Saturday, December 16, 2017

Exchanging Gifts

I have an actual finished quilt this week!
Okay, it's SMALL, but it's a Feathered Star, so that should count for something, right?  I made this for our local guild's annual gift exchange.  We call it the Brown Bag Challenge.  Each participant puts a fat quarter and a slip of paper with their name on it in a bag (brown or otherwise), and then chooses someone else's bag.  Then you make something with the fat quarter, and give it to the original owner at Christmas.
I got Mary L.'s bag.  Her fabric is the beautiful purple print, in the center and the points.
Long years ago, probably in the late 1980s, I took a class from Marsha McCloskey, the queen of feathered stars, and made a small quilt like this and a few more blocks.  In those days, we used rotary cutting for some of the pieces, but most of them were cut with templates.  I have no patience for templates anymore, so I wanted to find a pattern that was all rotary cut.
Here it is:  FEATHERED STAR TUTORIAL.  It's a PDF, and it's long (about 38 pages), but so worth it!  Molly, the author, takes you through each step with examples and lots of encouragement.  I would definitely recommend it.
Here's the back of the little quilt.  I used some wonderful dragon fabric I've had for years.  The designer's inspiration was an old English children's book called The Reluctant Dragon, which I love.  Some of this fabric made it into my Children's Library Quilt (which is still waiting to be quilted).
Wanna see what I got?
Mary L. had my name!  She made this lovely lap quilt.  Aren't the colors wonderful?
My fabric was this purple stripe.  I had completely forgotten which fat quarter I had put in the bag. (I pretty much do that every year, sadly.)
Check out the quilting!
And this back is absolutely beautiful.  I've been leaning this way for a while, but this clinches it.  Purple is my new favorite color.  Thank you, thank you, Mary L.!
Naturally, with the Christmas season, I've been thinking about gifts for weeks.  Just yesterday we finally finished our shopping for the grandchildren, and a week from tomorrow we'll all get together for food and fun and presents.
But I've also been thinking about other kinds of gifts.  Like the gift I'm getting today when my daughters and their children come to make Christmas cookies.  Or the gift of a Christmas card in the mail (especially the ones with photos!) or a hug from a friend.  The older I get, the more these things matter, and the less I worry about giving the perfect gift from the store.
Love is what matters.  It is, after all, the reason for the season.
Enjoy this week, if you can.  It's a gift!

Linking up as usual with Crazy Mom Quilts and Busy Hands Quilts.  Come and see what everybody is making!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Building Blocks

Welcome to my blog.  Here's my "finish" for this week--30 blocks made with the Disappearing Nine Patch pattern.  I'm calling this quilt Cobblestones.
All the pieces are from my scraps.  The brown floral print in the large brown square above was the color inspiration.  I used browns paired with aqua and green, with dark blue accents and light backgrounds.
The border will be this brown/black plaid fabric in the foreground.
Kind of a pathetic finish, isn't it?  Not even a flimsy!  But this has been sort of a tough week.
Our  17 month old grandson was sick on Wednesday and Thursday with a cold/fever, which meant he wanted to be held just about all the time.  I am happy to do anything I can to make the little sweetheart feel better, including watching Sesame Street what seems like a million times.  Love plus medicine, fluids, and time worked, and he was better on Friday.
Since I usually sew during nap times on weekdays, I definitely got less done.  Not a problem, things will even out.
The blocks above were made per a request from my eldest daughter.  She is putting together a basket for a fundraiser for her kids' school, and asked if I had a quilt to donate.  She knows me well, I'm always working on donation quilts, but there was nothing finished that would fit the theme of Cozy Home and work for adults.  This disappearing ninepatch project was already in the works, so I just cut up some more scraps and got the blocks done.  I'm hoping to finish the top this weekend.  The fundraiser isn't til February, so I'll have time to get the quilting done.
While I was sewing blocks, I finished sewing the white strips on my 1930s flowers.  These were fun to make, and I'll be doing a tutorial on them after Christmas.  No flipping flippy corners!
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!  This is the view from my sewing room window this morning.  Just a dusting of snow, no big deal for Wisconsin.

Inside, it's warm and cozy, and decorated.  My Red Clover quilt hangs on the back of my favorite rocking chair next to the tree.  Red and green is so wonderfully classic.
I had to take this photo before all of this is gone!  I made Cashew Brittle Friday morning, and it's so good I have to share the recipe.  It's very simple, with simple ingredients--1 cup regular sugar, 1 cup (two sticks) butter, 1 Tablespoon corn syrup (I used Lyle's Golden Syrup) and 1 cup cashews.  Click HERE to go to the recipe at Genius Kitchen.  It makes a lot more than I expected.  This container was so full I could barely get the lid on, plus there was even more that wouldn't fit (I took care of that problem!)  My husband suggested a small improvement, which I'm going to try next time I make it.  He thinks separating the cashews into halves would be better, instead of using them whole.  His way will have all the cashew bits surrounded by sweet stuff.  Genius.
Have a wonderful week, whatever you are making.
Link ups as usual with Busy Hands Quilts and Crazy Mom Quilts.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Christmas Quilting with Our Little Schnickelfritz

Here's our little buddy, posing with my finished Star Struck variation quilt.  We sometimes call him Schnickelfritz, which around here means a kind of imp or elf.  He's got the impish part down pat.  Yesterday he hid one of his socks in a kitchen drawer.  The day before he took all Grandpa's books off the shelf while I was fixing his lunch.  Life is never dull around here.
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  I was still too tired the day after to write the blog, but the weekend gave me time to finish quilting the sections of this quilt, sew them together, and quilt the border.
It's all about holly leaves!  I didn't realize until I was quilting it that both the sashing and border are holly leaf prints.  I bought the sashing from the sale section at J. J. Stitches in October, and the border has been in my stash a very long time.
The binding was actually in my stash, in the bottom of a bin in the basement.  I could not believe it when I came across it while cleaning out the bin.  The color was just what I wanted.
Here's the back, a poinsettia print on white. 
So that's one of the Christmas scrap quilts done!
In other news, I finished this rail fence flimsy.
The pieces are all scrap, and both the borders came from the Christmas stash.
The star is made of 2.5 in. strips cut into squares and triangles. 

This must be a child's quilt.  The red border is a toy print, and check out the green border:
Santa and choo choo trains!  I think I picked this fabric up at a flea market.  On the selvedge it said copyright 1992.
Maybe I should quilt this one for my little Schnickelfritz?
Happy first of December, and happy quilting!
Linking up as usual with Crazy Mom Quilts and Busy Hands Quilts.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Thanks for Sharing

Today's finish has been a long time coming.  Hurray, it's a UFO no longer!

The blocks were made by members of my guild.  They were my birthday blocks in 2003.
We had a program you could sign up for at the beginning of the year.  During the year, we made blocks each month for members who had a birthday that month.  The member decided on the pattern and colors.
Since my birthday is in December, and I asked for green blocks, I got several Christmas fabrics mixed in the Buckeye Beauties.  I always thought I'd make more blocks and make a Christmas quilt, but somehow it never happened.
Until now!  I put the top together at our retreat last month, and quilted it last weekend.
It is just 16 blocks, set together with a red Christmas print border.  I'm so glad most people signed and dated their blocks.
The quilting is simple, just radiating diagonal lines, plus some machine serpentine stitch in the border.
The binding is not really a Christmas print, but the colors are okay.
Here's the back, which to me looks like old timey wallpaper.  I absolutely love this kind of fabric.
At last, a real finish.
In other news, I'm making progress with some of the blocks I finished at the retreat.
The Star Struck stars are set together.  You probably can't tell from this photo, but this top is in two pieces, one with 3 rows and one with 4 rows.  That's because I'm quilting it that way.
I'm well along on the larger section.
Don't you just love running your hands over the finished part of a quilt?
I had an unexpected free day today (my little guy is home with his daddy, so no babysitting), so I finished the blocks for the rail fence quilt on the treadle this morning.
When I was working on this at the retreat I thought I had a panel at home that would go with the blocks.  It turns out the panel I had is mostly blue, so I made this star block instead.
Our wonderful weekend retreat is the gift that just keeps on giving.

The retreat I went on with guild members was three weeks ago now, and last Wednesday night was our first guild meeting since both groups got back.  One of our members spoke about how great it was for her to be with other quilters, and I thought about how much we share when we get together.
Sure, we share irons and cutting mats and space, but we also share encouragement, expertise, ideas, excitement, stories, and laughter.  Not to mention food!
So thanks, quilters, for sharing, at retreats and shows and online and everywhere else.  Positive energy is contagious, and excitement is good for us!
Link ups as usual with Busy Hands Quilts and Crazy Mom Quilts.

Friday, November 10, 2017

All Wrapped Up

Look who's getting wrapped up in my work!  My little buddy is helping me show my "finish" for this week, the first of four Christmas quilts.  It's only a flimsy so far.
Here it is on the bed, complete with baby model.
I started this quilt just before the Ties that Bind retreat two weeks ago, and made the rest of the blocks at the retreat.  I set the blocks together and added borders during my grandson's naps this week.
Now for a closeup.  The pattern is Sticks and Stones, by Bonnie Hunter, available HERE for free.  I made a total of 56 blocks, half with red squares, the other half with green.  My version is slightly bigger than Bonnie's.
I'll take better pictures when it's quilted.
This is the box of cut pieces I took to the retreat.  Three future quilts are hiding in here.

This was my station at the retreat.  I used the Jones hand crank to make the 4 pointed star blocks.  I got all 42 done at the retreat, and am working on setting them together.
I'm excited to have at least this much done, especially since things have really changed in my life.  My daughter got a full time job, so now I have a full time babysitting gig with a 17 month old.  Going from part time to full time is a challenge, but very much worth it.  We're finding new fun things to do, like taking pictures of grandma's quilt and rearranging the blocks in the star quilt.  He has an absolutely maniacal laugh, and I can't help laughing too, even when he's taking off down the hall with a row of quilt blocks.
Guess what else happened--I WON a lovely stack of fat quarters from Brooke at Silly Mama Quilts!  The Fed Ex man brought them just as I was packing up the car for the retreat.  Here they are, laid out by my featherweight.
Now what am I going to make out of these lovelies?
Can't wait to find out.
Have a fun filled week.
I'm linking up as usual with Crazy Mom Quilts and Busy Hands Quilts.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Some Assembly Required

Thank goodness, I finally finished canning the bushel of pears I bought at the orchard!  I saved out about a dozen for eating, and put up halves and slices to have all winter.
With that "homework" out of the way, I can work on getting ready to go on a quilting retreat next weekend.
Believe it or not, there are 3 quilts in this box.  Some assembly required, of course.
A couple of weeks ago I started taming down my wild Christmas scraps, which looked like this:
I also cut into what Christmas yardage I had.
Here's what I'm going to make:
1.  Sticks and Stones quilt
This is a free pattern, designed by Bonnie Hunter but not on her web page.  You can find it HERE.  It takes 5 in. squares, 1.5 x 5 in. rectangles, and 1.5 in. squares for the center.  I'm making red blocks and green blocks.  They are 10 in. square finished.
2.  Four pointed Christmas stars
I'm adapting a Bonnie Hunter pattern here.  Yes, Bonnie again, but for scrappy quilts you can't go wrong with Bonnie Hunter.  This one is Star Struck, and you can get the free pattern HERE.  I changed it slightly, leaving out the triangles on the background rectangles.  Again, I'll be making half the blocks red and the other half green.  All the pieces are cut from 2.5 in. strips.

3.  Classic triple rail fence
I've only got 3 blocks done so far, but there are just dozens of pieces this size.  The rectangles are cut 2 in. x 5 in., so they'll finish as 4.5 in. squares.  I'm going to make all of them with one green strip, one red strip, and one light strip in the center.  Turned the right way, they look a little like the Italian flag.
But wait, there's more!
It is so hard for me to cut out quilts and delay sewing them!  Setting these aside for the retreat has been like torture.  I finally broke down and started yet ANOTHER Christmas quilt, using the triangles left over from the Four Pointed Christmas stars.
They're cute, they're scrappy, and they're making me happy!  There were a lot of 2.5 in. squares in that pile of scrap, which make great 4 patch centers for the stars.  All the triangles I've used so far came from the Four Pointed Christmas stars.  I cut the larger triangles with the Companion Angle ruler from 2.5 in. strips.  The corner squares are also cut from those strips, or from 5 in. squares I have on hand.
So, not a lot finished this week, aside from the pears.
But a whole lot started!
Also, this:
He's a very willing worker, but Grandpa and I have to remind him not to eat the leaves.
I hope your week is filled with love and laughter.
Link ups today:
Busy Hands Quilts
Crazy Mom Quilts

Friday, October 13, 2017

Apples, Cats, and Quilts

Here's one of the best things about fall--apples!  We got a bushel of Macintosh apples from the orchard yesterday.  I take my husband along to do the heavy lifting, and I usually pick out what are called "seconds" to save money.  Seconds are still good, but not perfect, so they are cheaper.  Since I fall into that category myself, I don't mind "not perfect" at all.
I peeled and sliced a batch of them, and canned some quarts for pies and crisps this winter.
The cores are stuffed into this old crock to make vinegar.  For this particular crock, I add 2 quarts of water and half a cup of sugar.  The ratio is one quarter cup sugar to each quart of water.  You want the water to cover the cores.
Then you put a piece of cheesecloth over the top and secure it with a rubber band.  It will sit on the shelf in my kitchen cupboard for a few weeks, until it smells like vinegar.  Then I'll strain it and put it in glass bottles.  The  resulting apple vinegar is good in baking, and my oldest daughter takes it to ward off a cold.
I still have to make applesauce (on the stove now as I type) and do another small batch of pie apples.  The house smells great.
This week's finishes are lap quilts.
Imagine you are an elderly person.  (If you're lucky, you'll get to be one someday.)  Now imagine it's winter, your knees are cold, and you'd like to cover up with a quilt but it's a problem with your wheelchair.  You would need a lap robe.
That's what I made this week.
The first one is flannel, top and back.  I got the pieces for the top a few weeks ago at a flea market.  There was a nice big stack of flannel rectangles, cut 2.5 in. x 3.5 in., in a bag of scraps I bought for $2.  I made 4 patches out of them, and added the light colored fabric from my stash, plus a few flannel rectangles to make 30 blocks.  Flannel borders top and bottom made the quilt square and just about the right size.
The nursing home we give these to asked for quilts about a yard square.  You can see from the yardstick I fell a little short with this one.  Not perfect.  I think it will be okay anyway.
The back is more of that cozy plaid flannel.
Here's the second quilt, made of regular cotton on the front and flannel on the back. 
The cat fabric was donated to our quilt group.  There were yards and yards of different prints.  Our leaders divided it up into half yard pieces, and handed them out as a challenge, to make a quilt for charity.  I cut all these cats out of the half yard Colleen gave me, and framed them with 2.5 in. strips from the scrap bins and baskets.
Success!  This one is a yard square!  I hope the recipient likes cats, because ...
the back is a flannel cat print from my stash.  There's no way to get away from cats with this quilt.
I'm linking up with Busy Hands Quilts, Crazy Mom Quilts, and Can I Get A Whoop Whoop this week.  It is so inspiring seeing what other people are making.
Well, back to the applesauce.  Happy fall!