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?

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Autumn Splendor

We have had a most gorgeous fall season in Western New York. After a summer of drought folks thought the leaves would just turn brown and fall, but instead the hillsides have been even more brilliant than usual.  Now, at just a little past our peak season, this is the view from the deck outside our bedroom just after dawn a couple days ago.
in the early morning mist

Later in the day when the fog began to lift the colors brightened.

I had hoped to finish this

in time for an outdoor photoshoot here

but the winds and rain have arrived.  Today and tomorrow will be soggy, with nearly 4 inches of rain predicted for the next 48 hours or so, followed by colder weather over the weekend.  And colder and wet means the possibility of that other nasty form of precipitation and an end to our gorgeous fall colors.  

But rainy days bring more time in the sewing room, and with any luck the quilting will be completed on the baby quilt later today, and the binding cut and sewn on tomorrow.   I took Debbie's excellent suggestion and quilted a simple leaf and loop design across the pinwheel blocks.  The deer panels have a shallow scallop motif, suggesting their bounding through the forest.  A simple cross-hatch in the squares of the outer border and the quilting will be finished.

As I was outside raking leaves and hauling wheelbarrow loads of them to the gardens, my thoughts returned to years past ... the 1950s in fact ... when I was a youngster in a small town in western NY. In those days before municipal leaf pickup, we and our neighborhood friends would eagerly rake all the leaves to the edge of the street. At dusk they would be set afire by our dads, much to the delight of us kids who would gather up handfuls of hickory nuts to throw into the fire, then run back 10 or 20 feet and wait for them to explode.  Better than fireworks!  And for the record, no eyes were put out in the performance of this crazy stunt, much to the relief of our mothers!

Is it any wonder that fall is my favorite season?!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Progress, in small increments

I finished piecing the second grandbaby quilt top a couple weeks ago. You remember, the one my husband said would make a good target .... um yes, this is the one

The perfect backing fabric was found.  The nursery theme is a woodland setting, especially with foxes.

I finished ditch quilting the major seams mid-week, and free motion quilting began yesterday.  As of last night this much of the center is quilted.

Can't have feathers on a baby boy quilt, but ferns in a woodland setting seem entirely appropriate. It's also one of the few designs I've committed to muscle memory, having stitched an entire huge queen size quilt in this same fern motif several years ago.

Now to come up with a great design for the pinwheel blocks.  Any suggestions?

Monday, October 10, 2016

Nickel Quilting - a Finish!

Do you find yourself in a quandary when it comes to finding a quilting design that fits the quilt top and the intended recipient(s), that is also do-able when there's a tight deadline? Wow, that fits me to a "T" ... especially when it comes to machine quilting! Somehow that never seems to happen with hand quilting, the quilt goes into the hoop, needle is threaded and quilting just seems to happen! Slowly, but it happens.

After being inspired by the lovely soft texture in Audrey over at Quilty Folk's wonderful entry in the Bloggers Quilt Festival here, I really, truly wanted to try some organic straight line quilting for this baby quilt.  Really, I did! Problem was, this quilt was resisting me, every step of the way to the sewing machine.

Circles, it wanted circles - lots of them.  And so, after ditch quilting the major seams, the walking foot reluctantly came off the Janome, and free-motion foot was installed.  Then what?  Off to find some FMQ design that I might have a prayer of a chance to accomplish in a fairly short time, without completely messing up this top and all of its solid whiteness, that was definitely going to show Every.Single.Error.Glaringly.   Sigh...

I began searching some tutorials in one of my favorite FMQ blogs, Lori Kennedy's The Inbox Jaunt, and found her Dots and Dashes Tutorial.  OK, do-able, maybe, as long as I draw those lines and circles ahead of time.
 nickel template!

An afternoon of drawing and quilting - so far, so good

By the second evening the boxes were being filled with another FMQ stand-by, the Jesters Hat design by Wendy Sheppard at Ivory Spring.

I filled the outer borders with large 'bubbles.'   Some of these will be filled in with the letters of the new baby's name and birthdate after he's born.  The remainder will most likely be filled in with a spiral design or some other small motif. Lots of lines drawn, but we can still call the quilting organic and wavy, hehe!

And, finally, yesterday, the scrappy binding was stitched down and a finish!

I love taking newly finished quilts outside for a photo shoot in the early morning light. This morning was nearly perfect, except for the cold north wind blowing!

The lighting was perfect for highlighting the texture of the quilting. Here you can see the 'bubbles' that will need to be filled in later with the little one's name and birthdate. And the leaves that kept falling as I was snapping these photos.

One down, and one more to go - plus a few receiving blankets - in time for the shower in early November.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Quilty 365 - September's Circles

September 30 marked the 329th day of stitching these little circles, and now we're really on the home stretch! That's such a good feeling, as I'm becoming rather anxious to be done with this phase and to put all these little squares together into some kind of coherent I-Spy quilt for the guest bed.  Not that it doesn't have a quilt (or two) already on the bed!  Never can have too many quilts around the house come winter!  Then again, there's the inevitable "will it all come together into  a coherent, lovely whole with the chosen setting fabric waiting in the stash - oh wait, is there even enough of that setting fabric to finish this gigantic top?"

But before I show you my September circles I have a request.  Does anyone out there have a small square of fabric featuring an Australian Shepherd or Sheltie mix dog that they would be willing to part with?  I'd love to find a piece to use for one of the final circles for this quilt - to celebrate Olie, our 13-1/2 year old Aussie mix.  He's been a fixture in our lives for so many years now, it just seems fitting that he should have his own circle in this quilt!  And, as you can see, he's quite the handsome (and chubby) boy.
I've found a couple possibilities on Spoonflower that might do if I don't find anything else. Haven't used Spoonflower fabrics before and wonder how they hold up to occasional washing and drying, or if they are meant mostly for wall quilts that won't need cleaning often.  Anyone out there have experience with them?

OK, getting back to September:
September's circles in all their haphazardly arranged glory

A lot of red and blue this month - I'm down to raiding the last of my fat quarter bundles and color stash bins for likely candidates, having used pieces of pretty much all the scraps around here a couple months ago.  Though there are still a couple pieces of yardage that I can't bear to cut into just yet, even for just a little 3 1/2 inch square! Why do we hoard cherish certain fabrics so much that we continue to save them for just the right time - that never seems to come - or is that just me?!

The first light frost has come and gone, the canner has been packed away for the season, and I'm looking forward to getting back in the sewing room on a more regular basis again.  A very good thing too since there are two baby quilt tops and several receiving blankets needing quilting/hemming before the first weekend in November - yikes!   Though, we still have 30 to 40 more butternut and acorn squash to carry down to the basement shelves for winter use, and the gardens need to be cleaned up before the snow flies.  And then there are the raspberries - we must have chosen the latest varieties EVER, as they are still blooming and finally ripening now!

Remembering 9-11

Linking up with Audrey at Quilty Folk for our monthly gathering of the circles.