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.

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.

Farm Girl Vintage Friday, Weeks 13 to 15

We left Friday morning to go to my son's to spend the weekend caring for my little granddaughter. My son worked, and my daughter-in-law wanted to see a friend off down in Connecticut, so we had Baby Girl all to ourselves during the days. She stayed with us last weekend, so we were pleased to have her two weekends in a row this month.

I think I got a week out of sequence somewhere with the Farm Girl Vintage blocks; but no matter, I finished these four blocks the week before last...there's the Milking Day block that goes with the Cow block I made earlier...

...and these are the blocks for Week 15, which was last week. No way did I have 30 different 30s repros for the pumpkin block, so I repeated a few fabrics and threw in some other orange fabrics I had--to include one with a pair of scissors, and one with Mr. Potato Head, lol. I like the idea of a little surprise here and there.

Well over halfway through the blocks and border flying geese units now. I'm toying with the idea of making this quilt large enough to fit on a double bed, but I'll figure that out later.

February Finish

A small finish, 12" x 14", but a finish nonetheless. Finally got it quilted, with a diamond pattern in the center and a double curve in the border. I don't do much free motion quilting, so I drew the border pattern on Golden Threads paper, pinned it in place in the borders, and stitched through the paper. Easy peasy, and no markings to worry about removing.

Credit where credit is due: design and fabrics by Kim Diehl

Tuesday, February 28, 2017


Despite being busy enough with 365 Challenge blocks and Farm Girl Vintage blocks, I still want to work on some other projects. One of the quilters in my chapter asked for donations of twin size quilts for a local shelter, and I remembered I had this project in the ufo pile. One of my kids claimed it before I could even think of donating it, so I'll have to plan something else for the shelter.

I must have bought the fabric for this as a kit, like a jelly roll and extra yardage; but I don't think I ever had the pattern, just a cover picture of the pattern that I printed out. I can't even remember how I knew how to cut and piece these blocks, but it doesn't matter now because they're all made, and I've just started sewing the blocks into rows. I wish I could get more time to work on it.

The pattern is called "Jelly Girl" by Joanna Figueroa from Fig Tree & Co. Coincidentally I just discovered the other day that Joanna has a class on Craftsy called Smarter Strip Quilting featuring this same pattern, plus a diamond pattern.

365 Challenge Weeks 7 and 8

Despite being away from the machine for a little while, I did get caught up with the 365 Challenge blocks. Most of the blocks for week 7 were pretty easy, and I made a few extras to fill in holes from previous weeks. One of those had 42 pieces--eek!--so I simplified it. I see more simplification and substitution in my future.

A few of the week 8 blocks were more complicated, but in the latter half of the week Lori introduced squares on point. Those were easy, but they will get harder too. The little T's block this week had 39 pieces to it, with half square triangle units that finish to 1/2", but it was too cute not to make. Seems like it took hours.

Anyone who is familiar with the Dear Jane movement might recall that diehard Dear Janers tracked the piece count for their individual quilts. I thought that would be interesting to do for the 365 Challenge too. So far, I've made 58/365 blocks, with a piece count of 780. I've made a few changes in the blocks as I've gone along, so my piece count won't be the same as everyone else's, but I suppose it would be close. It'll be interesting to see if it surpasses the Dear Jane piece count of 5,602.

FGV Friday, Weeks 12 and 13

I was gone from the house five days in a row a week and a half ago, so lots of things didn't get done. These blocks are from week 12 of the 2015 Farm Girl Vintage quiltalong on Lori's website. Haven't done the blocks from last week yet, nor this week's, so I'll have to try and finish four blocks before this coming Friday.

We had a nice little warm up in central Maine this week, so much of the three feet of snow we had on the ground has melted. Happy to see some grass, but hate seeing the dirty snow all along the sides of the road from the salt and sand. Spring is coming!

Monday, February 13, 2017

365 Challenge -- Weeks 4, 5 and 6

Maine has been getting hammered for the last 24 hours by a huge storm system, a nor'easter, that moved in yesterday afternoon. The first prediction I saw was for 20"-26", but they walked that back as time went on. I think we've probably gotten 12"-14" of snow. It is brighter now outside, so the storm is winding down, but it is still very windy. Even the plows had to stop because of blizzard-like conditions.

Between the Farm Girl Vintage blocks, which are not quick blocks to make, and the 365 Challenge blocks, which are getting more complicated, I'm beginning to find that I don't have time to work on much else. That's a little frustrating. Maybe I need to do less housework.

Nevertheless, here are my 365 Challenge blocks for weeks 4, 5 and 6. There is a block missing from each week--blocks that have lots of very small pieces. The block in week 6 with the pale blue star has 36 pieces in a 3" block. One of the three I haven't made yet has 42 pieces. Can't help but think that anyone who tackles this quilt is a little bit nuts.

So now, we've covered half square triangle units and quarter square triangles. Today begins a series of blocks with diagonals. We're getting the full workout.

Knitting continues. The Imagine When shawlette was finished and blocked.

Next up, another ufo called Harlequin Baby, an entrelac project. Entrelac is fun, but it can be a little tricky to get started if you haven't done it before. I learned it a while ago, but Gwen Bortner has a good class on entrelac on Craftsy. I absolutely love Craftsy; and if you wait for one of their frequent sales, you can buy classes very reasonably. Way less than some of the other online universities.

Not crazy about this yarn though. It's a bulky weight (so my blanket will knit up faster) called Maypole by Euro Baby. The long colorway is fun for entrelac, but I don't care for the crinkly texture so much, and it seems to fuzz while I'm working with it. My other issue is that the pile of yarn on the left was wound around the main ball and not attached. There are a number of places where yarn ends are tied together in a knot, which I hate. The yarn shop where I bought it has since gone out of business. What's worse, I bought several other balls in a different colorway. I think this is a make-it-work moment.

My happy picture today!