Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Catching Up To August

Good grief, the time goes by quickly. Today is a gorgeous summer day in Maine--breezy, 74 degrees, low humidity, and lots of sunshine--exactly the way a summer day should be in Maine. We've had just a few days of heat and humidity here and there, and I don't think we've hit 90 degrees yet this summer. I'm hoping August will be as nice.

We've had a good mix of rain and sun this summer as well, which has been good for the plants. The hostas are blooming...

...the black-eyed susans are blooming...

...and the tiger lilies are just coming into bloom. I'm not much of a gardener, so it's good these flowers can take care of themselves.

Cherries are in season this month too, and the local grocery has had them on sale for the last three weeks for $2.49 a pound, the lowest I've seen. I bought a couple pounds and made this Cherry Buttermilk Clafoutis, cherries in sort of a custard-type filling. The recipe came from the Relish.com website, and it was really good.

Tacoma Lakes Quilters had their summer picnic this month, and most of the chapter attended. We always have a potluck edible buffet, which is so good; and this year we tried something a little different--an Inedible Buffet. Each of the participants was asked to make identical items for each person in the group, then all the items were placed in baskets on a table, and we each went round and chose from all the different baskets.

There were 32 participants this year, so we went home with quite a variety of kitchen items, sewing notions, some fabric, and a few miscellaneous items. I think my favorite thing was an awl, something I've wanted for a while and just never bothered to pick up at the store. We had such a good time with the Buffet that we'll do it again next year.
The last weekend in July is also the month that the state guild, Pine Tree Quilters, hosts its annual show in Augusta. It seemed to me that there were fewer quilts this year, but it was a nice show. I only took a few photos of quilts I thought maybe I'd like to make sometime. This one was made by The Fabric Garden quilt shop for some kind of a contest and was one of my favorites. I thought the pattern was called Doubly Charming, but I couldn't find it on the web, so now I'm not sure.

Pineapple, made by Anne Baker

Red, White, and Blue, made by Carmen Dickinson.This was from a pattern by Bonnie Hunter called Smith Mountain Morning. I really liked it done in patriotic colors.

Just Takes 2 Blue, made by Dianne Barth. This evidently was from a block of the month designed by Brenda Papadakis of Dear Jane fame.

Dianne Hire, who is a nationally known quilter, wrote a book called App is For Applique, released in 2013 by AQS. It consists of 14 of these gorgeous, detailed applique blocks, and the 15 quilts that were made with them. Oddly enough, the author only made one block and turned it into a small quilt. MaineQuilts had the exhibit of all the quilts from the book, and they were all fantastic.

I have become quite enamored of the machine buttonhole stitch method of applique, and some of the quilts from Dianne Hire's exhibit were done this way. This block is from a quilt in the show made by Sue Nickels, who seems to do lots of quilts with this machine buttonhole stitch applique. I'm a big fan of Sue Nickels and her sister Pat Holly. 

I also took some classes at MaineQuilts this year, a couple for longarm machine quilters and one called Sliced Steps by Jane Hall. Jane Hall is the pineapple queen of the quilt world, and I have three of her books. She was a delightful teacher and shared some new ideas for paper piecing that I hadn't seen before. 

This was Jane's quilt for the class, and I'm guessing it might have measured something like 22" x 27", so a smaller quilt. A perfect little project for scraps, and not as complicated as it looks. We made a mockup from printed paper samples that Jane gave us; and since it was only a 3-hour class, most of us only got one block sewn. But it was enough to get the idea of how to do it, so I'll work on some more of these blocks. 

As for me, I have been chipping away at four sets of blocks on the design wall. The top half of the Curvy quilt is done, and I'm working on the third quarter of it; the star blocks are for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge; the plaid blocks will be for a friend of mine; and the rest are for a winter quilt designed by another friend. I'm afraid I won't get any finishes this month though.

I did finish the purple String Theory socks though. This is a really nice yarn made in Blue Hill, Maine--it's got a some cashmere in it. I'm also nearly done with a little lacy cardigan, but I've been dragging my feet getting the neckband done. I'll get there.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Catching Up to July

We weren't entirely certain if we would have summer or not because it was such a cool spring. Last week it seems to me I got up one morning and it was 59 degrees. But the heat rolled in yesterday, and the humidity rolled in this morning. I went to a friend's for lunch at noon, and it was uncomfortably warm sitting outside on her porch.

When the weather warms in the spring in Maine, growth just erupts everywhere. Hostas are planted on either side of my back walkway, and they are bigger than ever this year, and so are my ferns. I've cultivated them along the tree line, and they're huge.

I've done way more knitting than quilting in the last couple months, but I've gotten a few quilts finished up. It kinda goes in cycles, you know? Our quilt chapter works on some sort of charity project every year, and this year we are donating to Project Linus; so I finished up three strippies for the project. This bugs-in-a-jar fabric is pretty cute, I think.

I also spent some time working on a quilt that one of hubby's female friends at work wanted. I don't normally do consignment quilts, but she's a nice gal and wanted it for her daughter, who is leaving the state for a residency in Utah as a cardiac surgeon.

Quilting Treasures is evidently licensed to print Wizard of Oz fabrics, and I believe they've printed 4 or 5 collections over the years. It was tough finding fabrics that are now out of print, but we managed to find a kit on eBay with sepia toned fabrics.

The seller substituted three different fabrics for ones in the kit, which didn't present too much of a problem; but the cutting instructions in the directions were also incorrect, so cutting and sewing took more time than I anticipated.

The customer also wanted words in the quilt. Piecing letters not only would have been a headache but it also would have changed the dimensions of the quilt, and I was worried about having enough fabric as it was. Hubby came up with the brilliant idea to embroider them.  We were all pleased how the final quilt turned out.

Finally finished the grey leaf patterned socks...

...a pink baby sweater set that languished for a loooong time, waiting for seaming and  buttons...

...and the knit swirl I was working on back in April. I wanted to have it completed by May 30 so I could wear it to a concert. I actually finished it on time but never got a chance to wear it because it was an outdoor concert, and it was 50 degrees and threatening rain that evening.

The design of the sweater is brilliant. It blocked flat before the seaming was done, then I sewed the sleeve seams together and the neck seam. I shortened the sleeves, and they are absolutely perfect. A beautiful sweater that will have to wait for cooler weather before the first wearing.

My younger son graduated in May with two Accounting degrees. He actually has one more course to complete for one of the Accounting degrees, but the university evidently decided to confer both degrees in May, then he gets his diplomas in December when he finishes up. Poor kid has been in school for nearly seven years. He spent two years in community college and earned an Associate's in Culinary Art before he started on the accounting. More skills in this horrible job market is a good thing.

I'm trying to decide what quilt projects to work on in July. I already have several projects kicking around the studio, and I've got a couple of new quilts I want to start for family. I think first up is going to have to be the Curvy quilt I started a few months ago. I taught a workshop in May for my quilt chapter and made just enough blocks to teach the class. Time to get that finished next, I guess.

Credit where credit is due: Whirlwind Quilt by QuiltingTreasures.com