Saturday, December 30, 2017

New Years Resolutions, More or Less

Oh Rainbow Scrap Challenge, I love you!  Here are my Buckeye Beauty blocks, laid out on the floor and ready to be set together.  This will be one of the quilts I hope to finish in the new year.
I organized the blocks into groups of 4, except for the last row.  There are 72 blocks, 8 across and 9 down.
1930s fabrics and feedsacks worked well together.  I have a couple of matching print feedsacks for the eventual border.
So that's one of the quilts.  Here's the other:
The house blocks are waiting patiently for inspiration.  I want this to be a fantastic neighborhood, and I don't know exactly what I'm going to do yet.
Streets?  Grass?  Trees? What would you do?
 Happy New Year to everyone!  With 2018 fast approaching, it's a good time to reflect on 2017, and think about what we want from our lives and our quilting next year.  I do this every year--well, more or less.
Frankly, my New Years resolutions are usually not worth the paper they're written on.  For instance, I might decide to try to become slender and gorgeous next year by not eating any chocolate cake.  But the minute I make that a resolution, all I can think about is chocolate cake.  That resolution wouldn't last out the week.
Instead, I set goals, and use the terms "more" or "less".  In this case, my goal will be to eat more fruits, more vegetables, and more whole grains, and less cake.  I have a shot of making this actually happen.  Similarly, I can aim for more exercise and less television watching, and more time with family, less time cruising the internet.
This last year I finished 35 quilts.  That counts everything, from doll size to large size.  Of the 35, 19 were baby quilts, mostly for charity.  I quilted 33 of the total 35 myself, and a friend quilted the other two, both twin sized quilts.
So I don't really expect to make MORE quilts in 2018, especially since I have less time.  What I need is more BALANCE between piecing and quilting.

Here's my list of "more" for 2018.
More quilting of larger quilts
More scraps cut and organized
More quilt shows attended
More fun with other quilters

And on the "less" list:
Less fabric I can't think of a use for (I'm gonna donate it!)
Less worrying about UFOs
Less making things just because other people are making them

On the whole, I guess you can tell I'm very happy with my quilting.  This is such a rewarding hobby, and I have met so many nice people through quilts, in person and online.
People like you!  Thanks for reading this.
Happy New Year!
Linking up with Busy Hands Quilts and Crazy Mom Quilts.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Piece and Joy to All

It's almost Christmas Eve!  Merry Christmas to those who celebrate, and joy to everyone. 
As you can see above, I'm not finished quilting the Christmas scrap quilts I started this year.  No worries, there are only 368 more days til NEXT Christmas, and I'm sure at least this one will be done by then.
Here is my scrappy Christmas stars quilt laid out on the floor, before layering and quilting.  This quilt is another two-parter.  I'm currently quilting the center section.  When I've got that done, I'll add the borders with their backing and batting and quilt them.  Please pardon the dark photo, I just can't take pictures on these dark evenings.
The cobblestones top aka disappearing nine patch is done.  I'm actually going to have to buy a back for it.  With all the fabric I have here you'd think I could find something acceptable, but no.  It will be used in a fundraiser basket at my grandkids' school, so I want it to look really nice.  This will mean a trip to the store after Christmas.  (Hurray!  They might have other stuff I "need"!)
It is definitely easier for me to piece than quilt during my grandson's naps.  The electric Pfaff is noisier than the treadle, and I'm right down the hall from his room.  So I'm usually looking for something to piece in the afternoons.  That's where this box comes in handy.  This is my kit box.  In here are kits I have cut during the year for donation quilts.
I pieced this baby quilt top this week from a kit made from the large Accuquilt tumblers.  I laid it out on my design floor on Wednesday (in spite of the help of Mr. Biddy the cat), and pieced it together on Thursday.  I'll get it quilted next, after the scrappy Christmas stars.
I can't believe all the cute flannel prints there are in the stores.  Most of these have been in my stash for literally years.  It's nice to move them along in a warm quilt for a child.
This is the season for sewing with flannel, at least here in Wisconsin.  There are 4 more flannel baby quilts cut out and ready to sew in the kit box.  I might get a couple more of them done before spring.

In other years, I have enjoyed making Bonnie Hunter's annual mystery quilt during the holidays, but I haven't really found the time this year.  This year's mystery quilt is called On Ringo Lake, and you can find all the parts HERE.  Reading her posts has made me remember that I although I have started several, I have NEVER finished one of these mystery quilts. 
Thinking of this made me dig out my Celtic Solstice quilt pieces from the bottom of the closet, and finally sew these indigo blue borders on.
Bonnie's designs are always amazing, but sometimes they're just a little too complicated for me.  I calmed this one down by leaving out the yellow and green chevrons which I just couldn't make come out right no matter what I did.  (The directions were fine.  My sewing was NOT.)  I added a row of blocks at the top and the bottom to make it longer and simplified the border.

And I love it!  It's also in two sections, ready for my kind of quilting.  I have no idea when that will happen.
This week I'm wishing you the joy of the season, and the joy of making quilts.
Feliz Navidad!
Usual link ups at Crazy Mom Quilts and Busy Hands Quilts.

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.