Thursday, December 31, 2015

Out with the old ...

No, wait, I love old!  What's the hurry to begin another year anyway?  We're all just going to get another year older.  It's 3 a.m. and I think I'll just savor this very long sweet last day of 2015 since sleep seems to be eluding us yet again.

Many of my blogging friends have been considering their Word for 2016.  Something I've not done before, but considering it seems pretty harmless and doesn't require keeping up with a BOM or mystery quilt-along, I think we'll join in for 2016.  So, the word from here is Thankfulness - for each day of life, for our family, our church friends near and far, blogging buddies, for the luxury of being retired and (almost) able to have enough time to quilt to my heart's content.

So, the other night after our houseful of guests including four of the grandkids and two (large) grand-dogs had left, I found myself with nothing prepped for evening stitching!  Let me just say that was a most empty feeling - that needed immediate fixing.  So, by the next evening my recliner looked something like this.

Much better!

Current quilt in the hand-held hoop is my version of Country Roads from Lori's Humble Quilts fall quiltalong.  I've so enjoyed making this little quilt top and look forward to seeing it finished and gracing the antique table next to the recliner.  Though difficult to see in the next photo the central pieced block is now quilted with cross-hatching through the small four-patches and the setting squares are marked with a feathery stencil.

After a week of being way behind on stitching my Quilty 365 circles, they are finally caught up again!  This week after Christmas is a time of reflection and several of the circle fabrics have a softer, antique-y feel.  This next one was chosen for Christmas night, when we experienced a gorgeous full moon and starlit sky, so bright we could see the surrounding mountains clearly.

See you next year!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas!

May the Reason for the Season reside in your hearts throughout the New Year!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Finished at Last!

Finished at last and slept under last night.  My Christmas gift to me, this Blockade Quilt, now officially out of the quilting hoop, all bound and about to have its label attached.
I had help stitching down the binding
Trying to find a place large enough to spread it out for photographing the entire quilt was impossible. It finished at 80 x 90 inches after washing - here it is on the guest bed where it will take up residence
This quilt came to me as a completed top, the seller had acquired it from the estate of an Ohio Mennonite lady who was a prolific quilter and had also owned a quilt shop for many years. The top is machine stitched, with fabrics primarily from the 1950-1960s era, although there are several fabrics that appear earlier than the others, the one below feels and looks like feedsack to me.
Some of the fabrics remind me of pajama prints from the 50s when I was very young, especially that blue print in the lower left corner of the following photo.
I spent nearly eight months hand quilting this vintage piece, working on it a little every day and finally finished the borders in a week-long marathon of stitching, pretty much abandoning all the other in-progress projects.
Border detail

Back is white muslin that shows quilting detail 

The mail brought a little package the other day, from an old friend on the west coast.  Inside was her Christmas card and this sweet little ornament!  Exquisitely detailed, constructed with five different wood species, and the machine has gold metallic thread 'threaded' through a tiny wood tension mechanism and wire thread guides.  The ornament is approximately two inches long and a little over an inch tall.   Love it!

A closer detail:

Today's agenda includes making a huge batch of pierogi for the holidays, then we really must get out the wrapping paper and ribbons and attack the mound of gifts piling up in the guest room.  Time's a'wasting, and we celebrate an early Christmas with my son and DIL and the three youngest grands on Wednesday.  The rest of the grands will arrive on Sunday for their Christmas in the country.  Busy happy times ahead.   To all of my blogging friends I wish a joyous and peaceful Christmas with friends and family.  

Friday, December 18, 2015

A Little Bit of This ...

A little bit of this, a little bit of that, and the days go flying by.  The Christmas cards are on the dining room table, partially addressed, not a single gift is wrapped, the cookies and pierogi are yet to be made.  What's the problem you ask - birthdays, that's what!  Just this week we've traveled halfway across the state twice - in different directions - to celebrate three family birthdays!  Fun, but the travel time sure eats away at productive time.  I tried taking along some of the Quilty 365 circles to applique while traveling on Wednesday, managed to complete one and get a start on another.  Found that if the roads are not entirely smooth, traveling in a pickup truck makes it somewhat difficult to maintain nice tiny even stitching.  Still, it is possible to get something accomplished.  Anyway, here are last week's circles.

A bit of a holiday theme going on at the moment.  I've been going through the Christmas fabrics and scrap bins looking for some pieces that remind me of Christmas projects past.  Christmas seems especially festive this year as we've had a fun time decorating our little country home (actually more of a slightly overgrown cabin) for the first time, and we will be seeing all the grandchildren this year.

I also managed to complete one quilty Christmas gift this year, and since I don't think the recipient reads my blog will show it now.  Easy peasy with this great fabric purchased a few years ago.  The backs of a couple of the placemats are pieced, the mats are free motion quilted in meandering leaf, wavy lines, overall flowery and the jesters hat patterns.  There was just enough fabric left to make four coordinating napkins.

A slightly closer view though the color is a bit washed out:

With any luck there will be one last finish for the year - hand stitching the binding down on the Blockade quilt is proceeding slowly during the evenings, about half completed now.  I may just reach my goal of having this one finished by Christmas!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Christmas Nostalgia

Every year when the boxes of decorations come out, the first items to be hung are two fabric Christmas trees.
My mom and I made four of these trees in late summer of 1982.  I was living in Alaska at the time, was expecting my daughter, and my mom was visiting for a couple weeks.  A happy time stitching and stuffing the triangles, one of my favorite memories of my mom.  I kept two of the trees for our home and gave one to her and the last one went to my MIL for Christmas that year.  This one hangs in the dining room and the second one decorates the back (main) entrance to our house.

The Blockade quilt inches closer to completion with less than 3 feet of the last border left to be quilted!  Hopefully I'll be on to the binding by weekend, though our schedule is getting busier by the day, with a lot of family birthdays in addition to Christmas preparations.  A last-minute gift project is in the works, photos to come later.

The circles keep adding up and are slowly taking over the design wall.  Here are days 22 thru 28.
Starting to find a few seasonal fabrics in the scrap bins to add to the mix.  And I found one scrap of this lovely old indigo floral.  So nice to see it again!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Quilty 365 - Linking Up

As many of you know, Audrey over at Quilty Folk is hosting a year-long quilt-along she's named Quilty 365, and today is her first linky party where we get to share our progress and admire what everyone else has been doing along the way.  These quilts are a very personal journey for each participant, a journey with a simple premise, to choose one fabric each day that reflects that day's mood, the weather, a holiday, whatever represents that day in your quilting life.  Applique a circle of your chosen fabric to a 4 1/2 inch square.  Next day, repeat.  For a year, or even a bit longer, depending on your desired finished quilt size.

And it's not to late to join in.  Several participants are a week or two ahead of my progress, others have just begun their own Quilty 365 journey.  It's all great fun and great encouragement to share our progress with some new quilty friends as well as long-time blogging buddies.

Today will be day 23 in this girl's Quilty 365 odyssey, as I began on Monday, November 9.  Though today's circle isn't yet stitched (it is only 7 a.m.) I'm happy to report that so far I've been able to stay on task and have a completed applique circle for each day so far of this year-long journey!
The first 22 days

It's difficult to resist the urge to pull scraps for a week's worth of circles at a time, so there's a messy pile in one corner of the cutting table most of the time these days, with several other projects going on simultaneously.  And I tell you, it's doubly hard to resist cutting just one little circle out of a corner of some favorite fabrics waiting in their respective bins for quilts still in the planning stages!  But this like so many other quilts will be built from a year of patience, one piece at a time, of contemplative stitching while sipping a mug of morning latte or evening tea.  I've been documenting each week's progress, this is my third week - days 15-21:
Week 3

and yesterday - day 22:

Now, it's time to link up with Audrey at Quilty Folk, then find some breakfast, pour a second cup of coffee and come back and check out what everyone else has been stitching.

Monday, November 23, 2015

A Handstitching Weekend

It was 12 degrees outside this morning - yikes!  I need to double-down and get the remaining three borders quilted on The Blockade quilt so we can add it to the pile on the beds to keep us warm!  And "they" said El Nino would bring us a warmer than normal winter!

It's all about hand stitching these days.  The sewing machines are covered until it's time to stitch the binding on the two quilts in the hoops.  My goal is to finish both before the end of the year.  The big stitch quilting on the giant hexie quilt is coming along nicely, nearly half done now.

And today begins week three of making the Quilty 365 circles.  These are the ones completed last week.

I found some scraps from the Thanksgiving table napkins I made a few years ago, so this week's circles will have a theme.  I'm thinking this finished quilt will be a quilt of seasons, we'll see how that theme progresses as the months go by.  Are any of you already thinking about setting options for all these circle blocks?  The possibilities occupy my mind around 3 a.m. on those nights when sleep seems elusive, and there are many - possibilities and sleepless nights it seems.

With grocery shopping tomorrow and baking on Wednesday I think those couple circles sewn ahead of time will keep things nearly on schedule.  Wishing all of you a blessed Thanksgiving filled with happy laughter with friends and family.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Circle of Life

Yesterday our 18-1/2 year young kitty Shyloe passed from this earth.  Already considered elderly when we adopted her eight years ago, she surprised us constantly with her resilience and love for life, a warm fire, a sunny spot by the sliding glass doors, and parmeson chicken.

She never met a quilt she didn't love, and kept herself occupied helping to arrange blocks and baste many a quilt,
Considered herself chief inspector of the finished product,
and slept soundly on all the little kitty quilts scattered in her favorite places.

She sleeps now by the edge of the woods, cradled by her little quilts, next to the forsythia we planted last spring.
today's circle - for Shyloe, my quilty kitty

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Trunk Show

Online Quilt Trunk Show | Whims And Fancies

Whims and Fancies is holding a trunk show linky party!  So, in the spirit of November quilty fun, here are a few of my favorite things.  Lets open up the trunk, or in this case cedar chest, shall we?
A couple vintage tops rescued and quilted by me

It all started a very long time ago, shortly after I graduated high school and began working.  I made all my own clothes back then, and being brought up in a very frugal household saved all my fabric scraps.  So, when my son was about two years old, I decided to make him a quilt from all those fabric scraps, loose weaves, polyester fabric and all!  Having no idea how to make a quilt this assemblage of 4 inch squares was filled with an old thermal blanket and "quilted" with fancy embroidery stitches, crazy quilt style.  He loved it, wore it to shreds, and ever-after asked me again and again if I could "fix" it!  He'll be 40 in a couple months, and the quilt as far as I know no longer exists, and no photos either.  Thankfully!   Seven years later, when my daughter was a newborn I took her along to my first quilting classes.  This is the quilt that eventually emerged from those lessons some 33 years ago:
And I was hooked on quilting, and have been ever since.  A few of my favorites over the years:

Wall quilts:
Husband's lighthouse quilt along with a couple of my handwoven pieces

Grandchildren's quilts:

Donation quilts:

Comfort quilts - this is my favorite:

Doll quilts:

Marriage quilts:

Just a few of my favorites over the years.  I hope you'll join in and post a linky of your own trunk full of favorites over at Whims and Fancies!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Around and Around in Circles

Circles everywhere!  Four days into Quilty 365 and so far keeping up.
Quilty 365 - First Four!
Liking the pink and brown combos a lot, so there will be more of them scattered around this eventual quilt.  The pink and brown designs are from an old partial panel from a scrap bag of yard sale fabrics.
And, I know there will soon be days when no sewing is accomplished, so I've cut a few circles ahead from a couple different scraps and have them pinned on the design wall ready and waiting for any opportunity to work on them.
 Next batch of circles to be appliqued
The key to success in this project for me is going to be to not get very far behind.

And, I lied.  I said there would be no additional photos of The Blockade quilt until it is finished. After hand quilting on this queen size monster over the summer, the blocks are finally all quilted; and as I laid it out on the cutting table to repin the borders, couldn't resist a few photos.
My retro quilt - The Blockade
The quilt top was purchased several years ago on eBay, it came from the estate of an Ohio Mennonite lady who was a prolific quilter in her time.  This top came with the border quilting designs already pencilled onto the white muslin.  The blocks were made with a mix of mid-century fabrics, with a few older pieces likely from the 1930s or early 1940s.
I was able to complete one hoopful of the border design last evening.
Hoping I can get by with just quilting the border as drawn and that it won't demand additional background quilting.  I'm using Hobbs Polydown batting which according to one source can be quilted as far apart as six inches.  None of the spaces are that large, so we'll just have to make a judgment call after all the border design is quilted.  We're in need of an additional quilt on the guest bed for winter and I'd like to have this one completed before the Christmas holidays if possible.  And there's white stuff falling from the sky intermittently with possible accumulation later tonight, so an extra quilt is going to be very welcome, very soon!