Monday, December 26, 2016

The Best Christmas Gift

The safe delivery of a precious grandbaby
who arrived late Thursday evening.   Mama and son went home yesterday, so happy!

Mama said to me yesterday "I never knew I could love anything so much."  Now you know, sweet girl!   Daddy is smitten.

Our little Christmas burrito, snug in his Tardis blanket!

The Christmas placemats remain unfinished ... maybe next year.  Tomorrow the fun begins as we head east to visit this new little family!

May the blessings of Christmas remain in your heart all through the year.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

And the winner is ...

Greetings from snow-now-melting country!  May the thaw continue until the built up snow/ice on the roof is gone at least!

Star production has slowed to a snail's crawl, with only a couple more needed to round out my hoped-for total. Our new grandson has yet to make an appearance, but here is his first Christmas ornament made by Grandma, using bits of his baby quilt fabrics.

And now, the winner of this giveaway
is Dana Gaffney of Stormy Days blog fame, who said:

I need to check out that tool, seeing those annoying threads pop up under a piece of white is one of my big "make me whine" things. I still haven't found time for a star but I bookmarked the tutorial.
Congratulations Dana, I'll get your package out as soon as I have your mailing address!

Still lots to do before Christmas, so if I don't post again before then, wishing each and every one a blessed Christmas with family and friends!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

'Tis the Season ... for a giveaway

This giveaway is now closed.

This post should probably be titled Seeing Stars!

When I wrote earlier this week, 25 of these little stars were finished.  And now there are 48, with another five or six in the queue.  All should be finished later today - yay!  Then it's on to the Christmas baking marathon.

'Tis the Season for giving, and someone who comments on this post will win one of my handmade stars plus this nifty little gadget, which Kyle at Timeless Reflections recommended highly in a post earlier this year.

This is just the tool for when those stray dark threads suddenly appear under the surface of your in-progress quilting or worse yet, in the most visible part of your completed quilt!

So, the usual rules - giveaway is open to U.S. readers, and if you are a no-reply commenter please leave your email address in your comment so I have a way to contact you if you're the lucky one.  I'll draw a name from the proverbial hat on Saturday afternoon and ship early next week.

And the question remains, will this grandma's best Christmas present arrive before the 25th? His mama's birthday is tomorrow, now that would be a perfect birthday gift, don't you think?

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Stalled and Fast-Forwarding

The other day Dana at Stormy Days asked the question what do you do when you're stalled with a quilting project.  I suspect the unanimous response was not "clean the house"!  But her question had my name written all over it because ... my first Christmas project for us in many a year, stopped in its tracks by some really awful machine quilting that I'll never be happy with, right in those pretty Dresden plates.
Fabric in the Dresdens from a recent blogaversary win from Kyle
at Timeless Reflections - Thanks Kyle!

What to do, what to do? Of course the offending parts will need to be unpicked and redone, perhaps with some big stitch hand quilting, but that will need to wait until after Christmas.  The binding could still be added at this point, some big chunky candlesticks plunked right on top of the worst of the quilting and it could be used this season.   The binding is all prepped, and two matching placemats have been pieced and ready for quilting, but ...
Minus its binding, and the dresdens need to be re-quilted, but I do love the overall look!

So, what do I do when a project is stalled?  Stopped dead in its tracks?  Why pull out a bin or three of fabrics, spread them around the room, and start cutting of course!  Late in November Doreen at Treadlemusic shared this link to a tutorial at "Crafting a Rainbow" for these sweet Scandinavian folded stars.  I was off on a new adventure!
The first two

I'll tell ya, these are addicting!
And then there were 25 !

Somewhere along the line I had this great idea to make one for each of our church families to serve as this year's Christmas card.  That would be about 40 total, then there are the family Christmas gifts, a few close friends, and of course the members of our quilt ministry!  Yikes, what have I gotten myself into, lol!?

These little babies are super stash busters, I'm going through my bin of Christmas fabrics and whittling it way down, not to mention the fat quarter bins.  Each star uses a little over one square foot of fabric, so it doesn't take long to use up a lot of those oddball fat quarters that never seem to make it into a quilt because they don't seem to "go" with anything else.   When they're folded down into 3/4 inch squares and triangles all those little bits magically transform themselves into a colorful, cohesive whole, at least that's what I'm telling myself!

These are a bit fiddly to make and require a LOT of finger dexterity!  I found a small black paper clamp a necessary tool to hold the folded star points in place while pushing the fabric ends down under the central woven squares with the wooden point-maker thingie that came with my dresden template.
I also learned it's best to cut those fabric ends to the correct length before pushing them under the center squares rather than attempting to trim them after the fact as shown in the tutorial!

After completing 17 in one evening there was a bit of carpal tunnel complaining in my left wrist, so I'm progressing a bit more slowly now, no more marathon folding, just a few each day and all seems to be well.  There are over 30 completed as of this morning, except for adding the hanging ribbons.  

And that's the news from this little corner of snowy Western New York!  That Christmas runner may still get the binding added later this week, but I'm not betting on it.  These are way too much fun!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Quilty 365 - December Link-up

Ever since finishing up the last eight circles early in November, I've been dithering with the math and whether there is enough of my chosen background fabric to achieve this setting for a queen size quilt large enough to serve as a bedspread.
I really want to use the burnt orange fabric for the setting triangles as well as sashing the blocks, but at this point I still don't know if there's enough of the setting fabric!!  Just how hard can the math be? Well, as of now, apparently just a little too much for this aging brain since every time I sit down and try to figure it out I come up with a different number!   Most of those numbers indicate we'll run out of the chosen fabric before we run out of quilt, if it's to reach the hoped-for size, using a narrow coping border then a wide outer border of a complimentary fabric.

Several blogging friends suggested using the burnt orange to sash the circle blocks and using a different fabric for the setting triangles. So, earlier this week after attaching the sashing to about 45 of the blocks I auditioned several possibilities for alternate setting triangles.
Two dark possibilities - definitely too dark

A closer view of the left-most fabric in the previous photo, a possibility for an outer wide border - maybe

Better, but ...

Hmm, maybe for a narrow coping border

Truth be told, I'm not fond of any of these choices for setting triangles, but I'm glad that I went through the exercise of auditioning some different fabrics. A straight edge for the burnt orange just looks better to my mind's eye. So now, with the still-fuzzy math and brain overtaxed, we're kind of flying by the seat of our pants so to speak.  I'll reserve enough fabric to make setting triangles in that burnt orange fabric and build whatever size quilt I can make with what is available.  As of this morning a little over 100 blocks have been sashed, though the rows have yet to be laid out for final assembly.  I'll need to take over the living room floor to do that, someday when hubby and the dog have retired for a nap or the night.

It's fun pulling out all 366 blocks and seeing all the different fabrics that have gone into this project over the past year.  Linking with Audrey at Quilty Folk, then I'll take a break from this project for a day or two and work on a couple small Christmas items.  Time to finish them so we can use them this month!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Memories of Astoria - a November finish!

On a bit of a roll this month, though any remaining finishes for the rest of the year will be much smaller! Yesterday I put the last stitch in the binding and added a label on the quilt made for my husband, whose favorite place in the world is Astoria, Oregon.

Nearly all the fabrics for this quilt were found last fall in the little quilt shops that grace nearly every coastal town in the state; we started in Port Orford and traveled north all the way to Astoria along the Columbia River, where we found some gorgeous yardage depicting turn-of-the-20th century salmon canning labels.  So fitting since my husband worked at the OSU Seafood Lab in Astoria while a student at Clatsop Community College many years ago.   The colors in the canning labels are so rich and vibrant, my rather pathetic photo editing skills do not do them justice at all.  Yesterday's weather was also not cooperating for an outdoor photo shoot. Although the snow had stopped by mid-afternoon and we had some sun-breaks, the wind was gusting at 50-60 mph with a wind-chill of 12 degrees.  Not my cup of tea, no siree!

The canning label blocks were sashed with fabrics depicting Oregon - beach grass, the rock jetty at the mouth of the Columbia River, sand dollars, coastal mountain forests, ocean creatures and flora.

Most of the alternate blocks were banded with deep blue fabrics - ocean waves.

And, since Quilty 365 circles were always on my mind this year, it didn't take long to add another 28 or so in various sizes to this quilt!

I hand quilted this quite simply, about 1/8" from the ditch along nearly every seam, then outlined various features within each block.  My husband wanted cotton batting, the Hobbs 80/20 makes the quilt relatively flat and I'm happy with that look for this quilt since we wanted the fabric features to be the focal point, not the quilting.  Finished size is 56x65 inches, just about perfect for an afternoon nap on the couch.
The back - more beach grass.

I'm thankful to have this finished in time for Thanksgiving later this week!  Wishing you all a joyful week with family and friends.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Friday Finish

I've never considered myself to be especially superstitious, but this was the 13th quilt our little ministry group set out to make this year, for the son of one of our church members who is undergoing chemotherapy.  All I'll say is that this number 13 fought us every step of the way, but with the exception of sewing on the label this morning, it's finally finished!

The first top our group attempted for this 13th quilt turned into a fiasco that is now relegated to "teaching quilt" status, and the group went back to the basics with this very easy pattern, relearning the importance of consistent quarter-inch seams, pinning for accuracy, thread tension, etc.  Each person made one row of the top and this time the rows went together with only a few tiny issues. Borders were added, and the top laid flat on the floor for pinning.  All good so far. Then I brought it home for quilting and the headaches began.  I had planned to quilt fairly close organic straight lines on this one, but the top was having none of that, shifting badly with each successive pass! No matter if I alternated direction with each row of quilting or stitching successive lines from top to bottom. Rats! So, last weekend I spent several hours ripping out about 17 lines of stitching, repinned the entire top and began again. This time I ditch quilted and forgot about doing organic straight lines every inch or so. The top continued to shift, though not quite as badly, and it's now quilted just enough to keep the batting from shifting when the quilt is washed.
After adding a machine stitched binding yesterday, it was ready for an outdoor photo shoot just before sunset.
I added a line of free motion swirls and loops on the borders.  They're almost visible here in the late afternoon light.

Tomorrow this #13 will be given to the recipient's mother to be delivered to him over the holidays. And our little group of five has already begun working on two additional quilts for chemo patients in the local community.

With any luck there will be a personal finish to post before the end of the month.  In the meantime, wishing you all a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

And the last circle is made

My days of stitching little circles have ended, for now at least!  366 days later, here are the final eight.

It doesn't look very impressive for a year's worth of circles when they're piled up like this.

I've been leaning toward an on-point layout for assembling the quilt, and several months ago one of the participants showed her layout with a very narrow dark sashing framing each square.  Ever since we began this quilt-along I've pondered how I could incorporate this lovely burnt orange fabric into the project.  I hope you can see all the little overlapping circles in the photo below.

So, this is what has been simmering on the design wall for the past few days.
I still need to do a lot of the dreaded quilty math before strips are cut and the sashings are stitched. My preliminary calculations indicate that this layout will make a queen bedspread size quilt with circles left over.  They also indicate that I'll be a bit short on the burnt orange fabric!  So, this is all very tentative at the moment.  The one thing I do know is that I'll make a quilt of some size using this fabric - it just makes me smile every time I walk into the sewing room!

The fabric in question is by Moda, and is named Tranquility, by Sandy Gervais, Pattern #17398, and is from about 2008 or 2009.  I've had the fabric in my stash for a couple years, sent by another blogger who was downsizing her stash.   I've done an online search but haven't found any more out there, so if any of you happen to have a yard or even two languishing in your stash that you would like to part with and sell, please let me know!

This morning will be spent with my quilt ministry buddies, working on quilts 13-16 for the year!  Not bad for our little group of 5 regular members!  Then it's off to our little town hall to complete my civic duty and privilege and vote, the old-fashioned way, with paper and pencil though they do have a new-fangled machine that counts those carefully completed paper ballots.   The day dawned cold and clear, and promises to be a beautiful sunny November day, which I choose to take as a sign of hope after the many months of dark rumbling political storms we have all endured.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

October's Circles - Quilty 365

Nearing the finish line with only eight circles left to make in November - hooray!!  Election Day will mark the end of my Quilty 365 (or 366) circle-making marathon, then it's on to setting them together.
October's circles

I've pretty much decided that my circles will be set on point but still deciding whether to frame each square with a narrow sashing.

Last month I was hoping to find a fabric depicting an Australian Shepherd dog resembling our family dog, and ended up ordering a sample piece of a fabric from Spoonflower.  I'm quite pleased with this circle and think it depicts our Olie rather well.

Critters of all kinds abound in my October circles.

I think this is going to make a splendid I-Spy quilt for the guest room bed.  Though it became tedious at times, I'm happy that I persevered through an entire year and that so many others have as well! Linking up with Audrey who started it all ...

Friday, October 28, 2016

A little bit of this, a little bit of that ...

After finishing the second baby quilt last weekend,

it was time to stitch up a few receiving blankets for the new grandbaby-to-be. This motley quartet was finished up yesterday.
Three of them loosely follow the woodland creatures theme of the nursery, and the fourth?  Well, both mom and dad are die-hard Dr. Who fans, so why not a Tardis blanket for the little guy?  I'll use these to wrap up a few small items purchased for the shower next weekend, and tie up the packages with ribbons and teething rings, etc.  Can you tell I'm really into this - my baby is having a baby!

Since the daily circles for Quilty 365 are winding down very soon, my thoughts turned to what hand work project to work on next.  I've long admired the little basket quilts made by some of my blogging friends, similar to the quilt featured in When the Cold Wind Blows and wondered if my needleturn applique skills had improved enough over the last year to attempt the sharp angles and curves of these nearly 300(!) tiny baskets.  And when I saw Pam Buda's new fabric line Old Plum Calicos, I fell in love with those soft purples and knew those would be the colors of my baskets, if I could just make them!  So this week I got out the one plum fabric in my entire fabric stash and made this
Yes, I can!  So happy with the way this first little basket turned out, and my first attempt at reverse applique.  Now that's something to whoop it up about!  Now, to bite the bullet and splurge a bit on some of that luscious plum calico fabric!

Linking up with Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, and wishing you all a lovely fall weekend!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

A Flood, a Finish, and Fur

My last post began with photos of our fall scenery as seen from the back deck of our house.
Our creek runs along the base of the hill, not visible in the above photo but about 30 feet back of the woodpile in the distance.  Forty-eight hours and 4 inches of rain later, the creek had risen about five feet and was well out of its banks

and we could see these rapids from our back windows.

Thankfully the flooding in our area did not cause any serious damage.  There is an inch or so of water in our unfinished basement which will be gone in another day or so when the water table recedes. South and east of us in Pennsylvania conditions were much worse.  But the rains have stopped and the skies cleared late Saturday afternoon.

And, just before supper on Saturday I took the last stitch on the binding and finished the second quilt for grandbaby #8!  These first photos were taken indoors in less than ideal lighting conditions.

These fabrics are wonderfully soft and I tried to keep the quilting from becoming too dense.  After washing it remained nice and soft, the Polydown batting gave it just the right amount of loft yet it is very lightweight.
A closer look

Late Sunday afternoon the skies cleared a bit, the sun emerged for a few minutes, and it was dry enough to try an outside photoshoot.  

my favorite spot to photograph quilts - though better in early morning light

Later as we were eating supper, sort of minding our own business, we happened to look out the window to see this
across the road in our neighbor's driveway
we hurried out to the front porch to capture this visitor who hung around just long enough for us to snap these photos, then lumbered off back into the woods.
No, the cellar wouldn't make a good winter den, thank you!

And how was your weekend?