Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Catching up with myself .. or trying to!

Good grief, where has August gone?! Seems like summer has barely started and here we are knee deep in ripe tomatoes and green beans whining to be processed every day. Actually, except for the fact that they take away from my precious quilting moments, I love the harvest season and putting up all manner of goodies for the long, cold winter months. So for now, we have put up 8 or 9 jars of mango chutney, about 30 quarts of blueberries from our 6 bushes(!) are in the freezer, a lesser amount of green beans so far, and I'm about to attack the tomato challenge tomorrow. The peppers are finally beginning to perform, and hopefully by next week we will have enough along with the tomatoes to make up a winter's supply of salsa. There's also a luscious sounding tomato jam recipe I'm hankering to make, thanks to some rave reviews by my Oregon quilting buddy Barbara at Cat Patches who posted a link to the recipe she found here.

We've also had lots of overnight guests and kids and grandkids around this summer, plus a wedding in Canada earlier this month, and it's been a good time all around, with the exception of an emergency room visit a couple weeks ago and a couple follow-up appointments now scheduled for the near future. Nothing too serious, thankfully, but it will be good when the offending kidney stone is safely removed and hubby is out of pain and back to his usual cheerful self.

A tiny bit of quilting has even been accomplished in the midst of all the chaos!

I seem to be awash in a flurry of baby quilts these days. First off, our little quilting ministry group has been working on four baby quilts for the newest tiny members of our congregation and one missionary baby recently born in Guatemala. This is the quilt I've been working on, and with only about 5 minutes more stitching the label will be attached and it can be placed in the 'finished' pile. This quilt started with a cut-apart soft book that one of our members began to turn into quilt blocks nearly 13 years ago and then set aside. I offered to take on this project and finish it up, adding borders and machine quilting it with ditch quilting along the blocks and border strips, and some fairly sparse free motion quilting to outline the figures in the blocks. I had planned to take the quilt outside and hang it on the garage door in the morning for some outside photos, but rain is in tomorrow's forecast so tonight it's pinned to the design wall for this make-do shot of the overall quilt.
Quilting should always be fun, don't you think? So just for fun and to keep from being bored to tears while quilting this, I added free motion carrots and onions in the background fabric alongside the book blocks. A little hard to see in the photos, but these were quick and easy to free motion, and I think add a bit of interest to the plain linear design of the top, while adding some nice texture.

It's not densely quilted so it is nice and soft after an initial washing, and hopefully the little guy who receives it will love to drag it around with him for a few years.

Grandbaby number 8 is on the way for us, and my daughter spent a few days visiting earlier this month, taking care of our aging dog while we attended the wedding in Canada. Though she had chosen fabrics for a baby quilt that I had already begun from this recent collection I won a couple months back ...
she also fell in love with a sweet focus fabric a quilty friend had recently given me, and we went through my stash to pick some coordinating fabrics for a second baby quilt!
Since the little guy's nursery will have a woodland theme, I'm betting the second quilt will receive the most use!  She chose a fairly simple whirling square block pattern from a recent Quilters Newsletter "Best Kids Quilts" publication for this quilt and I think there is just enough of the focus fabric for the four wide border panels. The challenge for me will be making her chosen coordinating fabrics play nicely in the pattern - not an easy task for this artistically challenged and spatially dyslexic quilter!

So, that's my August, and needless to say I'm looking forward to the cooler and hopefully slower days of fall and some more time to quilt! Whoever said retirement would be boring anyway?!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Westering Women - Block 7 - July

This month's block is named Courthouse Rock, for the outcropping of the same name in western Nebraska. It is the familiar Log Cabin variation more commonly known as Courthouse Steps. At a distance, my version tends to appear more like a square-in-a-square with the alternating light and dark fabrics.

I was happy for this easy-to-piece block this month. Choosing the fabrics took longer than stitching the block!

We should be entering the mountain states next month. Looking forward to seeing what block Barbara chooses to feature next.  More information on the Westering Women BOM is available on Barbara Brackman's Civil War Quilts blog.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Quilty 365 July Circles

After an abysmal June, I'm happy to report that my Quilty 365 Quiltalong circles are back on track and I'm caught up again!  July 31 marked day 266 in this adventure.

An extended power outage several days ago presented an opportunity to cut circles - lots of circles - and I now have enough background squares and circles to take me through the first week of October. At this point I'm pulling random bins of fabric from the stash closet and cutting a circle out of a corner of everything in the bin.  Sometimes two or three circles from the same fabric if there are multiple design elements that can be featured. I figure with an abundance of circles cut ahead of time I can rummage through the pile each day and find one that calls out to be stitched.

Still mulling over a final layout for the eventual quilt, but right now I'm thinking of windowing each square with a narrow contrasting band and setting them on-point.  Working on the math for this option and I'm thinking the on-point setting will increase the quilt size so much that we will end up with one huge king-size quilt plus some leftover circles for a smaller item or two - perhaps matching table/bureau runners or a second lap size quilt.  Decisions!

My last post mentioned the heat and drought we have had this summer.  Later that very day a line of thunderstorms rolled through our area, leaving us a much-needed 1.75 inches of rain!  We are feeling blessed, the garden is looking reinvigorated, and the remaining blueberry crop is ripening quickly. Life is good!

Linking up with Audrey at Quilty Folk where you can see everyone's progress with this fun year-long circling quiltalong.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Rainbow Rose QAL

Saturday was sunny, hot and muggy, and I had the day open to work on my Rainbow Rose top and hoped to complete all the quilting.  The ditch quilting was finished and I had just begun the FMQ in the white areas.
A bright flash of the overhead ceiling light, then darkness descended over the needle area and the sewing machine stopped humming ... a power outage ... for the next six hours!   When the power was finally restored it was time for dinner and our daily evening watering chores in the gardens.

There won't be another six-hour block of time to complete the quilting this week before the final link-up ends, so I'm linking up with Modern Quilters Ireland today to show my progress to date.
The completed top before quilting

The back, ditch quilting completed

Progress to date!

I've had fun working on this little quilt so far and hope to have it finished soon.  Looking forward to seeing how the other participants have finished their versions.  I'm still mulling over how the star segments will be quilted.

According to our local weather forecasters the last time our area had more than one inch of rainfall in a single day was October 15 of last year!   Our last soaking rain occurred before the last snowfall this past spring.   We are currently in a severe drought, as are other major areas of the country.  We are fortunate to live in a valley and have a fairly deep well that has no recent history of running dry, but we are still watering our three gardens very sparingly, hoping to achieve at least some harvest.  Many others on the hillsides are not as fortunate, their wells are running dry.   Many of the farms in our area are small subsistence farms, and it is heartbreaking to see the crops so withered and their growth stunted by the relentless heat and drought.  We are praying for several days of slow soaking rain to replenish the earth, fill the streams and begin to restore the water table.  

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Westering Women #6: Hill and Hollow; Mail Call

Finished my June block for the Westering Women BOM.  Barbara named this block Hill and Hollow, and her historical references for the block cited the change of topography when one reaches the Nebraska panhandle. Having traveled across Nebraska many times over the years, I can imagine by the time many wagon trains reached that area it was mid-to-late summer, hot and dusty, and those hills and hollows, not to mention ruts in the trail were dusty and brown - much like the trail across each quadrant of my block. Dark distant hills, and flowers along the trail dry and their colors muted by the layer of fine dirt covering everything along the way, kicked up by thousands of pack animals and wagon wheels passing by.

While stitching this block I had lamented my choice of medium values for the hills and hollows, but now I'm rather liking the effect.

I wonder how many of us today would be sturdy enough to endure that long, long journey without any of the comforts of home and family, neighbors and their sisterhood of quilters.

We are now half way through this BOM celebrating the women who took part in this westward migration.  I am in awe of their courage and steadfastness in the face of incredible hardship and danger.

Over the past few days the mailbox has once again been filled with sweet surprises. A copy of Julie Sefton's new book Build-A-Barn, No Pattern Construction arrived via a blog giveaway from Cathy who blogs at Sane, Crazy, Crumby Quilting whose unique barn was featured in this post.  Cathy is a charter member of Julie's Secret Society of Barn Builders who tested the process notes for Julie's book and are featuring their barn creations at an ongoing blog hop.  You can visit Julie and learn more about this fun new book and the blog hop at Julie's blog here and her new book's very own blog here. I've been collecting photos of barns during our travels, and with fall being my favorite season, and New York being a big apple-growing state, I think I just found the perfect fabric to accessorize my first barn-building attempt.  The question remains, will I find any maple sugaring fabric for a springtime barn?

Last, but certainly not least, yesterday's mail brought this bundle of mini-charm packs from Sue Brain who blogs at suebee's World.   My first thought was a doll quilt for these cute little prints, but a set of special placemats for the grandkids' visits might also be in order.

Many thanks to both Julie and Sue for these very special giveaways!  Seems like a lot of new fun projects are on the to-do list.

We've had a little much-needed rain last night and earlier today, but a few rainy days would be more than welcome in these parts. Still, we have much to be thankful for, as we have not experienced the intense storms and flooding many are enduring.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Quilty 365 - June

Ah June, a month for falling behind and staying behind.  While there should be a total of 235 circles completed by June 30, as of today there are only 23 totally finished for June and my total number is 228.

Though there is a lovely little stack that will take me nearly through the end of July awaiting their turn for stitching.  What can I say except like many others, sometimes life just gets in the way of even a little bit of evening stitching.

Hoping to be caught up once again by the end of July.  Linking up with Audrey at Quilty Folk.