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.