonal dishcloth. Ugly but functional.....

... and it's better than this, lol.

Wanda at Exuberant Color made a lovely dishcloth from leftover bits. I shall aspire to make my leftovers more attractive in the future, lol.

The Halloween quilt is coming nicely but I shall wait until I have a bit more of the top sewn together before I post it again. Still have over a dozen appliques to stitch out. The quilt is not that big--good wallhanging size--but it's lots of work to prepare, stitch and square up these embroideries.

Plus there are several other things I'm working on right now. Hoping to get four finishes in February.

Monday, December 25, 2017

White Christmas

It is snowing today in Maine, with a prediction of 8 - 12" of snow. It is the first White Christmas we've had in 15 years. Son #2 came down Saturday morning before the worst of the ice storm; Son #1 and family will try to get up here today, hopefully by noon.

In the meantime, we will have fried dough for Christmas breakfast. My parents were from Maine, and we had fried dough every year on Christmas morning. Never heard of it anywhere else 'til we moved to Maine, so it must be a Maine thing. After I was married, hubby carried on the tradition; and now my kids look forward to it every Christmas.

No time to do Bonnie Hunter's annual Thanksgiving mystery this year; but I've collected all the parts and look forward to making it at some point, and I'm anxious to see the reveal.

In fact, not much time for quilting the latter half of this year; but come New Year's, I intend to really put the pedal to the metal. I have a long list of UFOs and quilts for the family I want to finish this year. Not getting any younger!

I wish all of you the most splendid Christmas with your families and friends. Merry Christmas and enjoy the holidays!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Busy Week

Hope everyone had a dandy Thanksgiving. We spent a few days at Son #1's home and had a fine Thanksgiving. Only down side? No leftovers! So we made ourselves a roast turkey with stuffing and gravy for Sunday dinner, and I finished the leftovers for lunch today. Good stuff.

Had too many things to do on Monday so I missed Embroidery Group. I did however, spend some time at home continuing work on the Halloween quilt. I stitched out one pumpkin block and cut out the appliques for all the rest of the candy corn, so that's ready to go for this coming Monday.

I would really like to get the top section of the quilt together this coming week. Still have 3 candy blocks and one short pumpkin to stitch out in order to do that. Baby Girl will be here in less than an hour, and we'll have her over the weekend. Best I can hope for over the next couple days is just to get the pieces cut out for those four blocks.

I worked on some more dishcloths too, finished the fourth one this morning. One more and I'll be done with those for Christmas. Next up is a Scrubby Yarn dishcloth!

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.