Monday, June 29, 2020

June Mini

While I had hoped to have a different mini finish for June, the decision to hand quilt that piece slowed the process.  It should be ready for July's linkup with Wendy at The Constant Quilter

In the meantime another small free motion practice piece that I wanted to save, especially for the dahlia design - fun to do and especially effective on a solid or nearly solid border.  Without further ado -

The front

and the reverse 

I'll link up with Wendy when she posts her June linky party.   In the meantime if you haven't seen her posts while building her Community Supper quilt, be sure to check out her recent blog posts.  This is going to be one fabulous quilt!

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Trying Out the New Blogger with a New Finish

June has been a month of contrasts this year, bright starry nights with hundreds of fireflies flickering in rhythmic harmony over the hayfield, nearly 90 degree days followed by a killing frost last weekend, followed almost immediately by more sunny 80+ degree temps.  Apropos for the year I suppose.

And this morning dawned bright and clear, the neighboring subsistence farmer who cuts, bales and takes our hay for his small farm finished baling a couple days ago.  The bales were still in the field this morning, and how could I not take advantage of that for a photoshoot of the newest finish!  Last stitch put in the binding at 10:30 last night.

Accompanied by my trusty friend of course!

And now I can't figure out how to left align the text after inserting photos.  Oh well, onward!

This is Joseph's Coat II, the third of the tops pieced during Lori's Humble Quilts 2019 Stringalong Challenge.  Hand quilted with my version of big stitch quilting with Aurifil 12 wt. thread in a variety of bright colors.  Such fun, and to think there's another one, Joseph's Coat I, still awaiting a similar "organic line, nothing marked" quilting.   

Gibbs and I walked around after these were taken, looking for other things to photograph. There was the quilt, in various poses, of course.

Interesting to see how the camera interprets the colors in sun vs. shady areas of the yard.

OK, now suddenly I'm left-aligned for text again.  Wondering how that happened.  There's not much blooming at the moment.  The poppies are just about gone, and the peonies will be in just a few days.
The area in the photo above will be filled with black-eyed Susans and hopefully zinnias before too long.

Peonies are just about my favorite flower after daffodils, and this one outdid itself this year.  

After our walkabout, the quilt went inside for its beauty bath, and emerged all soft and crinkly after a short session in the dryer.   The top before quilting measured 55x72, the finished quilt is 51x68-1/2 inches.  I'm hoping to finish the other similar quilt later this summer.  I think the grandkids will love snuggling under these bright cheerful quilts when they visit next.

As for the new blogger, I much prefer the old version, so much easier to navigate, but I'm very grateful to my blogging friends who have posted tips on how to navigate this new quagmire.  Some have found uploading photos to be cumbersome and excruciatingly slow.  Out here in the country we only have access to HughesNet, the speed of which is sporadic at best, so that part hasn't been much different than in the past.  

We're supposed to enter Phase III next week, depending on the whim of our state dictator.  Wondering if life will ever reach some semblance of the real normal again, or if this is the never-ending year of the oxymoron.  Nuf said about that!

Quilt on dear friends!  Faith over fear!

Monday, May 25, 2020

May Mini and Miscellaneous

A quiet holiday weekend at home.  We invited a couple of older friends from church to our place for Friday fish-fry take out from our local restaurant.  They too are tired of the unending isolation and gladly accepted, bringing with them this gorgeous bouquet.

So very thoughtful and beautiful, especially since not much is blooming outdoors at the moment, even the dandelions in the lawn have gone to seed.  We had a wonderful evening eating, chatting and reminiscing about better days.

The weather has been warmer and even sunny several of the past few days, enough so that the side porch has been scrubbed, the bistro table set out, and my latest little mini resides there now.  Here it is, along with the very last of the daffodils and tulips from the yard.

As you may have guessed this mini mat is another of my 2012 FMQ practice pieces that I wanted to save to hopefully remember some of the designs.   Now bound and made useful in other ways too.

So many feathers, I love them, don't do many now because my eyes aren't good enough to track back on the previously quilted curves anymore.  Maybe someday.  I was finally able to get an appointment with the retina specialist for early June, so we should know more about the prognosis after they have done all their testing.

We visited one of the local nurseries last week, and I fell in love with this hanging basket - tuberous begonias.  I've never had this variety of begonia before, hope I can keep them blooming all summer.  Aren't these flowers just luscious!

They remind me of slices of fresh summer peaches. Yummy!

Another piece of positive news, we've been given the go-ahead to restart our quilt ministry at the church fellowship hall this week, as long as there are not more than 10 people, wearing their masks, etc. etc.  So very happy about that!  We have plenty of room to meet all the guidelines so we're good to go. That will lift so many spirits.

I'll link this post with Wendy at The Constant Quilter when she posts her end-of-month mini roundup later this week.

Happy quilting, and Memorial Day barbequeing!

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Diamond Jubilee Quilt - the beginning

I've followed with interest some fellow bloggers who have made Jubilee quilts to commemorate their 50th birthdays.  Being long past that auspicious occasion, I wondered if there were any Diamond Jubilee quilts out there.  I spent an evening in the company of google and learned the following:  that a diamond jubilee can commemorate either a 60th or 75th anniversary or birthday.  Breathing a sigh of relief, as I'm also long past the former and approaching the latter at seemingly the speed of light.  There is a quilt pattern marketed that is named Diamond Jubilee but I found no mention of a diamond jubilee quilt made for the purpose that I had in mind.

There are several of us in the quilt ministry who either are 75 this year, or will be next year, so I asked who would be interested in making a diamond jubilee quilt of their own choosing, that we could do as a special project.  At this point my friend Lois and I seem to be the only ones, though since the group hasn't met since early March, there may be some others who will join in when we resume.  Lois has already begun her quilt, an applique medallion surrounded by pieced blocks, the pattern name I've long forgotten.  The quilt I had in mind is this one, from the book 19th Century Patchwork Divas' Treasury of Quilts by Betsy Chutchian and Carol Staehle.

I've drooled over this quilt since first seeing Cathy's version (Sane, Crazy, Crumby Quilting) that she completed late last year.  So, I bought a used copy of the book, the templates, and after raiding all my stash and scrap bins accumulated a huge pile of potential fabrics which sat in the way in their large 24 inch bin on the floor for several months.

And last weekend I finally pulled a couple fabrics and began cutting pieces. 

Oh yeah, this is going to be fun!
Playing around with auditioning a few potential backgrounds.  And that center circle definitely needing to be trimmed just a smidge so it will lay flat.

And here's where I am as of this morning, center circle trimmed and repressed, ready to be basted and hand appliqued.

I think my goal will be to make a sunflower block every two or three weeks until there are enough to make a good size quilt (may well not be quite as large as the original).  And I'll wait to add the various background fabrics until all the sunflower circles are pieced.  Right now I'm contemplating making 13 rather than 18 sunflower blocks, and adding an outside border or two for a square quilt.  Time will tell.  One thing I've learned is that cutting those tiny pieces with my smallest (and original) rotary cutter is extremely hard on the joints in my wrist, so it will definitely not be a project done quickly.  And that's OK with me, this is meant to be a fun as well as challenging project!

It is snowing heavily as I write this, with more snow in the forecast for several days ahead.  Bah-humbug!

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

One last April Finish

Earlier this month with all the epi-panic-isolation-orders-stay-home edicts, the thought went through my head one sleepless night (and haven't we all had those this month) that if I should contract the virus and leave everything behind, what quilt would I most regret not having made/finished.  Morbid, I know, but ...   And the answer was my three-year-old grandson's big-boy bed quilt.  So, three weeks later, start to finish, here it is, not the most original of design or the fanciest, but after all it's going to a rough and tumble three year old!

The sun broke through around 8:30 this morning  and the temperatures were above freezing!

and just a bit closer view:

The dog wanted in on the act:

It was such a nice morning that we took a little walkabout on the property.  Want to come along?

Can you tell not much is in bloom besides the daffs?!!

But then there's this - overwintered in our little sunroom, looking better than it did all last summer - go figure!

And thus endeth April, and good riddance I say.  And on with the bright new blossoms of May!

Monday, April 27, 2020

Mini Post with a Monthly Mini

It must be nearing the end of this interminable month since I'm seeing the beginning of monthly mini quilts being posted. Wendy at the Constant Quilter encourages us every month with a beautiful mini (or several) of her own, and I'll link to her end of the month post when that comes online.

My mini for the month was actually begun sometime back in 2012 during the Free Motion Quilting Challenge hosted by SewCalGal.  This tiny offering was the better part of a practice piece done that year, now cut down and bound for a 6 inch square mug rug.

The reverse side

I'm happy that a few of the best of the practice pieces from that challenge were saved, albeit in a plastic bag on the floor of the closet, since this kind of intricate free motion quilting is a thing of the past for me.  These days free motion quilting consists of following marked stencils or very forgiving meandering which tend to be easier for my eyes and sore wrists. 

So glad this April of Our Discontent is drawing to a close.  May we all be blessed with open businesses and an abundance of warm sunshine in the coming month!

The ultimate morning comfort food - the daily latte

Friday, April 24, 2020

April One Monthly Goal and other Progress

April OMG link-up is open!

Time to link up with Patty at Elm Street Quilts One Monthly Goal for April.  My goal this month was a simple one, to get final borders added to my Sherbet Jumble quilt top.  And here they are:

And a bit closer.  Photos taken on yet another dreary, rainy April day.  Too warm for snow, although we're expecting 2-3 inches (again) on Sunday, in a sad continuation of the spring that never was.

I think that narrow raspberry stop border livens things up a bit.  I like it. 

The top finished at 75 x 88-1/2 inches.  While waiting for my batting order to arrive I'll go through the stash totes and find something that will work for a backing.  I'm planning to machine quilt this one since it will eventually become a donation quilt.

In other quilty news, the HST "ribbons" have become a finished top for an eventual table topper. 

The red floral fabric was just barely enough to manage the narrow sashings and stop border.  The top looked OK at that point but a bit smaller than I had hoped.  Then I discovered this outer border fabric, so sweetly old-fashioned looking, and there was exactly 10-1/2 inches by WOF.  Just enough for a border with only a scrap left over.  Love when that happens! 

This little top measures 28-1/2 inches square.  I'm leaning toward hand quilting this one, again need to find a backing and see if there are any scrap pieces of batting that are large enough. 

Friday night fish fries are a western New York institution that we love.  We're fortunate to have a small restaurant in our tiny village about 3-1/2 miles from home that has a wonderful fish fry, with the option of several types of potato, 4 different ways they can prepare the fish, and a really yummy cole slaw.  They offer take out or delivery service and have managed to remain open in these trying times.  We do our best to support the few small businesses in our area.  And the icing on the cake is no cooking or clean-up afterward required! 

I hope you are all doing well weathering this storm, and keeping the hope of summer's sunshine to allow us back outside our homes once again. 

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Of Blizzards, Blursdays, and Borrowing

Yesterday the late afternoon weather bulletin indicated snow was heading our way, and indeed this morning we awoke to about 3 inches of fluffy white, and 15 degrees!!  The daffodils that had already opened looked very sad, and I fear for everything else that is just beginning to leaf out. 

Cynthia at Wabi-Sabi Quilts nailed it yesterday when she called those nondescript days between Sunday and Saturday "Blursdays."  Seems we don't know the date, the day of the week, or even month of the year if looking out the window at the continuing snow is any indication.  I made a solo trip to the church to layer and pin the grandson's quilt top late this morning, and the visibility on the way home was less than a quarter mile with the heavy blowing snow.  The temperature had moderated to a balmy 28 degrees however.

Inside the sewing room this week, I've been rummaging through all the bits and bobs stashed in every corner and at the bottom of the closet.  Found a bag with several saved pieces of old FMQ practice pieces, nothing special but a bit too nice to be thrown away.  So, those have been trimmed down to eliminate the worst parts and into roughly rectangular or square shape, scrappy binding found and they're ready for finishing off.  Photos to come.

Then Grace at Citymousequilter posted earlier this week an intriguing way to set HST's, and heaven knows I have a ton of those stored in swiffer boxes around here.  It took an entire afternoon and beginning to stitch them together before I totally had the hang of which way each one should be turned, but here is the first iteration on the design wall, awaiting stitching.

Fun, yes?  Since taking the photo I've added a couple more rows at the bottom so the resulting little quilt will be a bit longer than wide.  I commented on Grace's blog post that I wanted to "borrow" the design, and she replied that she herself had borrowed it, so I'm not sure who may have originally designed this layout.  I do like it though, and it could make some fairly quick and easy donation quilts with larger HSTs when we're finally able to restart our quilting ministry.  Our governor has just extended New York's stay-at-home order to May 15, so it won't be anytime soon, sadly. 

I hope you are all faring well as we continue along this bumpy road.  As I watched the poor woman in the grocery store this morning in her attempt to obey the latest mandate to wear masks in public places, I think I should try to resume making face coverings to pass out to those in need.  Hers was made of two layers of netting and held onto her face with strips cut from (now banned in our state) plastic grocery bags!  Two weeks ago I was the only person wearing a mask while grocery shopping, this morning nearly everyone in the store was wearing one. 

Stay safe, stay well, and above all stay positive!!   

Friday, April 10, 2020

A big-boy quilt in the making

Still trying to stay focused and busy, and now that it's been snowing and blowing for the past two days, I'm feeling more like winter is settling in again, though far too early.  Maybe we will come to know this as the Spring that Never Was. 

It seems our three-year-old grandson has finally decided that it was far past time for him to be climbing out of his crib, and mom and dad are now getting used to the fact that there is no more containing this little adventurer.  It was always a mystery to me that he hadn't climbed out of his crib before this, because heaven knows he's been dancing on the dining room table and climbing everything else since he was around 18 months old.  Anyhow, the time has come for this guy to have his own special big-boy-bed quilt.  So, this is what I worked on this week when not hand quilting on Quilty 365 and Joseph's Coat II:

Quilt top finished:  check

Piece backing, and prepare binding:  check

Cut fabrics for coordinating pillowcase:  check

Tomorrow's job will be trying to interpret the instructions saved a few years ago for a "burrito pillowcase."  I recall they are not difficult to make, though the instructions failed to totally click when I read through them quickly this afternoon. 

Quilting this will have to wait until I'm able to find a good batting sale again, hopefully in a month or so. 

My blogging buddy Lizzy at Gone to the Beach always has such fun posts featuring her seasonal decorations, and her latest post nudged me to at least attempt a bit of springtime/Easter decoration around here.  So tonight I dug out a couple of vintage embroidered table runners to brighten the dining room for the next few days.

Yeah, other than Christmas we don't do much seasonal decorating.  The only bunny in the house is a stuffed one that our dog dearly loves, so it 'decorates' the living room floor along with his other stuffed animals most days!  Thinking about bunnies reminded me when my son was around a year old I made him a large stuffed bunny with fake fur, pink felt lining his floppy ears and all.  Can't recall what I used to make the bunny's tail.  Wonder if that still exists, will have to ask the kids this weekend.

Wishing you all a very Happy Easter!

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Finding my Focus

Like so many others, these past few weeks have been ones of unrest, worry, and inability to focus.  And I for one refuse to call this a 'new normal' for it doesn't bear any semblance of normalcy in the lives of any of us.

I've been missing my evening big-stitch quilting in the hand-held hoop while watching reruns of NCIS LA and a couple other favorite shows.  There has been nothing in that hoop since Westering Women was finished last month.  And, though I've been making a bit of daily progress on my gigantic Quilty 365 project, it is too large to move into the living room on the floor hoop stand (because that's where the dog and his rambunctious master play), and the quilt is just too large to easily work with the hand-held hoop.

One day last week I made a solo trip to our church to use the fellowship hall tables to pin Joseph's Coat I and II in hopes of getting them machine quilted and finished this month.  The more I looked at them, the more I knew at least one really needed to be hand quilted, just as much as I needed to have an evening project!  Remember this Joseph's Coat II top from last summer?

After hooping it up, I went in search of a good thread that would blend with all the colors, and found these which I had set aside after winning the little set from Wendy at Wendy's Quilts and More, probably more than a year ago.  

I'd actually forgotten about them, but aren't they just perfect?! Just waiting for the right project!

This is going to be such fun, and so relaxing, just organic unmarked straight(ish) lines and stitches just a bit wobbly.  Seems my eye is such that I can't keep stitches straight anymore, no matter how hard I try.  But the resulting hand quilted texture will hide all the irregularities. Definitely not quilt show-worthy, but meant to be fun quilts for the younger grands to snuggle under when they stay over at our house again, hopefully by this summer.

Some of my first evening's progress from yesterday:

And this was all it took to give me back a bit of my energy and focus!  No rush, no deadlines to have these two completed, just some blissful hand work to erase all the daily tension and worry.  (Can you tell I've already pretty much decided that Joseph's Coat I will need hand quilting too?)  We quilters don't ask for too much do we?  Probably just as well anyway.

Linking with Wendy's Peacock Party here.

May you have a blessed holy week, and remain safe from the virus.