Think about this.....

...the only thing scarier then reaching out to the unknown is settling for that with which we are comfortable.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Uncomfortably Quiet

The family has all left and returned to their homes. The house is very quiet; uncomfortably so. While we don't sit and visit together 100% of the time, just having everybody here with all the noise and activity is such a warm-fuzzy type of time.

Jim returns back to work tomorrow and the quiet will become deafening. This is why Pandora is playing during the week to keep me company. Since we have now crossed into Christmas territory, I'll shift channels from Nora Jones Radio to Holiday music. Perhaps this will keep my sanity in check.

Today is Sunday and I don't have any small project in line for today. I vowed I was going to tackle the Bonnie Hunter Mystery Quilt. While the family was here I was actually able to pull up the first clue and it requires 240 HST's! Instead of making them the way I usually do, I think I'm going to use a type of paper-pieced method I learned of from one of the other on-line participants. Katie uses this method also and it seems to yield a more accurate HST then the traditional way.

The color way Bonnie has selected for this year, however, isn't really my fav. I want to change it up and may only do a percentage of her given clue after checking out the block on my QuiltPro program. I'll fiddle with that this morning and see where the day takes me afterwards.

While my father was visiting, I asked if he actually wanted to watch DW do some work and see how it is I get him to drive the machine himself, or how I can drive the machine manually. He had a lot of questions and we actually spent some time in my studio during his visit; which is extremely unusual. Usually, people just casually breeze by the room and give it a cursory glance while heading to their bedroom or the bathrooms. My brother even spent some time in here with me later in the day and that made me feel like the family is finally catching on to what is currently so important in my life. Maybe?


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Shopping

I'm blogging late tonight because mom and I picked up the little kid at campus this morning and then the three of us went shopping, shopping, shopping. Man, can my mom shop!

I only purchased some Mono Poly thread by Superior Threads from Gall. This is so I can appliqué the pieces of the dreaded Pepperdish pieces down in place when the time gets nearer. The original pattern calls for turned-edge appliqué, but I'm not even going to go there. Tried it. Didn't like it. Will probably never go there again. It's fusible web all the way baby!

Since fusible has a tendency to release its hold after a period of time, and since this is a table topper, I'm thinking it will end up getting laundered quite frequently so I better adhere those flower petals down good.

After returning home, I made up for yesterday's neglect on my four (1) string quilt blocks and then made todays as well. I'm now back on track. Of course, I'm sure I'll get behind during the holiday weekend, but we have sew-in later in December in which I can catch up on the days I miss.

Most of yesterday was spent on Pepperdish. It's coming along, I suppose. I'm still not really sure about the colors. Mine will definitely turn out completely different then all the others in the guild, but I don't know if this will be in a good way. I'll just keep forging ahead to see what comes of it in the end. It's too late to turn back now.

While I was constructing the turning pieces of the pattern and then posting them on the design wall, noticed I had a real major goof. I only created eight pieces of the color I needed to create 12 of. I had to come to grips my quilt was going to turn out to be completely different then the intended design; and then walked away for a while.

When I came back, my brain must have engaged because I still had enough pattern pieces, template pieces, and more importantly, fabric to cut four more of the correct pieces I needed. Sure, I had already cut too many fabric pieces of the wrong color, but hey, I was back on track and then back to sewing I went.

And sew.

And sew.

I was in the studio until almost 9:30 and I actually started pretty early (for me anyway) yesterday.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

UFO's

Did I mention a while back about the Pepperdish class I took? The one where we learn the Judy Niemeyer technique of paper piecing while doing a large table topper project?

The class was in mid-October just before I headed out to Cali to see our new grandson. I hadn't even completed assembling the several small parts before leaving and found the need to drag this project back out again yesterday.

Yes, yes, yes, yes, I did do some work on DW and the Sock quilt, and I did do my four (1) string quilt block, but then after lunch, headed straight for the Pepperdish thing.

I say "thing" because what pieces I do have together, aren't fitting together so well. I'm already concerned about it and probably my reason for ignoring it since my return home.

It was time to push up the shirt sleeves and dig in to figure out where I left off, what I needed yet to do, and in what direction I needed to head to get this thing done.

The piece has a lot (and I mean a lot) of curved piecing. I recall the few that were done in the middle of the "thing" which didn't work out so well; and there seemed to be a lot of puckers in the assembly. Then, a lightbulb came on!

One of the classes I took on-line, instructed us to put the smallest piece on the bottom (which is contrary of what we want to do as piecers) before easing the curves together. After trying to piece two of the curves yesterday the "old" way (and again, having some pucker issues), I remembered this little tidbit of information and switched which piece was on top.

Ureka! No puckers are formed!

Yesterday I tackled the smaller curved piecing and today I'll be assembling the largest segments prior to piecing the larger curves together. The middle section, no matter how I arrange it on my design wall, still seems to be skewed at the outset, but maybe after getting it under my machine, it'll straighten out? Cross your fingers.


Monday, November 24, 2014

Thank-You Gifts

Isn't it great to have friends and family acquaintances who remember comments or wishes when they talk with you? We are truly lucky to have as many of those very people within our circle of life.

Larry and Julie remembered a comment mom made to them about our need for some rhubarb plants. They rehomed about 50 plants and wow, did they ever take off in the garden. They certainly didn't look like first year plants at the end of this growing year.

I like to thank those people who do this kind of stuff for us. Sometimes it takes me a while to get them something because I don't just go out and purchase a thank you trinket. I like to speak to those who are close to those people and get an idea of something useful to them and not just something as a "just something", ya know?

Larry and Julie have a small cabin they get away to and it's decorated in the traditional knotty pine and rustic type of items. We (mom and I) settled upon a nice moose table runner for them and so yesterday, this is what I created.

Table runner for Larry and Julie
Four (1) more string blocks were done yesterday, but no DW work. Too involved in this moose thing I think to fire him up.

I'll have to make it up to him today and get him out of his slumber.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Messenger Bag

Finally, a picture I can share because I actually completed something.

The inside of the bag
Notice the zippered pocket located inside my bag. I actually made a zipper! This is huge for me since sewing in the conventional sense, just isn't my usual cup of coffee.

Here is the completed exterior of the bag.
The finished Messenger Bag
The original pattern didn't have any shaping on the front flap, so I added one for a little femininity. It'll be a nice bag to shop with over the holiday season.

I started quilting on the Sock quilt yesterday. DW is doing most of the quilting on this one since it will probably be a sale quilt. I attempted to do some free motion something or another on it and it just wasn't working-at all! Unsewing ensued and consumed an hour of my evening.

Another string quilt block was completed last night to add to the three already done. I think the pattern calls for 120 blocks total (I make four at once for a large block, so in reality, I'll need to make 30 of them). If I continue on in my schedule with these, the blocks will be done in a month, right?

Everybody out there in electronic land seems to be in a state of excitement over Bonnie Hunters new mystery quilt, which starts next week. I think I've decided to not use her color scheme (pink, blue, green, yellow, and white) and am going with a more monochromatic scheme of my own.

I'm going to audition each weeks blocks with my QuiltPro program and stick to my studio colors. I should probably get out of my "studio" colors mode, but I have a lot of yellow, red, black, white, and grey in my stash, and frankly, being able to participate fully as all the other quilters out there are just isn't a possibility with Jim still being hurt and unable to work.

Since it's Sunday, and I like to work on small projects today, I'm going to be starting a table runner for a family friend who kindly gave us about 50 rhubarb plants this last spring. It's a thank-you gift to her and her husband who were kind enough to rehome the plants to us for Jim's edible pleasures.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Resources

I love the internet! I am in need of a bag/purse with a long handle for slinging over the many layers of winter clothing Michiganders have to wear this time of year. I don't usually take my purse in shopping with me but this need seems to be changing for me.

I want all my chapsticks, glasses cleaner, money, identification, coupons, etc. with me so when we are at a down time situation, I have something to do.

All my current winter bags have short handles. My favorite beaded jeans purse included. I could purchase a purse for my intended purposes but decided to research what was out there for patterns and ease of completeness for my taste.

I found just the ticket last night on line, and after loading the Socks quilt onto to DW and working on my four string quilt blocks, dug into a rather simple looking pattern for said intention.

I quit last night after getting to the zipper part. The pocket inside the messenger bag has a zipper and at about 9pm, thought I had better wait until I was a bit more rested and refreshed to tackle such a "real" sewing step.


Friday, November 21, 2014

Misc.

The three-year long string quilt has been completed! No pics (sticking to my rules) yet but once we locate a backing for it (non available in our current inventory), we'll get a pic up upon completion.

I have now started another string quilt project and this one is a bit more intricate, but uses those pesky strings I have been accumulating with every quilt made.

Mom's quilt is now off the long arm and the binding is fastened on one side. I'm going to hand-bind the rest of it since I know she'll take extra special care of it. Pics to come soon!

Once again, I ventured into the spare bedroom to match up a backing and a top. DW is empty and when Jim returned this morning from PT he mentioned DW looks too naked without anything on him. We choose the Socks quilt top and paired it with a neutral small rose themed backing. The backing is all measured out and I'll start getting this on this morning.

The sun is shining (finally) after four or five days of clouds and snow. It'll be nice to quilt in a sunny room for a change!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Strings

I'm into my string quilts lately. I'm not sure there is a specific reason why I am other then the following:

1) I have more then enough resources to make them.
2) We are on a pretty tight budget since Jim's off of work and Christmas is what, five weeks away.
3) I love the scrappy look of them.
4) It's freeing to not have to follow some color scheme or match points precisely.
5) It's like a form of exercise since I add a piece, run over to the pressing table to press the seam, walk back to the sewing machine, lean over and find the next piece on the floor, straighten up in my chair to sew, and then sew. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

That's where I'm headed for now.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Let it Snow! Let me Sew!

I was able to head to sew-in on Sunday. The kids were still here, but I stole away for about six hours to "play" with my sewing friends. It felt good to get out and see some of the world beyond my four walls, and I actually caught the kids still here before they left, so it was okay.

I worked on my 3-year old string quilt and got the top pieced together. Once I got it home and pressed out all the seams, I decided it needed a border or two. I attached a stark white thin border around the top and then decided I needed to piece a piano key (or some other scrappy) border around that.

I thought about all of this yesterday and decided on a totally different route. The quilt top is fashioned in a diagonal manner rather then a horizontal/vertical block setting. Braiding the second border with even more strings came to mind and I researched how to do it. Yesterday, I completed two of the braids before quitting for the day, and while the results aren't as "wow" as I expected, it seems better then the vertical/horizontal piano keys would have been.

Today I need to long-arm at least for part of the day. Mom's quilt has been on DW long enough and will head in this direction to start.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Irony

It's irony that I complete The First Snow on the first day we get real snow accumulation in Michigan. About a 1/2 inch yesterday and another 1/2 inch over night.

I won't show you a pic of the quilt because I've already posted it about a thousand times already, and quite honestly, the quilting was very minimal because the houses needed to take the center stage.

With the snow comes the feeling of the holidays. I have three parent quilts to finish in six weeks. Thankfully, all the tops are done, so at least the hardest part is completed. Mom's is on the frame now and I still have to locate backings for dads and my MIL quilts.

Jim and I laid out all those string blocks I've been working on for what, two or three years now? It's on the design wall and after a bunch of scenarios, decided on a layout which would compliment the narrow as well as wide strings making up each of the blocks.

This was supposed to be sew-in weekend, and here I am at home. The weather keeps me in and quite honestly, I'm okay with this. I've pretty much geared up for the long winter and not really traveling to many places; I have material, thread, needles, and Pandora to keep me occupied. What could be better?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

And Another

I love long arming! Have I ever said that before? I really do love watching the quilt take shape under the hopping foot and how thread and design can change a nice quilt top into a beautifully finished piece.

This particular quilt didn't lend itself into my I-absolutely-love-this-quilt-how-am-I-going-to-part-with-it category; until I quilted it yesterday. Now I have a new love and want to keep it in the collection of quilts given permanent residency within our home.

Batik Blocks
I quilted it farther apart to give it some snuggle-y qualities. The pattern seemed rather fun and yet the batiks gave it a near serious quality. I wanted to bring out the playfulness and kindness of the quilt. It will make somebody (maybe even us) a nice couch quilt to keep warm on those icky, cold winter nights.

The kids are coming out this weekend (opening weekend of deer season) and this requires me to straighten out the spare bedroom. It's amazing how OCD I am about my studio space, but kind of explode in the third bedroom with quilt tops and backing fabric; and finished quilts.

The First Snow has been loaded onto DW in hopes of getting him done either today, or throughout the weekend between kid visits and sew-in activities, so this is one step in cleaning the spare bedroom adventures.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Erratic!

Kitchen renovations take a LOT of time! Moving back into my kitchen was a pleasant chore for I found I had more storage then previously since space was added this go-around. Even though everything needed to be washed and/or dusted, it didn't take too awful long. But, it cuts into quilting time and for once it is actually okay.

I did manage to get some things completed in here despite my erratic visits.

The Craftsy 2012 BOM UFO top is finally done! Last night, late, I put the last of the three borders on. No pics though since I think I need to get back to my not-until-it's-completed rule. I'm finding I'm repeating a lot of tops/finished quilts here so we'll subscribe to my original rule when I started my blog.

The hanging windows quilt, however, is finished!

Hanging Windows
See all those feathers in the quilting? I actually free-motioned those myself. I still have some work to do with getting those down, but I feel like I'm finally getting a handle on the basic feather at least.

I'm still struggling with the formal feather, but I'm sure with more practice...

Today I'll be quilting the Blocky Batiks and should be able to finish it in a day. It's a nice large couch quilt and we'll have DW do an edge-to-edge design.

I have to figure out what I'm going to do for sew-in this weekend. I would really like to work on my Pepperdish quilt but it's so intense and I don't know if I would rather do something a bit more simple. I've been doing so many complicated pieces lately that simplicity seems the way to go.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Birthdays

My mom turned 70 yesterday. 70! Can you believe how the time goes even faster as we get older?

The weekend was spent loading one quilt onto DW and then "playing" with mom. No hexagons. No piecing. No quilting. But a lot of fun nonetheless and now I can get back into our kitchen and quilt-making groove.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Quilts and Kitchens

Our kitchen renovations are coming along well. I'm itching to get in there and start putting things away, but Jim has a plethora of other little tasks to complete and getting in the way would only lengthen completion. I'll just stay away until I don't hinder construction.

Because I don't want to be that third (or fifth) wheel, I have been here in my little girl-cave sewing away. The trees are complete and actually had enough time to get the main body of the quilt constructed last night.

Here's where I left off.

The First Snow "in rough"
I'm nervous about leaving the trees up for any length of time and feel like I better get those sewn together before I do anything else. There are nine different shapes and sizes of them and I feel like it would be a stress enhancer if I had to sort them all out later should they start peeling away from the design wall.

I have homework to do for my Stitchers Garden class next Wednesday, and there are still plenty of tops to get on DW with backing pieces we purchased for my birthday. It's a cool, gloomy, rainy day today; what could be a better thing to do then spend it in here?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Trees, Trees, Trees.

The First Snow quilt is put together with a variety of houses constructed over a period of weeks and then sashed and bordered with various coniferous trees. 40 something of them in all. So much so it took three weeks of pattern posting to get all of them included.

The last posting occurred during my visit to California. Needless to say, I was able to get the paper-pieced pattern for the trees printed, but it seems the pattern is no longer available for construction. This means I'll have to figure it out from a Google Images pic instead.

I didn't realize how many actual trees there were because despite spending all of yesterday making trees, I'm still not finished. Perhaps today I'll be able to complete said greenery and move along in the project. I'm certainly glad I like to paper piece so well!


Monday, November 3, 2014

I Finally Was Able to Sew Today

After nearly two weeks, I was able to actually plug in my sewing machines and stitch. It was only a little project; the Sugar Block BOM, but still, it was sewing.

We are in the very middle of a kitchen renovation and I knew once I got back into my studio, it would be a chore to get me back out. I had to satiate my vice a bit by at least doing a block. And, Jim is working right in the middle of the kitchen so I was becoming an extra obstacle rather then any type of assistant.

It should be enough to "calm" me for a few more days. My mom says, "I have it bad." Whatever it is, I miss it but am looking forward to cooking again soon. Much of you don't know this, but cooking is nearly as addictive to me as sewing and I couldn't bring myself to do it in the nasty kitchen the house sported until now.