Sunday, February 14, 2021

New Year, New Projects

The weather has been bone chilling this month, especially at night; but we don't have much snow on the ground. When we first moved to Maine nearly 20 years ago, the snow might be up to my waist some winters, but not anymore. Snowmobilers and skiers aren't happy about it, but I'm fine with it. Pandemic or not, I've stayed in because it's just too darn cold to go out. 

The holidays passed uneventfully. My sister-in-law was here for two weeks, and it was nice to have the company. We worked on a puzzle together, something I hadn't done in years; and I enjoyed it so much that I hauled out a few more and built those too. The last one was 2000 pieces, and I have one left I haven't built yet that is 3000 pieces. That might be big enough, lol. Ravensburger, whom I heard from my SIL is a premiere puzzle maker, has one that is over 40,000 pieces. Can't imagine. 

Hardly any sewing got done in December because of the festivities and company, but I did manage to get the Holiday Extravaganza top put together. These fabrics were a collection from Alison Glass, and I just love them. Not a clue how I'm going to quilt this yet. 

Nothing much got done in January either, but the Christmas Cards I was working on as a leaders and enders project is now a finished top as well. The letters are machine embroidered, and the tiny Christmas bulbs make them look like strings of lights. No clue how I am going to quilt this one either. 

I'm not in the mood for One Monthly Goal anymore, preferring to start new projects and skip around between the new ones and the old ones. I updated it and left it in the sidebar simply as a space holder so I could remember how to do the html if I go back to it at some point. There seem to be a bunch of sew alongs that started in January, and I decided to follow along with a couple of them. 

Michelle Renee Hiatt's Best of the 60s mystery quilt actually started in mid December. This block of the week focuses on the use of Studio 180's Star 60 ruler; and as you can see, all of the blocks so far have been 60-degree pieced triangles. Clues up through clue 11 have been posted, but I've only worked up through clue 8 because I am having a bit of trouble with fabric choices. That should be resolved by clue 13, and then I can get back to work. 

There are three of each block so far, and I'm wondering if the entire quilt will be pieced blocks or if there will be any plain filler blocks.

I've had a couple sizes of Strip Sticks for quite a while, and they're working especially well to press open all the seams in these blocks. Batiks press up well anyway, but the strip stick helps my blocks stay nice and flat. 

For those who might not know, strip sticks are wood sticks covered with a thin layer of padding and some muslin. They are flat on one side and rounded on the other, making them especially handy for ironing strip sets. In blocks like these triangular blocks where there are a lot of seams close together, the strip stick is superb at isolating one seam so you don't accidentally mess up any surrounding seams with the iron. 

In February, Moda started a monthly sew along called My Favorite Color is Moda.Sampler style quilts are suddenly appealing to me again, so I bought a kit of fabrics in a colorway I liked plus the pattern book and got started.

I have never like working with solids, and this kit is all solids. Some of the fabrics in my Holiday Solstice were solids, hand dyed fabrics with a little texture actually, which I liked. So I decided I would give this a try. So far I'm bored, lol, but I think it will get better. 

The blocks in the sampler are variously sized, and block 1 is the largest at 36" square, big enough for a one-block baby quilt. I didn't imagine this block was so big in the picture above, but it's a pretty big quilt. 

The projects above are on hold for the time being, so I've switched gears to pineapple blocks. The colored blocks were swap blocks from years ago, and I dug them out two summers ago to work on at camp. The colored blocks are finished now and sewn together in rows of two; and I'm working on a border of blue pineapple blocks at the moment.

I've always been a slow sewist, slow at everything really; and these blocks take a long time for me to make. I'm about halfway there, and if I can make  two a day or every other day, I can finish the rest by the end of the month. Then there is another pieced border and some plain borders, so there's still a lot of work left to do. My goal is to have the quilt completely finished by mid May in time to register it for Maine Quilts 2021. It's virtual again this year, so the quilt has to be finished to take the photo.

Working with scraps always seems to beget more scraps, and the pineapple blocks are no exception. I continue to accumulate strings from strips that are no longer wide enough to use in a round. Coincidentally, I came across this block on Pinterest the other day, and a light bulb went on. This block is absolutely perfect to use up the blue strings, along with smaller chunks. I decided that my only rule for these blocks was that the fabrics had to be predominantly blue. Other than that, I don't care if the fabrics are prints, plaids, batiks, calicos, whatever. As long as they read blue, they're going in. No worries either about contrast or value, just sew them together. How refreshing! Mindless sewing at its best.

The pattern for this block linked from Pinterest to If you search on Eastern Sunrise, you'll find it. It's 7-1/2" finished, and it's paper pieced, but that's not a hard and fast rule for me. If my strings are too narrow, I'll add more until the paper is filled. Plus they're pretty fast for me to make, a lot faster than pineapples anyway. A size 90 needle and a 1.5 stitch length makes quick work of removing the paper. Put together in rows, these blocks kind of remind me of barbed wire. I love this!

I plan to go through the stash and cull all my blue fabrics that are ugly, unappealing, old as the hills, or problematic in some way, and cut them up for this quilt. I could probably use the ones that are fat-quarter size or larger and piece them together for the back. Probably won't put a dent in it, lol. I also have a stack of muslin I've been trying to figure out what to do with, and these blocks will be perfect for that too.


Chantal said...

Oops, sorry Sue, I might have drooled on your Holiday Extravaganza quilt top. What a beauty! I love the colours, the little lined trees and how airy it is. Gorgeous! Now, please tell me this. Where do you set up a puzzle with 40,000 pieces? Crazy, really. Love your pineapple border. Haven't seen one like that yet. I love it! Maybe Moda Solid will grow on you. The quilt looks very nice on the pattern. I too need to tackle the strings. They are like an overgrown garden and I don't know where to begin. I already have lots of projects on the go, so I'll let them multiply some more, lol. Love your idea to reduce the not-so-in-love-with fabric. ;^)

Judy S. said...

Nice to see your post! I think we got your share of the snow over this past weekend. It's finally melting enough to get in our daily walk. You are certainly a gifted quilter. I'm just doing a little piecing and realize I am pretty rusty at it. Wow, I thought a 1000 piece puzzle was pretty daunting!

cityquilter grace said...

oooh lots of pretty projects! glad to see you posting again but more important, all that sewing progress!