Tuesday, October 25, 2011


This sweet little bluebird arrived in the mail last week from my Secret Santa, Mary in Ontario. It was part of an online swap for which I made a Christmas banner for Tricia, who lives in England and is crazy about Christmas. She received her banner today and promised to take a picture which is great because I forgot to take one before I mailed it.

She asked how I made it, and it was quite easy and fun, really. I was inspired by Tibetan prayer flags, so I got out my Dear Jane triangle ruler and bought a zig zag blade for my rotary cutter. I fused two rectangles of Christmas fabric together and simply cut the piece into a triangle. When I had made a number of them, I made a long strip of binding and sewed it across the tops. A little embellishing, and voila!

Last week I also mailed out all the basket blocks for another swap that I was hostessing. There were 16 participants, so I went to the post office when I thought it wouldn't be busy. I love the helpfulness of the staff there, and, although a line formed almost immediately, Nancy just calmly took care of each package in turn. Most had postage already on them, but some people wanted delivery confirmation and it made sense to check to see if there was enough postage. Most of the people in the swap have already received their blocks and are happily moving them around their design walls. I have some fabric I'm going to use to set them with, but I'm putting it all in a bag to take to quilt camp in a couple of weeks. It is really nice to read of everyone's enthusiasm for their blocks which will make some sweet quilts.

On Saturday I received a nice fat squishy package of Friendship Swap blocks. There were 21 "Prairie Flower" blocks from various people in the US, Canada, and England. Each has "solid" green and floral fabric surrounding a center signature square so that when they are laid out, they look like a carpet of flowers. After laying them out, I decided to make a few more so that I can have 6 rows of 5 blocks. I tried a variety of settings, but they look pretty just set block-to-block so that's what I'm working on now. Photos... eventually!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Baskets and more

I've been quite busy lately but not with very interesting things. This past week, I helped with a Health Care Update program at the library one night - set up chairs, helped set up the sound system, handed out cards for questions to people arriving, etc. Only about 20 people came, but it was a great program by two very impressive young women putting the Governor's single payer health care program together.

Friday Paul and I joined our neighbors Tom and Dolly for a trip over to the Burlington Country Club for lunch with friends of theirs. It poured all the way there and back, but I enjoyed chatting with Dolly in the back seat. Saturday, Paula and I headed out bright an early for the fall Green Mountain Quilters Guild meeting in Bethel. It was a good meeting. I'm finding it easier to take the minutes now that I know a few people. The workshops were on wool applique and using a bleach-resist process to create very interesting effects on solid fabrics.

Over the last few days I've been juggling 6" basket blocks since I'm the hostess of a basket block
swap for the Friendship Swap group. The guidelines stated that the baskets needed to be of the brown family but the contents could be any color. Almost all of the 16 sets that came to me met the guidelines, but I was in a quandary about this purple basket with brown handle. When I asked people if they were OK with a purple baskets almost all said it was. Quilters are so flexible! I will be mailing these out in a few days to everyone. I am already imaging the looks I'll get from other customers at the post office.

Meanwhile, I started a new quilt - grays, creams, and hot pinks. The background is a sweet print that reminds me of a summer dress. I'm making Shoo Fly and Star blocks but am not exactly sure where it's heading. Still, it's fun to play with these fabrics.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Blocks of the week

Now that I'm finished with the pink and brown quilt, I'm using Civil War fabrics to make the weekly blocks in the "virtual bee" organized on the Friendship Swap group. The "bee" calls for 6" blocks, but I'm enlarging them to 8" to fit in with the Barbara Brackman blocks of the week.

Last week's block was "rosebud," for which I used a greenish print just for the tips. I have learned that green fabric was hard to get during the 1860's, so little bits of it will go a long way in this quilt. As I made this, I was thinking back on Sandra Dallas' recent book The Bride's House. The main character made and wore a distinctive green dress that made her stand out in her little mining town.

This week's block is a "sawtooth star," with a four patch in the center. I love being able to use up some scraps this way.

This afternoon, I finished the Brackman block for last week, which was all applique. Will take a photo soon. This week's block is a five pointed pieced star, that looks like it should be either hand pieced or appliqued. The latter's for me!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Virtually Pink and Brown

I have wanted to make a pink and brown quilt for a while, so when someone in the Friendship Swap group suggested a "virtual bee" with a block of the week, I decided to raid my stash. I also traded some fabric with Elaine who had had enough of the pink she had used in a previous quilt and is on to batiks in blues and greens.

About mid-way through the year, I realized that the blocks really went nicely with some fabric I "inherited" from Tante Wil, who passed away in 2003. I have been chipping away at her UFOs all this time. Six very meticulously pieced log cabin blocks have had me puzzled. No matter how I arranged them, I couldn't figure out what she had been planning. There was about a yard of her pink and brown fabric left, so I decided to use it in setting the blocks. Three of hers are in this quilt, at the top right, lower left, and center.

I like the Irish Chain setting, using scraps of brown with Tante Wil's pink floral fabric. After putting what turned out to be a generous throw together, I still have about a dozen pink and brown blocks which I will save for a baby quilt sometime. I quilted each of the "virtual" blocks individually and also went diagonally through the brown squares. Here's a picture of the back, which offers an homage to Tante Wil and states that I finished it. I am planning to send it to my cousin Marianne, Wil's daughter, who lives in the Netherlands.

Many years ago, when Tante Wil visited me, I took her along to a fabric shop and showed her my quilts. She was hooked immediately and made some lovely things. From the fabric and projects she left, it appeared she liked pinks and browns, so I was pleased to be able to honor her in this way.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


I just returned from a swing through Berlin and Barre. First stop was Lenny's where I tried on any number of shoes that did not fit. The saleswoman seemed to think I was just too fussy and ended up telling me I was looking for too "dressy" a shoe for their store. Come on! I am going to wear these with jeans and socks. Frustrated, I left without looking for jeans for Chris which I hear are on sale this weekend.

I headed up to the Berlin Mall with Joann's and Penney's, old haunts from my working days. They were cleaning the restroom near Joann's, so I headed down to Penney's where I also looked at shoes. Nothing much caught my eye. I ducked into the Shoe Dept. which has odds and ends at discount prices. Sometimes there's lots I like, but most times nothing. They had lots today, and I very easily found a cute pair of Merrills Mary Janes, black with purple accents. Guess I wasn't looking for "dressy," just "cute." The minute I put them on, I knew I had the right shoes.

Joann's also had all I needed - glitzy buttons, rickrack, a zig zag blade for my rotary cutter, braid for handbag handles, and some charms. I'll be embellishing a couple of fat quarter clutch bags with the buttons. And some of these things are for a Secret Santa swap with my online Friendship Swap quilting group. I had an amazing inspiration this morning for my "pal." Hope she likes it.

Next stop was the post office to return the shoes I bought from Zappos.com. I do like the way they pay postage both ways. I had parked right behind the Barre Opera House so I could buy tickets for two performances, an opera program with the Vermont Philharmonic on Oct. 23 and Paula Poundstone on Oct. 28. Last stop was the public library to return a book I just couldn't finish - Burn by Nevada Barr. Her "Anna Pidgeon" character investigates child sex slavery in New Orleans which is just too icky for me. I love her stories set in the national parks. I was happy to find a biography set in Africa and have another paperback mystery at home to keep me happy, too.

It's supposed to be lovely weather for the next few days, so I should be able to take some pictures of blocks, bags, and quilts to post soon!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Buried in UFOs

I seem to have a lot of projects going at once these days. Many of them are the result of an online Friendship Swap group or the Heart of Vermont Quilt Guild. For the guild, I am working on a mystery quilt that is supposed to use up stash, and I have chosen my holiday box to tackle for this project. I also have gotten together bags of fabric for a row robin in black, white and red and a "square" robin in blue and white. In the "square" robin, the bags go around monthly to a different person who makes a block with our fabrics. My Civil War blocks turned out great last time, so I am looking forward to this year's robins.

Paula in the guild is also putting together a fabric challenge which we'll pick up at the October meeting. We'll buy 3 carefully chosen fat quarters from her for $5.50 and will have until June to create a 36" wallhanging. Can't wait to see what her devious mind comes up with.

In the online Friendship Swap group, I have the following I'm waiting for:
1. 6" basket blocks due Oct. 15 - I'm the hostess for the first time, so it will be interesting
2. 12" Christmas stars due in Nov.
3. 6" Christmas novelty blocks due in Nov. (can I combine the two? will have to wait and see)
4. 9" floral blocks signed by participants (22 blocks coming soon)
I also signed up to do a Secret Santa ornament swap (due Dec. 1) and a winter mug rug due in January.

And speaking of mug rugs, a friend gave me the idea to make some for Christmas gifts and add hot chocolate, biscotti, and a mug with each. A nice idea for the adults-who-have-everything in the family. I also found a cute pattern for a little zippered bag that will be nice for travelers.

All year long, I've been participating in a "Virtual Bee" and have made blocks in pink and brown each week. Now that I've put those blocks together, I'm making weekly Civil War blocks to add to Barbara Brackman's Civil War block of the week. I have a few left over pink and brown blocks, too, which I can put together for another baby quilt, maybe for charity.

And someday, I'll finish putting together the vest I knit last winter and finish knitting the brown scarf I started this summer. Lots to do!