Sunday, February 14, 2010

Hexie #11

I was a busy girl in my sewing room this week--making up for lost time, I guess. I started a few new projects (you can never have too many UFOs) and experimented with some new blocks. I also worked on my September Sun some more-- got the first round of borders on and have three more to go. I would sure like to get that top done this week. Projects are beginning to stack up on top of each other on my design wall.

The consensus seems to be that blue will look fine in my hexagon project (and thank you for that), so I made another blue block this week and have fabrics chosen for several more. Here is the first sashing strip as well.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Star Crazy!

I didn't do one thing I was supposed to do in the sewing room yesterday. I was supposed to be embroidering a label for the Pinwheel Party quilt and quilting my mini log cabin. Instead, I sat down to blog a little in the morning and wound up blogging all day. Well.... I haven't had as much time to blog as I'd like, and I was really enjoying myself.

I got myself into a little trouble though surfing the web all day. I forget where, but I discovered a blog called Star Crazy Log, which is composed of a group of quilters who are all making this quilt called Star Crazy by Sue Garman. It's a Block of the Month designed by Sue for Alex Anderson's Quiltshow, and you can only access the pattern if you have a membership. I had seen the quilt on their website last year and thought it was spectacular. I just didn't do anything about it.

I've got about 60 UFO's in my closet now, but that's not nearly enough. So I bit the bullet, joined the Star Crazy Log blog, bought myself a membership to Quiltshow, downloaded the first couple of blocks, and spent some time yesterday pulling fabrics from the stash. I've got the rest of this month to catch up, then I'll be right on schedule for the March BOM. Normally I don't have the patience for BOM's, but I've got so many other irons in the fire right now that this may be a good thing.

There's nothing difficult about this quilt. It's all squares and half square triangle units--it's just that there's lots of piecing. Paper piecing templates for the half square triangle units are provided with the downloadable files, but I'll use my standard method of "make it big and square it up".

I have a good collection of batiks but not so many brights, so I may have to add a few (uh oh, stash enhancing). Even if I have to buy a few fat quarters though, it'll still be a great stashbuster and scrapbuster--the pattern calls for 10 yards of background fabric; and amazingly, I've got that right in the stash. One gal on the Star Crazy blog is using 30's repros, and I bet hers will be beautiful too.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Hexies #9 and #10

Not only did I complete two hexies this week, one for last week and one for this week, but I had them done before I went to bed Friday evening. So yesterday I spent the day printing and cutting hexagons. I kitted up enough for five more blocks and planned out color combinations for another dozen or so. It also occurred to me that maybe I should start piecing some sashing strips, else I'll have a thousand cream colored hexagons to piece all at the end, which would be boring.

For the sashing I wanted to use this cream colored fabric with the red flowers on it left over from another quilt, especially since I have quite a bit of it left. I laid out a few blocks and some of the sashing pieces to see what it might look like, and I like it. I also realized that some of my color combinations may not work so well, like the blue and pink one, and I may have to replace them later on. On the other hand, they may look just fine when I have 80 blocks put together. I'm determined to have some pink in this quilt too, but maybe not that blue. Hmm, maybe a darker blue.

Today I'll work on a couple of sashing strips and start on another hexagon block tomorrow.

Ice Jam

A week or so ago I read in the newspaper that Augusta and Hallowell experienced some flooding along the river. It is not uncommon for the streets along the waterfront to flood in the spring, but what apparently caused the flooding last week was a mile-and-a-half-long ice jam, and the ice was supposedly still piling up behind it. It only took seven minutes for the waterfront in Augusta to flood. One man reported that he parked his car along the waterfront, walked up to Water Street to shop, and when he came back to his car 15 minutes later, the parking lot was completely flooded. At that point, the river was 17 feet above normal.

We'd had quite a bit of rain right before that, which I suppose must have been part of the January thaw. All the rain caused the water level in the Kennebec to rise, broke up the layer of ice on the river, and it all started flowing downstream. When the water started to recede, the ice started jamming up. According to the Maine Emergency Management Agency, the ice was 10-15 feet thick in some places. That would make for some pretty big chunks of ice, wouldn't it?

Yesterday we went out to get a few photos of the ice jam, but we didn't stay out too long because it was awfully cold. I took this picture from the Gardiner-Randolph bridge, and you can see where the ice jam starts.

The Coast Guard cutters usually come up the river in the spring to break up the ice, but they can't get past the bridge, so there's nothing they can do to break up the jam. All they can do for now is to keep the ice south of the bridge broken up to allow the ice to continue flowing, once it breaks up north of the bridge. The fear now is that the ice will break up, flow down past the bridge, jam up again, and flood Gardiner.

It's really quite an unusual sight. The river is normally smooth when it's covered with ice, and the surface is now covered with these big chunks of ice. Some of the ice is so thick it's actually blue in this photo. One old timer said that in 30 years he'd never seen ice chunks like this coming down the river.

If you're interested, there's an incredible You Tube video of the river here and another here.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Pineapple Blossom

Wednesday was the first meeting of the month for the Tacoma Lakes Quilters. We had several demonstrations that day, and I agreed to do a demonstration for freezer paper piecing, which is my new favorite method of paper piecing. There's a great tutorial illustrating the method here.

While I was casting about for an idea for my demo, I remembered Bonnie Hunter's Pineapple Blossom. This quilt has been on my list of wannado's for a long time, and I also wanted to make another miniature, so this one fit the bill.

Bonnie's block is pieced using traditional methods, finishes to 9 inches square, and she used sashing in between her blocks. The blocks can also be easily pieced on a foundation, so I drafted mine into EQ6, reduced the size to 4 inches, and printed out a few foundations on freezer paper. Then I sewed four blocks together to make the little medallion you see in the photograph. It was perfect for my demo.

The coloration I'm using came from a quilt called "Geese In The Garden" in Gayle Bong's book, Save The Scraps. The block Gayle uses creates the same effect but uses a different construction method. You can see a little bit of her quilt in the upper right corner of the front cover. With dark fabrics on one half of the block and pastels on the other half, you wind up with these dark and light medallions (or whatever you want to call them) in the quilt. It's quite a nice effect.

I think I'd like to make a little nine-medallion quilt with these, no sashing, and maybe a nice border print.

And speaking of Bonnie Hunter and books, I got Bonnie's new book in the mail last week, and I love it! There are 12 projects in the book, all scrappy of course, and an explanation of her leaders and enders system. Well done, Bonnie!

Monday, February 1, 2010

First Finish for 2010

I was completely consumed last week with finishing the Pinwheel Party quilt, to the exclusion of everything else in the sewing room, including my hexagon block for the week. Sometimes it just has to be that way. I doubt if I'll get an extra hexie done this week, but I can try.

I did receive another set of encoders for the longarm from the company, and they too started binding up before I even finished a small practice piece. Obviously the company is having some problems. My husband eventually developed a workaround, and I was able to finish the quilting on Thursday evening.

I just love this Plumage pantograph from Willow Leaf. It's the first time I've used it, and I might try to quilt it on my September Sun too. It was also the first time I used a variegated binding. I love the look of it and will use that again as well. Still have to make that darned label!
Credit where credit is due: quilt design by The Quilted Cardinal