Friday, December 14, 2018

Tis the Season

I must confess, this used to be me.  I was a Grinch at Christmas.  Mainly, this was because I was a working mom with a job I obsessed over (school librarian, K-8, at two schools), living with a family that still wasn't used to me being back at work and not home all the time.
My life was already maxed out.  Christmas just made everything ten times worse.  Every one of my three kids needed a present and/or cookies for everything they belonged to--scouts, sports, clubs, etc., and nobody seemed to be able to tell me these things until the night before they were due.  And then there was the decorating, the shopping, the wrapping, Christmas cards, and all the crazy pressure to make the holidays "perfect".
Well, I'm not perfect.  I cracked.  I complained.  I even said I hated Christmas.  Definitely a grinch.  Maybe my heart shrunk, I don't know.
Eventually,  I learned to slow it down a little, and to skip some things and delegate others.  My kids grew up, and instead of everybody stressing out and spending a fortune, we decided to draw names among the adults and limit the amount of money spent on the present (we're up to $25 as of this year).  Our focus is on spending time celebrating together.  Oh, and eating.  Lots of eating. 
Things are better, and I'm enjoying the holidays again.  I now think of Christmastime as a season, not just one day, and we do little fun things as we go along from Thanksgiving to New Years Day.
This week, we finally put up the tree.  Little Buddy loved helping.  (A few ornaments may have been slightly harmed in the process, but we're okay with that.)  The first thing he does when he gets here in the morning is flip the switch to turn on the tree lights, even if it's bright and sunny outside.
Can you guess what this is?
It's a tea wallet!  I made it as one of several little gifts for my Mom (I drew her name this year), and put in some of her favorite decaf teas.  I got the free tutorial online from Fanny Lu Designs HERE.  It was very fast and easy.  Now I need to make one for me!
On Monday, I decided my apple core vinegar was ready.  It has been smelling very vinegar-y for several weeks, tucked away in a dark cupboard.
I got these three bottles of vinegar from it.  They will be useful in cooking and baking this winter, and they cost practically nothing, being made from apple cores, water, and a little sugar to get the fermentation started.
Good news!  I finished the Christmas quilt this afternoon, after Little Buddy went home.  It feels so good to have this one done before Christmas this year, since the top was left over from last year.
It's a big quilt, 83 in. x 93 in., which is just gigantic for me.  I did the quilting with Mrs. Pfaff, she of the built in walking foot, and made all the markings with soap slivers.
On the left you can see the backing, a wide back I ordered from Connecting Threads last year. I quilted a gentle cable in the outer border, an easy one I've done several times.  The binding is completely by machine, which is now my go-to method.
Everything isn't done yet for our holiday celebrations, but we're making progress.
Better still, we're enjoying the journey.
I'm wishing you the joy of the season (and none of the stress!)
Linking up with:
Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Angela at Soscrappy

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Quilting Christmas

Welcome to my blog!  
I hope your week has been fun, with not too much holiday stress.

As you can see above, Mrs. Pfaff and I are hard at work this week, quilting a top I finished last year.
This is last year's picture.  My Little Buddy rolled up in the top, and I ran to get the camera.  Do you think he knows he's cute?  He's a whole year older now, but just as much fun.
The top is a Bonnie Hunter pattern called Sticks and Stones.  It's not on her web page, but you can click HERE to get the free PDF.
I'm not doing Bonnie's mystery quilt this year, but I thought I'd finish this quilt inspired by her work.
The colors are off, here.  The photo with Little Buddy has more true colors, the standard Christmas red and green.
I'm ready to quilt the borders now, so there's a good chance I'll finish this one before New Year's Day.
Meanwhile, I've been slowly finishing the decorating.  Can you see the difference between these two brass candlesticks?  The one on the right has been polished, and the one on the left is waiting its turn.
 My grandmother gave me these candlesticks for my 25th birthday, and they are always displayed on our mantel.
Polishing them is the kind of thing our butler should be doing.  If we had a butler.  (Where is Carson when you need him?)  Oh, well, a butler would find it very boring around here--no footmen to supervise, no need to announce Lord and Lady whatnot, and only polishing the brass once a year.
Here's where the candlesticks ended up, clean once more with new candles.
I've been treating myself to new books--for free!  I requested these from our library last week.  When Little Buddy is playing after story hour, I'm looking up books on my phone.  If our library doesn't have them, they can get them from other libraries in the system.  When they come in, I get a call.  As long as I return them on time, it doesn't cost a cent.  Libraries are one of the best uses of tax money that I know of.  (This message brought to you by a retired school librarian.)
Speaking of free stuff, this is my "shopping" for today.  I shopped my basement stash for fabrics and notions for some Christmas gifts I'm making, and for the Antebellum Album quilt blocks.  I tend to forget what great stuff I have stored.  But it is definitely getting messy down there.  I will have to spend some time sorting this winter.
Does anybody recognize this fabric?  Is it a panel?  I'm sure I got it second hand somewhere, no idea where or when.  I think I'd like to make a small quilt with it, using some blue Christmas fabric I've had for a while and don't know what to do with.
This is the Antebellum Album block #11, Ever Widening Circle, from Barbara Brackman's Block of the Month for this year.  (Click HERE to go to this block pattern.)  It's a variation of a Square in a Square.  My version has an inked circle in the center, and says "May the circle be unbroken".
I am of course recalling the song.
In my head, I hear the Staple Singers voices singing Will the Circle Be Unbroken (click HERE to hear it on Youtube).
I'm wishing happy times for you this week--good memories, new traditions, and lots of quilting fun.
Cheers for reading,
Linking up with:
Amanda Jean at Crazy Mom Quilts (for the last time?  She's signing off!  She will definitely be missed!)
Angela at Soscrappy
Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Myra at Busy Hands Quilts
(OMG!  My quilt from last week was one of the featured quilts on the Busy Hands blog!!!)

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Scraps of Fabric and Time

It's December!  I can hardly believe it, the time passes so quickly.  Little Buddy and I put up most of the Christmas decorations this week.  I'm saving the tree for next week.  We're spreading the joy of the season all through the month.
Here's what I've been working on.  The top for this quilt was finished back in February.  (Click HERE to go to the post about piecing it.)
It's quilted at last!  And shown here on my queen sized bed.  The quilt finished at 72 in. x 81 in.
As you can see, I did very simple quilting.  Mrs. Pfaff and I quilted in the ditch to stabilize everything, and then we quilted the ditches of the nine patches and just continued the lines across the unpieced squares.  I marked the lines with soap.
It was easy to include the pieced border in the grid lines going across the quilt.  When I finished the grid, there was only the outer unpieced border left to quilt.
I sort of copped out, and used a swag stencil I've gone with a lot.  It's easy to mark and easy to quilt.  Plus I actually like it.
Here's the back, a lovely repro fabric I bought on sale a long time ago.  I love turning over a quilt to find a pretty backing.
Did you notice the binding?  It's the same fabric I was thinking about using for a border on my Wagon Trail quilt.  It's really dangerous to leave a fabric laying around in the sewing room.  It can get snatched up and used for something completely different.  Will I have enough left for the border I was planning?  I don't know yet.  I might have to go to Plan B.

This week, we had a sad event in our family.  Little Buddy's great-grandmother, Grandma Betty, passed away.  She was 90 years old, and had led a full life, but she will be sorely missed.
Grandma Betty was my son-in-law's grandmother.  My son-in-law (E.) told me this story.
When E was born, Grandma Betty made him a quilt.  He kept it all his life, and had it with him when he was living on his own.  His puppy chewed up the edge of it several years ago, which really upset E.  Last summer, E asked Grandma Betty if she could mend it.  At first she told him to just throw it away, but he refused.  Together, they cut off the damaged edge, and Grandma Betty mended the quilt.  Both of them were very glad they had preserved it, and E has this very special memento of his grandmother.
We just never know how important the gift of a quilt might be to someone.  It's a lovely way to be remembered.

I'm wishing happy memories, new and old, for you all this week.

Linking up with
Sarah at Can I Get A Whoop Whoop
Myra at Busy Hands Quilts
Angela at Soscrappy
Cynthia at Oh Scrap

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Playing Catch Up

It's the end of Thanksgiving weekend around here.  We had a good time with all of our kids, their spouses, and our grand kids.  My little buddy learned this "trick" from Grandpa, and now he thinks the cornucopia basket is a hat.  As you can see, it makes him very happy.  As he says, "Silly Grandpa."
I did finish a project, but I can't show it to you yet.  Ssh, it's a Christmas secret.  I've got the binding to do yet, and that's going to be whipped down by hand.

I'm playing catch up on a Block of the Month.  Until yesterday, I had only six blocks done for Barbara Brackman's Antebellum Album, but had gotten stuck.  We get block #11 this Wednesday, so I got out the bucket of red and green scraps and made these four.

Only two of these are the official blocks.  The hourglass and the flower are blocks I added to replace a couple I was having trouble with (which is why I was stuck).  Block #3 just would not print out right no matter what I did (I'm sure this is my fault, not Ms. Brackman's), and I really didn't like Block #10.  So I looked through the wonderful pictures of antique quilts Ms. Brackman puts on her blog, and chose these blocks from the photos.
Here are all ten of the blocks laid out on the kitchen table.  I'm not sure how I'm going to set them together.  I do know that I DON'T want a square quilt.
If I need more blocks, no worries.  I've got LOTS more scraps.
Civil War Quilts:  Antebellum Album
Above is the link to the instructions for Block #10.  From there you can get to all the posts.
It's good weather for knitting.  We're supposed to get a snow storm this afternoon/tonight.  I've got beans cooking for soup, oatmeal cookies baked, and I'm finishing my blue wool sweater that I started last winter.  I can't seem to knit in the summer, but as soon as we get a frost I want my needles in my hands.
This is the last skein of this blue yarn.  Luckily, I'm most of the way through the second sleeve, and only have the neckband to do after that.

I hope you stay warm and cozy this week, wherever you are.
Cheers for reading,

Linking up with:
Cynthia at Oh Scrap
Sarah at Can I Get A Whoop Whoop
Angela at Soscrappy

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Harvest Home

Hello, and welcome!  Are you ready for Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  The meaning is right in the name--giving thanks, which I know I should do more often.  The family will gather at our house for a big meal and lots of love and laughter.
I'm trying to get food planned so I can make some dishes ahead of time.  Refrigerator space is always a problem, but I think we're going to put some things, like the pumpkin pies, in the trunk of my car Wednesday night.  (It's good and cold in the garage, but above freezing, and I'm not going anywhere then.  I'll let you know how that turns out!)
Meanwhile, I'm still working on the wagon trail quilt, one of my Rainbow Scrap Challenge quilts.  I'm auditioning this border, which strobes on the screen but not in real life.
I've also decided that I need another row of blocks.  It was going to be square, which is wide enough but too short for the bed.
So back to making blocks, and using up more scraps!
These are my leaders and enders--rail fence blocks.  I think I'm going to set them like this, on point.

As I give thanks for all the blessings of my life, I'm also mindful of the people devastated by the fires in California.  Right now I'm sending money to help, but maybe later there will be a need for quilts as families rebuild their lives.  My donation is going to the California Community Foundation's Wildfire Relief Fund, but there are many other places to send money, including the American Red Cross.

Today I will close with one of my favorite hymns.  Have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Come Ye Thankful People, Come
written by Henry Alford in 1844

Come ye thankful people come,
Raise the song of Harvest Home
All is safely gathered in
Ere the winter storms begin
God our Maker doth provide
For our wants to be supplied
Come to God's own temple, come
Raise the song of Harvest Home.
Linking up today with:
Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict (Can I Get A Whoop Whoop) 
Myra at Busy Hands Quilts
Angela at Soscrappy
Cynthia at Oh Scrap

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Loose Ends and Layouts

Welcome to my blog.  I hope you are having a lovely weekend.   I know I am--I'm sewing!

All my blocks are done for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, so I'm starting to put them together into tops.  This is rows 1-3 of the Mary Ann's Baskets quilt, made from reproduction fabric scraps.  Surprise, I'm not following the layout in the book exactly.  I want a rectangular rather than a square quilt.  (The book is Classic & Heirloom Quilts, by Betsy Chutchian).
Even though I've been quilting for over 40 years, I haven't made very many diagonal sets, at least not recently.  So I'm having to lay it all out and work on it carefully so as not to mess it up.

I'm not sure why I decided to make three Rainbow Scrap quilts this year.  Maybe I just couldn't make up my mind?? (That would not be unusual.)  So I'm also working on this top.
The pattern for this quilt is in the same book.  Ms. Chutchian calls her quilt White Rock Creek, but another book calls these blocks Wagon Trail. They're also made from repro scraps, that I've been sewing all year.  I did add in some brown and black scraps (colors not on the Rainbow Scrap Challenge list this year), which would be appropriate to this time period.
Surprise again, I'm doing a slightly different set.  I'm setting it together in two sections.  Then I'll add borders (not sure what color yet), and quilt each section.  I want to quilt something pretty in the open spaces, and that will be easier if the quilt is in two pieces.

So these quilt tops have been on my to-do list for a while, and I'm glad to be at least starting to get them together.
I couldn't help it, I started these blocks last week, and just kept going until I had enough for a child's quilt.  The block is called King's Crown, and the centers are crumb blocks made from the snippets in my scrap basket.  There might be a bit too much red and blue in it, but you work with what you have.  No hurry on this one, it will be a charity quilt sometime in the new year.

I did actually finish a little wall quilt this week, but it was more than half done last week.  Now it's been bound, washed, and hung on the wall, ready for Thanksgiving.

Did it snow where you live this week?  We got a little dusting here Thursday night and Friday morning.  Little Buddy and I made this:
It's his first snowman!  He was so excited about it, even though it's not even as tall as he is.  He couldn't wait to show it to his big brother and mom.

Do we have lots of fun around here?  You betcha!

I hope you had fun this week, too.

Cheers for reading,

Linking up this week with:
Angela at soscrappy
Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict (Can I Get A Whoop Whoop)
Myra at Busy Hands Quilts
Cynthia at Quilting is More Fun Than Housework (Oh Scrap)

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Marking Time

Seasons and holidays are ways we mark the passing of time.  I can't seem to work ahead on seasonal projects, but I always want to sew or quilt fall quilts in fall, Christmas quilts in December, spring quilts in the springtime.
This week I'm finishing a wall hanging for the dining room that will be up for Thanksgiving (only a few weeks away!)  Trying to decide on a border quilting design has been tough.  I think this one will be it.  I've decided NOT to make the design turn the corner, but just to run off the edges.  It's breaking the "rules" but that's okay.  Hey, it's my quilt, right?
I got the pumpkin pattern from this book, Start with Strips by Susan Ache.  It's a terrific book, just full of great ideas.
Her pumpkins have squares in the corners, but I left those out.  I added the leaves on the pumpkin, but thinking about it later I kind of wish I'd left them off too.  Pumpkin leaves are actually big and floppy.  It's still cute, and a good pattern.

My wall hanging would probably be done if I could stop working on other things.  But as I was finishing the piecing, I started sewing little scraps together as leaders and enders, and they turned into this. . .
The centers are 6 in. (finished) crumb/slab squares.  I was going to make star blocks, but saw this block in Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns and liked it better.  It's called King's Crown, and is #2039.  The pieces are the same as a simple star block, but switched around, and the color placement is different.

Only two of these blocks are sewn, but I got ten more cut out yesterday morning while listening to Wait Wait Don't Tell Me on the radio.  I can't always hear the jokes when I'm sewing, but ironing fabric and cutting pieces are quiet enough so I can laugh along.
I hope you all had a Happy Halloween.  We did!  This is my grandson in his Yoda costume, ready to go to the library for the Halloween activities.
Here's what he liked the best--raking leaves!  He's very good at it, too. 

We need to get him out in the yard with us.  Just as soon as it stops raining.

I'm wishing blue skies for us all this week.
Cheers for reading,

Linking up with:
Cynthia at Oh Scrap
Angela at soscrappy
Amanda Jean at crazy mom quilts
Myra at Busy Hands Quilts