Sunday, February 26, 2012

Blue and white sampler progress

You're looking at a pizza box full of blue and white blocks, many made over the last few days. They are all sizes but should work well together. In the fall, I gathered a bunch of blue and whites for my guild's "square robin" this year. When it all comes back, I'll have eight 12" blocks made by other people to add to the blocks in this box. This batch includes Just Takes 2 blocks in various sizes, some from various issues of Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks, and others that just struck my fancy. Yesterday I took quite a few scraps ("crumbs") and made 3" four patches to fill in here and there. So this has been a stash cleaner upper-type of activity over the last few days. It is nice to see my blue box a little less jumbled as a result. Some of my other bins as pretty jumbled, too, but those will have to wait until the mood to clean up returns.

I am enjoying the Just Takes 2 project, which is a mystery quilt really, but I haven't done all of the blocks yet. Some are paper pieced, a process I don't enjoy. Right now I'm working on one that has appliqued melons reminiscent of Dear Jane.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Flimsy Friday

Several internet groups and bloggers I follow are observing Flimsy Friday, a day to get out those UFOs and focus on creating quilts from tops ("flimsies"). Yesterday was my day to finish this little table topper, begun in Flavin Glover's Diamonds That Shine workshop last summer. I used the center pinky orange as an outside border which I also pulled to the back and sewed down. I quilted it simply and hung it on the front door. Neighbors expect to see a quilt on our door, and the wreath was looking a little tired. It is nice to have a spot of color when it's gloomy out.

So today, I've been making blue and white Just Takes 2 blocks. I have a spreadsheet that I'm using to keep track of the blocks I've made. As with Dear Jane, I'm substituting once in a while. I made "Broken Dishes" rather than "Broken Heart." Some of the most recent blocks are 9" but I replaced some with 12" blocks. So far, the blocks look great, and I can't wait to get my guild round robin blocks, also blue and white, back.

A big snowstorm is predicted and I'm a real chicken when it comes to driving in snow, so I went grocery shopping at 7:15 am. It started snowing at around 11 am, but lightly, and so far, there's not enough to worry about. Maybe we have been spared yet again, although word is the ski areas are getting dumped on, to their delight.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Dinner with friends

Last night, our good friends came for dinner. They are the guys who bought Maplecroft from us, and we are happy to have gone through the whole process of selling our home, some furnishings, and the business to them. And happier still that they are doing so well. We know how busy they can get at night, but this is an easier time for them to get away. So we were pleased that they could come.

Dan had recently broken his wrist so I promised to make something that he wouldn't need two hands for. We had a tourtiere from Central Market in the freezer, and I added some mashed local potatoes and mixed roasted vegetables. I am still trying to figure out what works best with the meat pie, a French Canadian specialty, although salad and rolls also work. It just seems to need something creamy on the side. Paul likes to put a drizzle of maple syrup on, too, but I like chutney. For dessert we tried some very yummy pomegranite/blueberry frozen Greek yogurt and macaroons (my favorite cookie). They had brought a nice syrah wine, thinking the brand-name Storyteller was perfect for us.

We had a very nice time, talking about upcoming trips (Japan via Istanbul, Baltimore, Charleston), politics, religion, and community events. When we had B&B guests at Maplecroft some of these topics were off-limits, so it is nice to be able to discuss them at table now. I always enjoy an easy-going meal, lingering after dinner with good friends.

It seems hard to believe it has been three years since we moved. People ask if we miss Maplecroft, but even though the house was grand, it was a great deal of work and worry. Although we miss living within easy strolling distance of downtown and sometimes miss meeting new people, we continue to meet new people in various community activities and get downtown almost every day. All without the tedium of coffee-breakfast-room clean up every day and being available for check ins every afternoon and evening. Glad someone as nice as these two is handling that!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The "reveal"

Our Calico County quilt group met today to reveal of our challenge quilts. Polly made an iPad case out of her ugly/pretty fabrics, and only added one other fabric. Elaine made a picture frame - printed a photo of her grandson onto fabric and framed it in the pretty turquoise plus a dark blue. The back has her "ugly." Alma made a basket quilt block and used my "ugly" which was a basket weave I have been shuffling past for years. Pat got a bright yellow and a piece with faces of girls. She made a wallhanging of a school bus with the girls looking out the windows - fabulous!

The only person to bring her Stack & Whack blocks was Rebecca. I hope to get mine put together before our next meeting. I think Polly is well on her way to finishing her top. We discussed UFOs, and it seems we all have them except Polly who works on one thing at a time. Wish I had taken my camera today. Maybe next time.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Calico County Challenge

In November, my Saturday quilt group held what has become an annual challenge. Each of us brings two fat quarters - one pretty, one "ugly." We put them into bags and draw one of each. Then we make something no more than 12" square to be revealed in February. We can only add two other fabrics.

I couldn't go to the November meeting, so Polly drew mine for me. For days, I worried over what I would make with that spool fabric and the pretty burgundy blender. Then it hit me: "a quilter's bad dream."

You probably can't see the quilting in this, but it is the best part - S swirls all around the black. The back includes larger pieces of both challenge fabrics. Can't wait to show it on Saturday!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

A few years ago, I made a bunch of quilted postcards for Valentine's Day. It was fun, and I even made a get well card for my Dad that year when he was laid up. I don't know why I haven't made any more - maybe next year?

Today, Paul and I exchanged cards and chocolate. Yum! I had lunch with the ladies in the neighborhood at a local restaurant. There were about 25 of us, and I got to know a couple of newer neighbors. This is a friendly neighborhood.

After I got home, I sewed - what else!?! - and now have 10 stack and whack blocks. Two more are on tap for tomorrow and then I can start putting it all together. Paul had a good idea, which I will try. Hope you had a good day, too!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Ready for quilt camp

Today I baked a lemon Bundt cake for tomorrow's sewing day organized by one of my guilds, beginning at 8 am at the Knights of Columbus hall. There will be coffee, chili, cornbread, and we're supposed to bring our own lunches! Besides lunch, I'm bringing the Winding Ways quilt for sandwiching and the rest of my Stack & Whack block pieces to sew. I also have a bag of large solid pieces (mostly polyester) that another quilter gave me for the give away table, along with a few notions and knitting supplies. Jen is moving and cleaning her house, so I'm looking forward to doing a little grazing myself.

This a potholder I made for the local guild's March guest speaker. This year, we have divided into teams to plan each month's guild meeting, and I'm on the March team which has not really met all year. We've had conversations on the run and via email. Hope some of our members are there tomorrow so we can talk about the program which will include a slide talk by the curator of the Vermont Historical Society. We are making potholders as a thank you to her, and I'm hoping we'll organize an exchange for a drawing.

Over lunch, the state quilt guild board (I'm the recording secretary) will be meeting since we'll be holding the May state meeting there at the K of C. We can look it over with an eye toward where things will be. Our main speaker will discuss her amazing "crop circle" quilts. But how will we organize show and tell? Will there be enough room for vendors and food? And what will we do about lunch?

If I still have energy after the lunch/meeting, I'll stay for a while and sew some more. I should be doing my taxes but guess I'll proscrastinate til Sunday.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Beachy zig zag top done...

I hate to take photos of quilts on the bed because my sewing/guest room is small. But I also don't like to go to the work of having Paul take the picture (usually while standing in snow) while I hold the quilt up, until it is actually a quilt. I finished this throw (50" x 60") this morning and started piecing a back this afternoon. I'm using orphan blocks and snippets from the pink and brown quilt I made last fall. Hope to be finished by Sunday so I can give it to Lisa to long arm quilt. It feels good to send them away - out of sight, out of mind!

Lots of activity here

We have had sun and deep blue skies for three days running. Monday, it was nearly 50 degrees out and a lot of people were chopping ice in driveways and on walks. Our driveway has been clear for a while although there's a big lake at the end that freezes over every night. Last night it was around zero and today it's supposed to get up to about 20.

I have been putting together a "While Away Winter" raffle basket for the library with an autographed copy of Sandra Dallas' The Bride's House, a gift certificate for a massage, puzzles, notecards, and a bag of truffles. This is something I've been doing for a few years. It's fun but I always worry that the library staff will be burdened by another set of tickets to sell. They are always so enthusiastic, though, that I keep it up.

The other day I made a cute spring mug rug for a swap. On March 1, I'll get a name from the group and will mail it off. Since we'll be away before then, I thought I'd get it done and ready to mail, especially since I had a flash of inspiration. Can't show a photo in case my secret pal is reading this! Will show it later, though.

I packed up the small basket quilt, made last fall with swap blocks, to mail to my cousin in Curacao. I kept wondering what I could send her since they don't really need to keep warm down there. With a hanging sleeve, it can serve as a wallhanging or throw now. Hope she likes it. Cousins from Holland are visiting her now - wish I could be there as they are a fun bunch. We do keep up on Facebook, though.

Most of the week, I've been making a new quilt out of a batch of batik "fat eighths" in "beach" colors my Mom gave me for Christmas. I chose a fairly simple design of quarter log cabin blogs set straight, with a scrappy border. I plan to put the last border on today and then will take a photo. It is looking pretty and is shouting for a pieced back and large meandering quilting.

Friday, February 3, 2012

In the mail at last

A few weeks ago I posted a photo of Henk's Civil War quilt being pinned for quilting. It is finally done and on its way to Holland. My cousin has had some health problems over the last year and recently moved to a new home. So many of the quilts I've made recently have used "girlie" colors, so I hope he enjoys wrapping up in this. Many of the blocks were "blocks of the week" published by Barbara Brackman online, including that "H" which was the symbol for hospital during that time.

I did quite a bit of in-the-ditch stitching, but there are a few spots where free-motion worked. The wide band before the final pieced border includes the words Best wishes, Henk and various wishes such as Health, Happiness, Joy, Surprises, Love. I enjoy quilting samplers because each block suggests a new pattern.

I pieced the back with "experimental" blocks as well as left over fabrics, including one piece with the pledge of allegiance printed on it. Even though the pledge wasn't adopted by Congress until 1942 (and they added the "under God" part in the mid-1950s), it still fit with the patriotic theme of the quilt. As you can see, I didn't have quite enough to go around, but it is the back, after all. I have begun putting my Civil War repro fabrics away, but I can't say I won't be making another before this sesquicentennial is over. I don't generally like muted colors but these seem to draw me in anyway.

By the way, when we went out to take this photo on the back porch, Paul had to stand in the snow. It was about 18 degrees out, with brilliant sunshine. Although everyone is saying it's a strange winter due to the lack of snow, we don't mind it one bit.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Happy Groundhog Day!

Well, Punxatawny Phil says we're going to have six more weeks of winter. He saw his shadow this morning. While in many parts of the country, this would be a bad thing, in Vermont, it means we're going to have an early spring. I have seen robins around all winter long, and yesterday it was nearly 50 degrees out. Chris broke up all the ice in the driveway and the ice on the front stoop melted all by itself.

While it's snowing lightly right now at 8:40 am, it's not supposed to accumulate. This has been an unusual winter - frequent little bursts of snow, very little accumulation. Cross country skiiers and snowmobilers are upset, but the ski areas can still make snow. Chris says no one he knows has been ice fishing either. Oh, well. No matter what the weather, every day is a good day for quilting!