Friday, December 30, 2022

End of Year Stitching and Finishes

 Hello friends,  

 It's been a busy week here in the sewing room.  Right after Christmas I recalled that the week between Christmas and New Years seems to be when home fires begin occurring in our rural area, and that we had no finished quilts in our ministry bins.  So, on Monday afternoon I started some simple quilting on two donated tops that we had recently layered and pinned.  Sure enough, a couple nights ago a local family lost their home to a fire.  The family was not at home when the fire started and all are safe, but sadly their pets perished in the blaze.  The two quilts are now bound and ready for donation as soon as we learn the dropoff locations for donated items.  The two finishes, with thanks to Nann for the donated tops:

Finished size 53x71 inches

Finished size 60x80 inches

In the midst of quilting these two, the dual feed foot on my Janome suddenly developed a glitch, and now refuses to stay connected with the main feed dog mechanism.  The foot itself seems to be ok, so I'm thinking the issue is in the back of the machine itself, no doubt requiring a visit to the sewing machine repair center 25 miles from here.  Hopefully not too expensive a repair, and I'm especially hoping the machine doesn't need to be shipped back to the factory and I can get it back home quickly. Always something ...

In other happier news, the 2022 Christmas quilt top is finished and awaiting a backing and sandwiching for hand quilting in the new year.  Top measures 68x77 inches.

A few closeups of some of my favorite fabric squares:

I only had one square of this sweet feature fabric

Quirky mushrooms

I had hoped to complete the hand quilting on my red and white log cabin quilt and have it bound and finished by year's end, but outside of a miracle, it will be another few days before that is accomplished. The most recent progress photo from last week:

Our weather is considerably better than last week, as we're in the midst of a thaw, and the ice in the driveway is slowly disappearing in the 50 degree temperatures.  Hoping it will last through the weekend as my brother-in-law is bringing his homemade lasagna for our New Year's Day dinner!  All I need to do is set the table and make a simple green salad.  Now that's a holiday in my book!

May your new year be blessed with good health, joy and peace.  

I'll be back early next week with my historic panel top when Lori posts her linky party.

Monday, December 19, 2022

Country Christmas

Christmas week, the gifts are wrapped, cards sent, cookies still in the planning stage, and in the midst of it all a new Christmas quilt started!  Several weeks ago I spotted this inspiration quilt by Amber at Gigi's Thimble blog. The soft colors and super-simple piecing appealed to me after the angst of putting together the top for the historic panel challenge (to be posted soon).  I've been hoarding saving a few pieces of older French General fabrics waiting for the perfect pattern.  Scrappy leftovers from other Christmas quilts, a treasured piece of Jason Yenter Yuletide fabric, and I was cutting squares in no time.

No better time than the holiday season for some simple peaceful piecing fun! 

Initial layout for about half of the quilt.  Quite a few blocks were moved around as sewing commenced. My blocks were cut at 5" with a planned layout of 15x17 blocks for a good size throw quilt.  I've been stitching the blocks into horizontal rows, then combining two rows together.  Hoping to be ready to assemble the double rows into four sections before sewing the whole together.  Maybe tomorrow.

Here's what was left of the second left-hand layout on the design wall when I quit sewing on Saturday.

I'm loving the soft hand of the French General fabrics, and thinking of using the one large piece in my stash for the backing to keep the soft cozy feel of the quilt.  This one will definitely be on my hand quilting queue for next year's evening stitching.  

After last Christmas we made the decision to not bother with a tree anymore, and have just decorated the dining and living areas of the house with lights and some treasured pieces from many years ago.  I packed up a box of ornaments for my son's family but have kept a few that we can use in bowls, and have a treasured handful hanging from the simple dining room chandelier.

A few of our treasures that remain ..
The far left Santa I've had for probably 40 years, the wooden handmade Christmas train purchased at a craft fair in Oregon-probably 10-12 years ago.

The wood trees were made by my late father-in-law about 40 years ago, the two hand-painted Father Christmas figures made by a friend 35 or so years past.

Large nativity from Liberia purchased at a silent auction in Oregon; the partial nativity at the right is one my mom had for many years, origin unknown.  Little cornhusk angel was a gift from my children when they were young.

Little carolers purchased at Fred Meyer in Anchorage, Alaska about 45 years ago; the barb-wire star made by one of our church families several years ago.  

Some of the many fabric ornaments I've made over the past few years, about to be wrapped and given to some of the youngest members of our congregation on Christmas Eve.

It has snowed lightly all day today, we probably have a couple inches accumulated by now.  The local road crews are very faithful at keeping the roads sanded and plowed, for which we are extremely thankful.  

Til next time, a blessed Christmas to all.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

A Mini for November

 It's not Throwback Thursday, but today I'll share a mini quilt made several years ago, I believe before joining Wendy's wonderful Monthly Mini Roundup.

This is called simply Pieced from Lois's Scraps II.  

Over the years my friend Lois has brought little baggies of leftover pieces from various quilts she has made, and we issued a challenge for our quilt group to take some of the scraps, make a little quilt, then pass along the remainder from the baggie to someone else.  I think only one other person participated beside myself, and this is my favorite of the minis made from Lois's scraps.  There are also several full size quilts that I've made from her scraps and abandoned projects.

The cake stand blocks are made from her leftovers and I added the cheddar/gold fabrics from my own stash.  

The cake stand blocks are 4 inches and the finished quilt measures 16 inches square.  I hand quilted it in light yellow thread.

The back is from a feed sack.  A little easier to see the quilting here. The photo dates this little quilt to fall of 2018.  It has hung in our dining room since it was finished.

You can visit Wendy's blog at The Constant Quilter to find other lovely monthly minis posted on the last day of each month.  

A bit of snow in our forecast for tonight, but then warming again by weekend.  We have had an unusually warm November, and unlike other parts of western New York very little snow.  Yay for clear dry roads!

p.s.   I've had difficulty leaving comments on a number of blog posts lately.  I apologize for this but Blogger seems intent on making it more and more difficult all the time to be sociable with our blogging friends.  

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

A November Finish

Finished on Friday, gifted on Sunday to a church member about to undergo major surgery, this is the simple Autumn Squares quilt, for lack of a better name.

I quilted it very simply, stitch in the ditch on all the squares, then diagonal serpentine lines in all the narrow strips and across the squares.  

It has been difficult to find time to sew this year, but yesterday I finally had an NBS (nothing but sewing) day and have nearly finished the sawtooth star border on the historic medallion quilt.  No photos until the top is complete, at this point it is about 63x63 inches.  I'd like to add one or two additional borders to bring it up to at least 70 inches wide, or perhaps 72x80 inches, which will make it a good usable size.  

In the meantime a few more photos of the Autumn Squares finish.

The back, which didn't photograph very well.  It is actually a soft golden buttery yellow print.  Selvedge is marked Jane Word 1996 for Fabrics by Spectrix.  I had never heard of that company, have you?

We had a lovely Thanksgiving at our younger daughter's home, and are currently enjoying lots of turkey leftovers as I made a turkey breast with all the trimmings on Sunday afternoon.  I love a few days of just heat-em-up meals, don't you!?

I'll try to be back tomorrow with a mini quilt - an older one from before I joined Wendy's Monthly Minis Group.  Til then, have a lovely day!

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Fall - going, going, but not yet gone

Once again, it's been a while since I've posted, and things probably won't change much for the foreseeable future.  But all is mostly well here, except for our continued lack of energy post-covid.  

We've had a spectacular autumn display of color in this part of the state. One of the best years since we returned to WNY.  I'll share a few photos taken a couple weeks ago on a somewhat hazy afternoon, just before an expected rainy spell.  At that time the maples were near peak.  Now they have faded and the more subtle hues of maroon, golds and bronzes of the oak forests have taken over.  I think I almost find the more subdued colors more inviting, there's a special softness about them that sings to my heart. 

So, without further ado, a few scenes from our yard:

I typically don't do much if any decorating for the season inside the house. Thinking on why that is, I came to the conclusion that it's because this house exudes autumn all year long  Many of the walls are paneled in knotty pine , the drapes are a small bittersweet hued check, and the somewhat eclectic furnishings are mostly antique or vintage pieces from family or local thrift/vintage shops.   We did pick up a few small gourds on our recent trip to our favorite old barn/farm stand to stock up on plenty of winter squashes, etc.  Earlier this summer we received a gift of 'fruit of the month' and the first shipment arrived packed in a little wooden crate too lovely to discard, so it was pressed into service as an autumn gourd backdrop.

More hickory nuts and a few bright leaves have been added since the photo was taken, and then today while cleaning up the side yard my husband brought in the last two sunflowers, tiny, now in a little bud vase until they fade.

Shall we talk quilting now for a bit?  I'm still plugging along, however slowly, on the historic panel challenge.  Long since gave up any hope of having it completed by the November deadline, I'm just concentrating on enjoying making each block as time permits.  Here are a few of the latest sawtooth stars that will eventually be added all around the center panel.

The quilt is quickly outgrowing the design wall.  

Thinking this quilt may eventually go to our second grandson, who just completed his Army basic training this week.  But we'll keep it here for awhile first, until he's settled a bit more in life.  Hard to believe he's all grown up now, seems like yesterday he was a toddler learning to throw spiral passes to his dad when he was just 2 years old!  He hasn't given up his love of football in the meantime, and played every year of junior and senior high school.  How time flies.

Til next time, hope all is well with each of you!

Friday, September 16, 2022

A Simple Donation Top and Panel Progress

 Our quilt ministry bin(s) of completed quilts is empty, and it was time to make up a couple more tops.  Here is the first one, made up of smallish pieces recently donated by one of our group who is downsizing her stash.  I'm calling it Autumn Squares for now.  At 52x70 inches, it will make a nice throw or single bed size quilt.  

Yesterday dawned crisp and clear and this photo was taken shortly after the sun rose over the mountain.  We've had quite cool nights of late, this morning's temp was a chilly 39 degrees.  We're seeing more and more color in the leaves and the morning dew keeps the lawn wet until well into the afternoon.  My favorite season of the year is just getting underway!  The canning kettle is put away and I'm ready to get back to some serious sewing again.

What has consumed much of my stitching time over the past month is the historic panel challenge by Lori of Humble Quilts earlier this summer.  From strips to four-patch squares, to 36 patch blocks, here's what 732 one-inch finished squares look like surrounding my panel.

The original panel before adding any borders.

While I could just add a small outer border and call it finished, it isn't currently a very useable size at 38x39 inches.  A wall hanging except we don't have any more wall space large enough without taking something else down, and not really suitable as a table topper either.  So yesterday the fabric bins all came out of the closet for a good rummage through.  Aside from practically no blue of an appropriate shade or pattern, I did find some reds and tans that may help finish this off nicely.  I'd like to see the finished size at least 50x65 or so.  We'll just have to see what happens, and no promise to have a completed quilt by November - a finished top is probably the best I can hope for.  

Hand quilting is chugging along at a slower pace on the log cabin quilt.  I try to quilt during the evening on days when my eyes are still able to focus on the work at that time of day.  It's slow work but still my very favorite finish for any quilt.

Til next time, wishing you a beautiful and peaceful weekend.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

One more finish for the camp auction

 Another month has gone by and I'll admit it's been difficult finding time for anything but the absolute necessities of life of late.  And it's tomato canning season already.  Despite an abysmal start, having covid and Lyme right at planting season and never having a chance to weed the garden plot, our tomatoes and peppers are thriving and the romas are outdoing themselves with big beautiful fruit, the best we've seen.  I guess benign neglect can have its benefits, lol!

There is one small finish to write about, can I call this my August mini?

The little Asian quilt was completed last week. I wish I could say that I'd pieced and machine embroidered the top, but it came to me from Nann at With Strings Attached who had gotten it along with some completed quilts at a rummage sale. I decided to lightly hand quilt this one since machine quilting designs eluded me and didn't want to have to rip out any big ugly mistakes.  Maybe one case where hand quilting was probably faster than by machine!  And it was fun to quilt this on the floor hoop, a little bit every afternoon for a couple weeks.  Finished size 35x35 inches.

The backing and binding fabric:

In the floor hoop now is the circus baby quilt, though it remains untouched.  And for evening quilting with the hand-held hoop when the temperature allows is this log cabin top:

Also have begun working on Lori's (Humble Quilts) historic panel challenge.  Keeping it simple hopefully so it can be completed by the November deadline. Thought I had a few photos of the big pile of red, cream and blue pieces pulled from the scrap bins and now cut up, but you'll have to wait until something more is stitched onto this piece to see the glorious mess!

We've had a bit of rain in the past week and the cold front that came through late yesterday brought us a cooler night with much lower humidity.  So appreciated.  Hope all is well with each of you.

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Puffins and Penguins is a Finish

It seems like I've been away from blogging for a long time,  and I guess it has been.  Recovery from covid and Lyme disease took quite a bite out of my energy level, and that is still not where it was before they struck.  But I'm finally back to doing a bit of quilting and have finished another donation quilt destined for the annual camp benefit auction.  

"Puffins and Penguins" - the second edition of black and white triangles finished at 72x72 inches.  I'm thinking of billing it as an I-Spy Quilt for All Ages, there's a lot going on in many of the prints.  I do like working with the equilateral triangles, though when cutting directional fabrics every other cut results in an upside down pattern.  Not really a detriment though since if the quilt is flipped around on the bed, there's always a lot of prints that read right side up.  

I think I prefer seeing it with the black triangles pointing up, don't know why.  

There are a few older prints in  this, dating likely to the 1990s, though I think most are newer.  I think that little medical/stuffed animal print in the top row in the above photo might be the oldest one. You can probably spot it if you enlarge the photo.

I really lost interest in the hand quilting project started early this year.  It sits on the table next to the recliner untouched now for several months.  Not sure why because I really liked this little top.  Thinking maybe it's time to set it aside for a bit and pick up something else for evening hand quilting.  

Yesterday I dug out this small top I received last fall and found a backing fabric and got it pinned and put into the floor stand hoop.  Finally, I'm finding joy in hand quilting again!  Nothing fancy, just some curving lines to hold things together.   The beauty of this top is in the piecing and machine embroidered motifs. Working on it in the afternoon when the light is good. This will also go to the camp benefit auction this year.  At 35 inches square I should have it finished soon.  

This is the entire quilt top:

As I pinned this it felt like the quilting would be difficult as most of the fabrics are batiks and the backing fabric is slightly heavier than usual.  But thankfully the needle is going through surprisingly easily, one stitch at a time.  Really happy I chose to hand quilt this rather than attempt to figure out a good machine quilting design for it.

The garden is growing, especially the weeds of course.  Some critter came by and ate our first banana pepper plus most of the plant.  We have cucumbers almost ready for harvest, thankfully there are plenty of prickly leaves protecting them.  Tomatoes will likely begin ripening in August and hopefully we'll have jalapeno and banana peppers for the salsa we like to can.  Blueberries are ripening now, we'll freeze any that aren't eaten immediately.  Gibbs loves to wait while I pick them and chow down on the less than perfect ones.  He would probably eat them right off the bushes, except these are very old and large bushes now and the berries are all too high for him to reach (thankfully).

I'll leave you with the prettiest blooms we have right now.  A couple years ago Barbara from Cat Patches sent me a few seeds from her purple poppy plants.  Her plants did not survive for a second year, sadly, so I didn't expect much when I planted the seeds last spring.  We had a few rather scrawny plants that each had one blossom and that was it.  Well, those few blossoms cast their seeds all alongside our back porch and we ended up with these beauties this summer.  This is at the northeast corner of the house, getting only an hour or so of sun each day, with a lot of snow and ice all winter.  Unlike the red poppies, these apparently don't like full sun.  Who knew?!  

Full moon this week.  I love when the nights are clear and the moon shines in the bedroom windows. Somehow sleep comes easier under the light of the moon, and that's where I'm headed soon.

P.S. Blogger is suddenly not allowing me to reply to individual comments on the blog post page, so if I do not have an email address for you I may not be able to reply.  But, I appreciate your comments whether from old blogging friends or those of you who might be visiting for the first time.  Thank you!