Friday, January 21, 2022

January Doings

January has brought fierce winds, a nor'easter that dumped  around16 inches of snow here, and after a one day thaw, we're back in deep frigid bleak mid-winter. The temperature this morning was -19F and as I write this it is -8 degrees.  Our year-old Sammy cat is outside at the moment, worrisome to be sure, but he's become the little terrorist if we try to restrain him from going outdoors.  Hopefully he is in the barn where there is a small heat lamp over his "camping out" bed.  He's quite the adventurer, yesterday we caught him stalking a couple deer who like to visit the bird feeders near the barn.  Quite a sight as they all took off running, Sammy gave up the chase when he saw those long legs a-leaping!

On the quilting front, the year started lazily and I decided to attack the baggies and swiffer boxes of scraps in an attempt to clear some of the excess clutter around here.  Happy to say my January mini was finished early last week, and will be posted closer to the end of the month.  Then I tackled another bag of mostly 2-1/2 inch scrappy pieces most of which were leftovers from the Marrakesh quilt of a few years back.  I ended up with three placemats and two smaller hot dish or mug-rug flimsies, to hopefully all be quilted soon.  I'm planning to raid my orphan block box for backings for all of these, the plan being to use up as many of those oddballs as possible this year.

Another project I'd begun last year at quilt ministry was this one, which I quickly discovered would never work out in that venue due to space limitations and the constant interruptions that happen there. Anyway I'd hoped to make some progress building additional slabs this month, since sidetracked.

In the meantime, we learned last week that a family who had attended our little church lost their home and everything but the clothes they were wearing in a fire.  No insurance, sadly, which is often the case in this area.  The grandparents have two adult grandchildren plus another non-family member living with them.  Our little quilt group which has shrunk drastically in these covid times is busy working on making some quilts.  We had only one to immediately give to the family, but hopefully within the next couple weeks there will be four more.  This is the one I've been working on for the past week and a half, now a completed flimsy.   The blue and gray fabrics are a layer cake that I'd picked up a couple years ago.  A bit disappointing to have so many of the fabrics in the light range, I'd hoped for more dark to better achieve the diagonal gradation of color in the hatchet blocks.  The pinks are all scraps from the stash.  Here's how it looked in the semi-final layout before sewing blocks together.

And the completed top:

I used up all but a couple tiny scraps of the backing fabric from Lady Sings the Blues for the border. The top measures 59x74 inches.

Barring another snowstorm I'd like to get this pin-basted at next Tuesday's quilt ministry meeting, along with another top that was completed last fall, the red and white log cabin quilt.  They will both be simply machine quilted and bound and hopefully out the door to the family in a couple weeks.  

I guess that will more than take us into February!  And I thought I might just ease into the new year ...
But it's all good, quilting a red and white quilt in early February sounds just about right.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

A Look Back and a Peek Ahead

2021 seemed like a hugely busy year, quilting-wise, though there were probably less finishes than in most previous years.  Probably a continuing trend as age creeps up on all of us.  I did complete six mini/small quilts, three baby quilts, two throw size and six bed size.  Four ended up being donated and two were gifted.  You can find all of them on the Page entitled "2015 and Later" just under the blog header.

Here are a few of my favorites from last year.

Sing the Blues Mama Lou

Stitched by an Aging Hand, my diamond jubilee quilt

Lady Sings the Blues - gifted

Black Magic

For 2022 I'm not setting a lot of goals but plan to just let the quilts ebb and flow as they dictate.  Of course finishing the oldest UFO - Quilty 365 is a priority, but beyond that, a few minis and donation quilts.  And absolutely no BOMs, sew-alongs, mysteries, or other entanglements that I'll feel guilty about abandoning or otherwise falling behind.  

After the long saga of hand quilting my diamond jubilee quilt I chose this little cutie to put into the hand quilting hoop for evening fun. 

I'm planning to set this one aside for a future great-grandbaby when it's completed.  No hurry with this one, just a few stitches every evening as time allows.

There appears to be no end in sight to the endurance test we've all been living through for the past couple of years.  Rather than choosing a "word" for the year, I'd rather stay with what I call Words for Living and mine has been the phrase Faith Over Fear.  Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Rounding Out the Year with a Mini

 I finally have finished Janet's (Rogue Quilter) fall challenge to take a baggie of saved scraps and turn them into a mini quilt by the end of the year.  I finally located the photo taken of the actual baggie and contents, leftover mini tumbler blocks Janet had sent to me several years ago along with some miscellaneous mini charms that I cut into more tumblers.  

Here is the original mini made with the majority of Janet's tumblers a couple years ago.

And here is the latest mini, just completed last evening:

Janet's "rules" for this baggie challenge included allowing for one additional fabric plus one "neutral" to be added to our baggie's contents.  My "neutral" in this case just happens to be the blue stop border.  This little quilt just wasn't having any of the more traditional neutrals - cream, tan, light gray, etc.   The blue turned out to be perfect, though with less than a fat quarter it was a challenge to create a narrow binding, most of the binding strips were 9-11 inches long - 83 total inches needed.

A piece of blue that has been in the stash for quite a few years was used for the back.

A big thank you to Wendy at The Constant Quilter for rounding up the mini-makers each month, and to Janet for issuing this "baggie challenge."  There are more baggies  and swiffer boxes of scrappy pieces to keep me "challenged" for another year at least!

Wishing you all a new year filled with faith, love, peace, and good health.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Winter Solstice

Today was clear and sunny, and our latest dusting of snow has disappeared.  The five little Christmas table toppers were completed over the weekend, three have already been gifted, the remaining two will be on their way Christmas Day.  A few photos:

All are minimally machine quilted, stitch in the ditch, just enough to hold them together.  So many project, so little time ...

This was a fun little project that used up a lot of 3-1/2 inch scrappy pieces.  

Today is the winter solstice and I've been busy working on my monthly mini, aka Janet's Baggie Challenge.  And I'll leave you with two burning questions:  Is blue a neutral?  and When your quilt screams "NO" do you listen?

Monday, December 13, 2021

The Grand Finale!

So happy to report my Diamond Jubilee Quilt is finished!  Friday evening the final stitches were added to the binding, and that was that!  My hope was to finish this celebration quilt of my 75th year of life before year's end and as it turns out there's time to spare.  And it is aptly named "Stitched by an Aging Hand."  

The weather over the weekend was terrible with high winds and rain, though nowhere near what others in the south were experiencing.  We were fortunate not to suffer any wind damage beyond some branches down, closer to town there were huge old trees down along with power outages.  Anyway, though today is bright and sunny, it's still far too windy and muddy to attempt any outdoor photos, so these will have to do.

The only photo of (nearly) the entire quilt, taken before washing since I needed to use the small available floor space in our living room.  The day was dark and dismal, as reflected in the muted colors.

The next day was brighter, and after washing and a quick spin in the dryer I laid the quilt out on the guest bed to complete drying and more photos.

Three inches in both directions were lost in the quilting and initial washing process.  The final dimensions are 80x80 inches.

The hand quilting was pretty straightforward and simple.  I used a couple stencils in the blocks, some outlining and in the setting triangles and borders a simple 1-1/2 inch cross-hatch, using my favorite Aurifil 12 wt. thread.  

Tried marking the borders with Crayola washable markers though none showed up very well on that dark background, but I'm happy with the outcome.  And really pleased with how that vintage fabric brightened after washing. The next photo shows that fabric the closest to its true color.

The backing fabric is an older Edyta Sitar fabric, I think it is called Indian Summer.  It's been in my stash for several years and there was just barely enough to cover the back.  All the fabrics for this quilt came from stash or the scrap bins, and make-do was the order of the day when several of the block backgrounds required piecing smaller pieces to make the background square large enough.  

So happy to have this one finished!  My first post about making this was in May 2020 here.  I guess as larger quilts go, especially the hand quilted ones, this was finished fairly quickly.  Though it would have taken a week or two longer had I not come down with a cold and spent an entire week sitting in the recliner quilting the setting triangles/borders, since energy to do anything more strenuous was nonexistent.  I guess one can be thankful for a few sick days after all!

So there remains one quilt on my wish-list of finishes for the year - the Quilty 365.  Not going to happen, of course, though I've made considerable progress.  Next year for sure!  Still have the little Christmas table toppers to finish, and I really, REALLY want to have a mini ready this month for Janet's "baggie mini challenge."  

As far as Christmas goes, we pretty much realized a week ago that getting a full size tree this year was out of the question as hubby had a medical procedure coming up (which went well) and a general lethargy set in about any indoor decorating.  Still, while he was in the hospital I did get out a couple boxes and found these old calico Christmas trees.  The fabrics are all from 1982 or earlier, since my mom and I made these together while I was expecting my daughter and mom spent a couple weeks visiting us in Alaska that summer.  We ended up making five of these, and at least four of them are still around.  I have these two, and have used them every year since 1982. They've survived 8 moves, several of them cross country during that time!  

Til next time, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Friday, November 12, 2021

Another baby quilt finish

 The baby quilt for the preemie is now finished and ready for gifting when I next see his great-aunt at church.  

I'm rather happy with how this design turned out, kind of modernish but the fabrics give it an old-fashioned vibe.  The quilt is backed and bound with an all-over print of happy children's faces, and you might notice there's a holiday theme involved, which I hadn't noticed for the longest time.  Funny how you can only see one aspect of a fabric, and completely miss the actual theme!   I chose to focus on the smiling faces, and suspect baby will too.

All of the fabrics came from our quilt ministry stash, and a couple readers may recognize some of them, having sent them from New Orleans and California - thanks again Angie and Lynn!

Happily we've had a few sunny days this week, though winter seems to be breathing down our necks with snowy days forecast for the weekend and well into next week.  Our immediate area is forecast to receive upwards of 5-6 inches - yuck.  The autumn oaks are fast losing their remaining leaves, and the larch trees, the last to show color around here, are turning a soft yellow.  

Another family of squirrels invasion, this time of the holiday sort, thanks to Marie at Quilt Bee blog, in the form of Christmas themed table toppers.  She indicated she had seen one on Pinterest.   Here's my first one under construction, awaiting borders

which I'll add later today

Easy-peasy, and will be perfect for a few of those little gifts we all want to have on hand for the season, or for our own use.  I'll make a couple more with the traditional red and green holiday fabrics, but also planning to try a version using some blues with white.  I'll mention here that those folded corners for the stars are SO easy using Doug Leko's Simple Folded Corners Ruler, and so much faster than drawing lines on squares before stitching.  No affiliation, just a happy user.   

Til next time, happy stitching!

Friday, October 29, 2021

Catching up at the end of the month

Over the past few weeks I've been cutting 2 inch strips from a box of fat quarters and smaller pieces donated to our quilt ministry a few months ago.  This Tuesday the final rows of blocks were stitched into this top, now awaiting quilting after the new year.   This one measures 64x76 inches at the moment.  Not inclined to add a border at this point, but we'll see.

The inspector was on duty of course ...

Next up, another smaller start for the quilt ministry.  We had a bin of scrappy leftovers from two quilts made from an older line of fabric donated to us a couple years ago.  And we just received word of a tiny two-pound preemie just born to the niece of one of our church members.  Who should of course have a special quilt awaiting him when he is eventually discharged from the hospital, expected sometime around Christmas.  These are the first four blocks, each block will finish at 9 inches.  Planning to add a border or two after the blocks are assembled. What do you think - too dark, too much pink, or will it be ok for a baby boy quilt??  I'm never quite sure when not working with "kid" fabrics.

Then of course there's the monthly mini challenge which I've been very delinquent about.  When Janet O. at Rogue Quilter issued a challenge to all the mini-makers to create a mini from the contents of our baggie storage systems, I immediately thought of all the little sandwich bags stored in a couple of my swiffer boxes.  Retrieved two of those baggies, one with tiny flying geese, and the other containing the leftovers from a gaggle of tumbler mini blocks Janet had sent me a few years ago plus a bunch of miscellaneous 2-1/2 inch squares left from previous projects. Decided to tackle the tumbler baggie first, so I made a cardboard template from one of the tumbler blocks and proceeded to cut up all the squares to make more tumblers, and that's as far as I've gotten with my next mini.  Hopefully I'll be able to squeeze this project into November's schedule.  This plus the remaining hand quilted projects should be more than enough to keep me busy and avoiding any unnecessary housework for quite awhile!

Til next time, happy stitching! 

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Another Finish - or not

 Yesterday the sun finally showed its face again and I was able to take a few photos of the latest finish, the Black and White Triangles quilt.  It needs a better name than that, please chime in with something that seems fitting as my mind is blank!

Not sure why but this quilt is incredibly heavy considering the large piecing, the usual 80/20 Hobbs Heirloom cotton/poly batting, and a one-piece wide backing.  I should have weighed that backing fabric I guess.  It will be a warm one for sure.

I machine quilted it with double lines across each triangle edge, but thinking it might need more.  When my two big hand quilting projects are finally completed I might just get this back out and do some big stitch hand quilted circles in the middle of each triangle.  What do you think?  It is perfectly usable as it is now, and can be pressed into service when the grands come for their next overnight stay in the meantime.  So maybe it's finished and maybe not ...

The backing.  And here is a warning - I ordered this one from a well-known company, it "should" have been plenty large enough for this 80x80 inch quilt.  But, rather than the advertised 108" width the fabric was barely 100 inches in width, and it had been cut 'straight' as it was folded on the bolt, but in fact I lost a good 18 inches of length due to its not being on grain when it was folded right off the loom.   So, when layering and pinning the top, I had to angle it rather than having the backing straight across.  Thankfully it appears fairly straight now that the quilting and binding are finished and it has gone through its first wash.  

As usual my four-legged buddy accompanied me as we wandered around the yard for a few more shots. I think he's learned the art of posing for quilt photos!

Today was the last nice day before our next round of dreary rainy days and colder nights.  Weather forecasters are calling for snow flurries in the higher elevations Saturday and Sunday night. We've had very little fall colors here, many trees just dropped their leaves without changing color at all, others turned brown rather than the typical bright reds, yellows and bronzes.  

Last fall we had bought a bundle of three ears of Indian corn to hang next to the back door on the covered porch.  They stayed there all winter and into late planting season this spring.  Hubby decided to try an experiment and planted a row of the kernels along with some sunflowers along the garden fence.  Well, the sunflowers grew tall but the Indian corn grew taller, with some stalks reaching at least 12 feet high, a couple might have reached 13-14 feet!  The leaves were huge too.  And the stalks bore ears of corn which we eagerly awaited to see if they would have the wonderful colors of the parent kernels.  Checked a few ears in early September and were disappointed to see only whitish  kernels at the top of the ears we tested.  Hubby cooked a couple of those ears and tried eating them - very starchy!  But today, lo and behold, some of the ears yielded pure gold!  What a happy surprise, kind of like opening gifts on Christmas morning.  These are our fall colors blessing this year!
Glistening like agates just tossed by the waves onto a beach .

I only opened four ears today, there are more waiting in the wheelbarrow to husk on another day. Some are quite small and probably won't yield much,  but we're delighted with these and if we can get the kernels planted earlier next year, we may get a much better harvest to share and decorate the porch next fall.

And I'll leave you with the latest photo of Sammy in his favorite napping spot in the 'tent' created under the hoop stand holding my Quilty 365.

Til next time, happy stitching!