Sunday, December 29, 2013

BoB Challenge

Above are strips I have had been shuffling around for months with the idea that they would make a cute tote bag.  I even bought a coordinating fat quarter for handles, pockets, etc., as well as a pattern.  Then I watched a You Tube video with Jenny Doan of the Missouri Star Quilt Company with an even easier pattern.  Will January be the month that I finally get going on this?

One of the online groups I belong to is going to have a "BoB (Bag of Blocks) Challenge" this year.  Monthly, we'll post a photo of a project we want to start/finish, and, when we do finish, we'll post another photo.  Everyone who finishes will be entered into a drawing for a prize chosen and provided by yours truly.  I don't exactly know what these prizes will be every month, but I want to make them fun and interesting.  Books, patterns, gadgets, templates, FQs, etc.?  Hmmmmm......

I'm not eligible for prizes, but I want to work along with everyone else, simply because I need to!  I made a running list of UFOs on my phone the other day, and it took more than one screen to complete.  Not good!  And those UFOs keep on being created, even as I finish things.  So it would be nice to get a handle on them and not get too far behind in 2014.  If I were one to make resolutions, I guess that would be mine.  Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Pretty / ugly

It appears that Blogger will only allow me to post one photo per post.  No problem...I guess!  Above are the two fabrics I drew for the Calico County guild's annual "pretty - ugly" challenge.  Each of us brings in a fat quarter we deem pretty and another that we think is ugly.  These go into two bags, and then we all draw out different fat quarters.  These were mine this year, although the "ugly" one is a bit larger than a fat quarter.  I am thinking about doing Celtic knots on a white background.  It only needs to be about 12" square so shouldn't be too hard.  I thought that the "ugly" fabric would look just fine cut as a bias strip.  So I now have two challenges to complete for 2014.  This one's due in February, so it will be the first I work on.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Nearly insane

Here are some recent blocks I made for my Loyal Union Sampler.  The top two are from Nearly Insane - those flying geese were a killer! - and a couple from other sources.  I am really enjoying working with blue and gray.  I don't know what I'll use for sashing although I bought several yards of medium gray and plan to arrange the blocks on point like Nearly Insane.


Going around the world

In 2014 an online group that I belong to is having another "Around the World " swap.  Each person selects a fabric and sends a piece to every other person.  They make a block that represents them and mail the blocks back.  Today I cut my fat quarters from Windham's Wallflowers collection into fat eights to be mailed in early 2014.  This year, I'll be making Yankee Puzzle, offering me lots of practice in quarter square triangles!

I also made some more blocks for my Loyal Union Sampler.  Two are from the book Nearly Insane and a couple of others - one made up and the other a Yankee Puzzle.  But I'm having trouble uploading a photo, so guess I'll just upload another day. 

It's been busy around here, due to holiday preparations and tying up loose ends.  A dear friend is dying so we have spent some time with him.  It makes the holiday rather bittersweet to think that this will most likely be his last.  He is handling it in an amazing, matter-of-fact fashion, doing his own tying up of loose ends - selling his sailboat, getting rid of books and other treasures, making sure the house has less upkeep for his wife. 

The weather forecast is terrible for overnight into tomorrow, and after grocery shopping this morning I'm planning to stay put.  I would like to make a few more cookies and a loaf of cranberry bread.  We have already devoured or given away quite a bit already made!  Hope you are staying warm and cozy, and enjoying the sounds, smells, and tastes of this festive season.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Beginning hand applique class

I had a call from Dee of our LQS this week, asking me if I would do another hand applique class this winter.  I enjoyed doing two classes in the past, but I thought maybe I wouldn't commit myself again.  It's a little stressful!  Anyway, in a moment of weakness, I said I would, and we settled on two Saturdays in January.  So I've been busy testing different types of applique and making class samples.  Here are two.

The top hearts are made using freezer paper underneath, and the bottom heart is reverse applique.  I'll also spend time on needle turn since some people feel that is the "true" applique, and I have been practicing with celtic bias strips, various types of glue, and even used dryer sheets.  I am preparing some blocks so that people will be able to jump right into trying to do the applique stitch, too.  Guess I'll end up with a Valentine's Day sampler by the end! 
I finished quilting the Flying Diamonds quilt and now have "only" the binding to hand sew to the back.  But that little project is waiting til I stop working on my samples for the class... and then there are Christmas preparations, too!   Chris and I got the traditional village up this afternoon, and the tree is waiting for assembly.  I always get everything out a little at a time.  This year, Christmas seems to be coming up faster than normal.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Another tempting block of the month

Barbara Brackman is offering another Civil War block of the month, featuring 12" blocks this time and beginning January 25, 2014.  It features star blocks, and the theme Threads of Memory refers to the Underground Railroad.  A couple of years ago, she did a Civil War block of the week on her blog which I really enjoyed.  Accompanying each block was a story about someone or some event connected to the block.  I learned a lot while making the blocks.

In 2011-12, I made two Civil War quilts using Brackman's 8" blocks and a few more.  I gave one to my cousin in Holland who had just had a stroke. 
I like the way I set the blocks, particularly the big triangles using scraps in the on-point area.  I am sorely tempted to join in the BOM in 2014.  One block a month shouldn't be too onerous, and I still have plenty of scraps to incorporate.

Right now I'm reading The Spymistress by Jennifer Chiaverini.  It's about Elizabeth Van Lew, a spinster living in Richmond during the Civil War, who becomes a spy for the Union.  Also, I receive a Civl War Book of Days via email each week from the Vermont Humanities Council.   Both make the Civil War come alive and show the human side of a very terrible part of our history.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Great Thanksgiving!

We had a sunny, frigid day yesterday, but it was cozy indoors.  Here's the "before" picture:

And now to figure out what to do with the leftovers.  Hope you, too, had a great holiday!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Good reads for 2013

This year's been one for some great books, and for introductions to some really interesting authors.  I have enjoyed reading the mysteries of Elly Griffiths (coastal English anthropologist), Sara J. Henry (Adirondacks), Susan Elia McNeal (during the London blackouts of WWII), and Swedish writer Camilla Lackberg.  I'm all caught up with them, so I hope to read new offerings by each in 2014.

I enjoyed new titles by favorites Chris Bohjalian (The Light in Ruins), Jennifer Chiaverini (Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker), Sandra Dallas (Fallen Women), and Jacqueline Winspear (Leaving Everything Most Loved, another Maisie Dobbs mystery).  Most disappointing was W is for Wasted by Sue Grafton.  Perhaps I expect too much from her after all the books I've enjoyed.

The books I felt were most amazing, that left me nearly breathless, were, in no particular order:
  • State of Wonder by Ann Patchett - a scientist goes deep into the Amazon to hunt for a missing colleague
  • The Dog Stars by Peter Heller - a post-apocalyptic pilot sets out to look for other survivors in Colorado
  • The Language of Flowers by Victoria Diffenbaugh - a young woman leaves foster care and ends up homeless in San Francisco
  • How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny - latest mystery involving the very human Quebecois Inspector Gamache in which many loose threads are tied together.  How will she top this?  This was my absolute favorite of the year.  I am sorry to have to wait another year for the next book.

Other favorites this year included:
  Eight Prison Camps - Bonga - Japanese concentration camps in Indonesia
  The Perfume Collector - Tessaro - woman is left a mysterious inheritance
  The Dry Grass of August - Mayhew - travels through Jim Crow south as seen through the eyes of a young girl
  Where'd You Go, Bernadette? - Semple - just fun!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Weekend projects

I made the Loyal Unions Sampler  block of the week and a couple of Nearly Insane  blocks over the weekend.  Here's a look at my design wall this morning.  I'll be packing them up as I make more this week.
I must be in a gray mode lately because I also made this pillow out of two old t-shirts.  I got the idea from a program at my guild meeting a few months ago.  You cut out two 14" squares from one t-shirt and use another one to cut 1 1/2" strips which you ruffle and sew on.  It was very easy, and the hardest part was sewing the opening closed after putting the pillow form inside.  T-shirt fabric can be uncooperative sometimes.  The base t-shirt was a little darker than the ruffles, just by chance, but I like the effect.  I don't know if someone will be receiving this for Christmas.  I like it too much to part with just now!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Round Robin

I worked on a round robin quilt over the last few days and finally finished yesterday afternoon.  I love bright colors and batiks, so this was just the right quilt for me.

It's gotten quite large but I'm the last round, so the owner, Candy in Illinois, can leave it as is or add another border.   Mine should be coming back from Debbie in Arizona soon - can't wait!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Several projects at once

Here's a picture of what's on my design wall this morning.

In the middle is my trial block for next year's Around the World swap.  I'm going to do Yankee Puzzle, so I tried it in my Loyal Union Sampler colorway of gray and blue.  (Every trial block is in that colorway this year!)  We are all making 6" blocks representing ourselves, and since I'm one of two New Englanders in the group (and probably the only one participating in the swap since Charlotte is busy with other things), that's what I chose.  Each person will send a fat eighth to each other participant who will make a block representing her and send it back.  I ordered some fat quarters for this swap from Hancock's of Paducah, but they haven't arrived yet.  They're a little "modern," which should be fun.

The block on the right is this week's Loyal Union Sampler block, Massachusetts, and while it appears easy, my finished product is a bit ragged.  I'm hoping the sashing will help.  When I put the rest of the blocks I've made away, I noticed I have about 20 made, which is nice.   About 100 more to go!

At left is a section of scrappy border for the Flying Diamonds quilt made with snippets from the diamonds.  I spent most of last week quilting the first half and have just a little left to do.  However, I need to take out some quilting, a pain-staking process fraught with worry that I'll punch a hole in the quilt.  In this case, I used multi-colored thread and don't like the look, so I'm going back to black.

To avoid that worry, I'm procrastinating by putting the last border on Candy's very colorful round robin quilt.  But we have yoga this morning, and I want to do a little holiday shopping and baking this afternoon.  These are busy times!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Feeling productive!

Here's the quilt I made with blocks received in two block lotteries.  It's going to the Parkinsons Comfort project in honor of my Dad who has been dealing courageously with PD for 17 years.

Yesterday, I finished putting together the two halves of my Flying Diamonds quilt and started pin-basting.  I also did a few lines of quilting on one half, and I hope to finish basting the second half soon.  As I quilt one half, I use up pins which go over to the other half!  I am trying something called "Quilting Made Easy," pre-printed patterns on tear-away paper, for the large open squares.  My quilting is a little shaky, but I hope it improves as I get toward the center where it really shows.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A few photos

Last year, I participated in a swap of 6" blocks made with Christmas novelty prints.  I took them to a workshop this past summer on Circle of Nines, a way to put nine blocks together with spacers.  These blocks really leant themselves to this setting, and I'm pleased with how they turned out.  I hope my brother Axel will enjoy them!
Here are some nine patches I made for Angela in this month's "block lotto" in one of my online groups.  I'll get a photo up of the quilt I finished today whenever it stops raining!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Busy but nothing to show

I have been quilting apace lately, but nothing warrants a photo.  On Monday, I finished quilting and binding a small (18" x 18"?) Christmas table topper that I think I'll give to my brother for his new apartment.  It is made of 6" blocks from a swap.  For the last few days I've been quilting a 50" x 50" quilt made from two different swaps - both black and white with an accent color - that I'll give to the Parkinsons Comfort Quilt Project.   Will take photos of both when I find time.

I have also finished all of the 16" flying diamonds blocks and have put them together in four rows.  The borders are also almost ready to put on, but I can't decide whether to quilt it in four pieces or two.  Such a dilemma!  I'm waiting for the backing fabric to arrive and also need to go out to buy more thread for quilting.  I have been using Aurafil thread lately - it's a bit lighter than the Mettler but lasts so much longer.  Also on order are some "Quilting Made Easy" patterns for quilting the large 8" centers of each of the blocks.  I seem to have gone crazy mailordering lately, but I am determined to get a jump on Christmas.

I want to make photo Christmas cards this year but am having trouble deciding which quilt to feature.  I found a "deal" online for Shutterfly, so I need to jump on that also.  The holidays are fast approaching.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

LUS Block of the Week

OMG!  This week's block for the Loyal Union Sampler was pretty hard, with Y seams.  I think I held my breath the whole time I was working on it.  But block B-6, Charley Stokey's Star, is done!  Those are all Civil War repro fabrics this time, along with a gray blender.  I do like the mix of contemporary and repro fabrics in this quilt.

I made a few more Nearly Insane blocks this week also, but mostly I worked on the flying diamonds quilt.  I put the 16 16" blocks together in rows, and I'm now trying to decide whether to quilt it in two pieces or four.  I have the borders about ready to go on the top and bottom, too.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Latest BOW

I finished the Loyal Union Sampler block of the week yesterday and am working on a few more Nearly Insane  blocks to fill in.  Here's this week's LUS, called "Beacon Lights."

It has been a while since I worked on such a "fiddly" block, but as we said during Dear Jane, "finished is better than perfect."  I am really enjoying making these blocks.  The blue and gray combination is soft and offers quite a bit of variety. 

Mostly, I've been working on the 16" flying diamonds blocks this week.  I have six blocks left to make but at least all the fabric is cut and ready.  Rain is forecast for the next few days - perfect conditions for sewing!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A finish and a sale!

Yesterday, I finished sewing down the binding on this traditional lap quilt:

I bought the "brown" fabric on sale, thinking that it was purple, but in different light, it looks purplish brown with a hint of burgundy.  So I went back to the shop and bought the coordinating gold polka dots, for a double whammy of buyer's remorse!  I shuffled it around for a year, trying to figure out what to do with 3 yards of each.  I used it in just about every small piece I could think of, mostly on backs of things.  I still had quite a bit left.  One day, I was playing around with my "BlockFab" app on my phone and spotted a nice setting - Nine patches alternating with Shoo Fly blocks.   I like the way the two go together.  I quilted it on a grid, and now it is fore sale on my etsy shop.  I STILL have some of that fabric which I will probably use in various scrap quilts til the day I die. 

But as luck would have it, I actually sold a quilt that was on my etsy site, my first sale in a year although I have had a few inquiries.  Actually, a friend bought it as a baby gift, so I just deleted the quilt from my site and mailed the quilt out yesterday.  She had me make a baby gift before, for her stepson's new baby.  This baby is on her Canadian side, and I hope they like it.

Now to figure out what to do with the green and red batiks and the coordinating red on cream print - I have about 3 yards of each, too!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Flying diamonds

Monday, as a reward for making a number of gifts using orphan blocks, I started a new quilt.  Lisa had given me a pattern that she used a few years ago during a retreat.  It's called "Aerial Spelunker" and is based on a pattern in Two for Your Money by Jo Parrot.  I decided to use a Moda Marbles black fabric for the background and bright batiks.  Here's the first block:

My photo is a little crooked, but it shows how the bright colors float on the black, hence the name.  I have a lot of cutting left to do, but the bright pieces and the large center blocks are all ready.  There are a lot of black 2.5" squares and 2.5" x 6.5" rectangles left to cut.   I'll do them a little at a time.  It is such fun to work on something new!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Progress so far

One of my newest projects has been Loyal Union Sampler for which there is a block of the week group going on.  Along with these, I'm making blocks from Nearly Insane and maybe Just Plain Nuts, thanks to some books Karen sent me.  I have always liked the Salinda Rupp quilt and thought I might set my 6" blocks her way - on point, with sashing and cornerstones, and with half blocks along the outside.  We'll see how far I get.  I tend to get a little impatient when I do blocks of the week/month, so I thought if I made at least two blocks every time I might have enough in one year to make a quilt.  If I just do one, it will take nearly two years! 

So far the blocks have been fairly easy, but I may lag when/if they get more difficult.  Here are the blocks I've made in the last three weeks.
I'm using blues, grays, and whites and so far enjoying the variety.  Gray seems to be an "in" color these days, and the colors go along with the Civil War theme although I'm mixing contemporary designs with Civil War repros.  Loyal Union Sampler is a companion to a book by Jennifer Chiaverini that details the quilting efforts of some women did during the Civil War.  I especially enjoy her historical novels, and my favorite still is The Runaway Quilt, about runaway slaves. 
Right now our online bookgroup is planning to read Chiaverini's The Christmas Quilt, a more contemporary novel, during the holiday season.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

"Santa's" workshop

I have been busy making gifts for the holidays.  I'm usually not so organized, but I just happened upon a great tutorial for fabric boxes.  Each of these babies takes about 1/2 hour to make, out of 2 10" squares of fabric and a piece of batting.  There's quite a bit of machine quilting, but the result is really cute.  I still need to finish off the three I made with buttons and a little hand sewing, and I will probably make a few more.  They are perfect for burying gift cards with candy, or just candy, or a few fat quarters, or...

I was on a roll, so I got out all my old Grandmother's Choice blocks and started working with them in various ways.  I made some placemats and then made a reversible table runner using Insul-bright.  All of these use various blocks.  Now I still have about six 8" blocks which don't go well together, so they will probably end up being potholders.  I could just throw them in my box of miscellaneous things which I will eventually put together into a very scrappy quilt.  Anyway, I don't have anything to show for all my work - afraid someone will see what I have made him/her for Christmas!

After I make this week's Loyal Unon Sampler block, I'm going to start on a new quilt from a pattern Lisa gave me.  It's called "Aerial Spelunker" and will have brights with a black background.  Stay tuned!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Abel's Favorite

I did the second block of the week for Loyal Union Sampler last night.  So far, I'm keeping up with the group but I know there will come a time when I'm scrambling to do a whole month's worth in one day!

This was pretty easy.  Now I'm off to make #97 of Nearly Insane (working my way from the back to the front in this book).

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Rest in Peace

On Thursday, our faithful 16 year old dog, Max, went to his eternal rest.  We were there to say goodbye, and we really felt we had made the right decision.  He wasn't eating or drinking and walked very slowly outside when he used to trot happily as many times as he could.  Now our routine is way off kilter, and there is no one waiting to greet us when we come home or even come in from a trip out to the garage.  This is going to be an adjustment.  I haven't been without a pet for about 40 years. 

Max was a very popular dog when we owned the B&B.  People used to say he was "just the right size."  All the guests knew his name even though they forgot ours.  He entertained by jumping through a quilting hoop, and was rewarded by guests bringing treats.  In fact, some guests went to the Ben & Jerry's factory gift shop and got him some ice cream cone-shaped biscuits.  They told the clerk it was for the dog at the B&B.  The clerk said, "oh, that's Max, right?"

We don't have many photos of Max because he was very dark and his features didn't show very well.  We are definitely missing our friend.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

State quilt guild block

While I was busy making blocks yesterday, I decided to make the raffle block for the state quilt guild meeting later in the month.  I love red and white in quilts.  This time we are making "Anne and Andy," and it turned out so nicely that I hope I win the whole batch!

It's so cute that I'm thinking of making a few a little larger for placemats.  I have lots of Christmas batiks that might work quite well.

Loyal Union Sampler BOW begins

The first weekly block for Loyal Union Sampler was B-2, Camp Curtin, and it was thankfully easy.  I am making this quilt in grays and blues, mixing contemporary and reproduction fabrics for what I hope will be an interesting sampler.  Here's my first block:
As I work on these blocks each week, I plan to make some blocks from Nearly Insane and Just Plain Nuts (thanks for the books, Karen) to the mix.  I'm afraid I'll get tired of the project if it lasts two years.  I really don't like to stretch things out too long although my Dear Jane  years were a lot of fun.  We'll see how I do.  At any rate, both sets of blocks are 6" finished so they should all work together.  Here's Block #98 from Nearly Insane.  Thought I'd work my way backwards for a change!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Gorgeous Colorado!

Despite the flooding and the threat of government shutdown, Paul and I headed to Colorado last Saturday.  We met my Dutch sister Jacqueline in the airport, went to rent a car, and then headed to my parents' in Golden.   Just about every day was sunny, with temperatures in the 70's.  Amazing!

The first day, Sunday, we browsed around downtown Golden and stopped at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum.  The exhibit featured challenge quilts made with RMQM fabric (lovely) as well as an art quilt exhibit (so-so).  On the second day, being more acclimated to the high altitude, we headed up Lookout Mountain to Buffalo Bill's grave and museum.  On the way down, we hoped to see some buffaloes which often hang out by the interstate.  No luck, unfortunately!


 We visited Red Rocks Amphitheater and had a great lunch.  Tuesday, we visited the American Mountaineering Museum in Golden, had lunch at the Capital Grill (Jacqueline's first buffalo burger!), and did a little shopping.  Wednesday found us on the road for Colorado Springs and the Garden of the Gods.  Isn't it beautiful with Pike's Peak as a background?  Jacqueline (below right) was just amazed at the view, especially the snow.  

Thursday, we met my sister Jenny and her friend Mart for lunch at the Dushanbe Tea House in Boulder.  Although Mart's apartment was a total loss and her car needs extreme cleaning, she was pretty chipper about the whole flooding experience.  Parts of  Boulder are fine; parts are devastated.  Much of the worst flooding is north of the city, so we walked down Pearl St. and enjoyed the buskers and sun.

Friday was a surprisingly rainy day, so we visited the Colorado History Museum in downtown Denver.   Many school groups cleared out at lunchtime, leaving a relatively peaceful set of exhibits to enjoy.   You could go into a simulation of a mine shaft, open a buffalo statue to see how body parts were used, learn about Native Americans in Colorado, and learn about the Japanese internment near Granada during World War II.  Having read quite a few books about the latter, that was my favorite exhibit. 
Saturday came all too soon, and it was time to say goodbye to my family.  Dad is looking more frail, but Mom is still very vital at age 91.  Jacqueline headed back to the Netherlands, and I hope a year doesn't pass before I see them all again.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Feeling productive!

I finished another set of swap blocks today, although I ran out of the fabric I was using and had to make myself a completely different looking tulip block.  Then I finished my round on Cindy's round robin, after 3 weeks of applique!

The next package to arrive should be Candy's.  After that, my little red schoolhouse will come home.  I'm dying to see what it looks like.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Scrappy Stars

This looks fine now, but while I was quilting it, I called it "the quilt from Hell."   I sandwiched it on a very humid day and then ran a couple of lines of quilting up and down to anchor it.  I planned to do swirls all over.  It looked fine on the front, but on the back, it was all puckered.  With much groaning and squinting, I took the quilting out over two hot days.  Then I rolled the quilt up and set it aside until a "better" day (whatever I thought that was!).  Finally, one day last week, I unpinned the rest, starched the back like mad, and put it back together again.  Within a day, it was quilted on a grid and bound by machine, no problem.  It will be raffled off this fall as a benefit for the York Branch Library.  Hope a kid wins it since the back features Paddington Bear.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

A "fiddly" block

This month's Block Lotto in one of my online groups features a "Buddhist pinwheel" block.  It is supposed to end up at 12" square and use dark, medium, medium-light, and light fabrics in quarter-square triangles arranged a particular way.  This makes a 9" square that has a 1.5" border all the way around.  I decided to make two blocks, keep the worst one and send the other to Tricia, this month's "winner."  My block will go into the sampler I'm making with a navy blue background.

Finishing these brought quite a good feeling of accomplishment because there seemed no shortcut method to arranging the colors.  Each segment had to be carefully laid out.  Still, it turned out quite good if I do say so myself!  But I can't imagine ever doing a whole quilt!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Reading and applique

Some months ago, I joined a round robin group.  Mine is red and off-white with a schoolhouse block in the center.  I posted a photo so won't do so again here - I'll wait til it comes home.  Right now, I have Cindy's lovely Christmas quilt and mine is the third border, so it's getting somewhat large.  The center is 15", and with the other two borders, it's about 35" square.  I decided to add an appliqued vine with poinsettias, holly leaves, and berries.  One of the fabrics frays quite a bit, making it quite difficult to handle.  Now that I'm nearing the end of this project, which has taken a couple of weeks, I find myself wishing I had just done something less fraught with anxiety.   I hope to finish this weekend and get it in the mail to Candy who will do the last border.  Then I hope I won't receive another one until October.  I have a few unfinished projects to work on before our first guild meetings this fall.

The Heart of Vermont Guild meets Sept. 17, and already planned are a block robin, a challenge, and a mystery quilt.  Will I participate in all of these?  Probably - for the cause, as they say!   On Wed. Paula and I went over to another quilter's house and helped her sort and weed out magazines going back about 25 years.  We selected 3 bags for the free table at guild.  We left a mountain of recycling!

The Calico County Quilters meets Sept. 14, and we usually do an ugly-pretty challenge, which is fun and pretty easy.  And the state quilt guild meets in October and in preparation, I'll try to participate in the pillowcase challenge and a block exchange.  So that's a lot of projects coming up. 

It was very humid last week, so instead of sewing, I turned my attention to Louise Penny's latest book, How the Light Gets In.  I love her careful writing, her very human and believable characters, and the setting just over the border in Quebec.  It's a long time between books, so I tried to savor every word.  Still, the plot moves along and in the end, it took me just three wonderful days.

Now I'm reading something lighter, Emilie Richards' Wedding Ring, for which I will be leading an online discussion beginning Sept. 16.  Having never done that, I am taking more time than I normally would, marking passages, jotting down issues and possible questions as I go.  It's quite an easy read with some interesting characters.  Part of this online activity will involve making something as we read, so I'm thinking about that possibilities as I go along, too.  Because the characters work on quilts to deal with tragedy in their lives, I may turn my attention to mending the quilt I made with my aunt was dying.  I use the quilt a lot, so it has some torn spots which will need to be appliqued over.  IF I can find the same or matching fabric deep down in my stash.  Quilting is a journey!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Not really MIA!

I haven't posted in a long time - just busy buzzing around!  I sandwiched a sweet little quilt made with "Scrappy Star" blocks, some made by friends in a block lotto.  The pieced back has some Paddington Bear fabric (do kids still read those books?), but after I had it pin-basted and quilted a few lines, I noticed quite a bit of puckering.  So I took out all the quilting and now have to re-baste.  But it's been muggy and I need a day when I'm feeling ultra-positive.

So I moved on to other projects:  washing the [vinyl] house, visiting Jim at the nursing home, roaming the town forest, taking a quilt to be quilted by the longarmer, taking the Opera House exhibit down, working on a round robin.  I decided to applique my round, so that is taking some time.  It's relaxing, though, and the Christmas theme offers an opportunity to use a favorite green and red color combination. 

I'm also working on a new sampler, through a swap I'm coordinating.   All the blocks will have navy Moda Marbles for the background.  When I picked my fabric up at the quilt shop, I was a little uncertain about the color.  It's motley with a grayish cast.  But after I made a couple of test blocks, I think it's going to be very nice.

I finished the six 9" Ohio Star blocks I planned to make, have cut out all of the Grandmother's Fan pieces and need to applique them, and made one Pieced Tulips block.  The navy looks really nice with a lot of colors, especially pastels.  Not too many people have signed up for this swap, so I am thinking of sending a couple of yards around for the guild Square Robin this year.

I've also been cooling my heels, waiting for Louise Penny's latest mystery to arrive.  It was just published, so maybe it will arrive before I start something else today.  This morning I finished the latest in the Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths.  Ruth is a English forensic anthropologist who specializes in ancient bones and is a good character - overweight, a single mother, and with a few odd friends, including a Druid who always seems to be on the spot when she needs help.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Drum roll, please!

Here's the new Family Estate wallhanging, now in the guest room!

I made the Edyta Sitar quilt just a little smaller and added the border she uses on the one block wallhanging pattern.  It's really a series of hourglass blocks.  I enjoyed quilting details on the windows and doors and think I have finally gotten the hang of outline quilting, too. 

This fills up a blank wall that used to hold a Mariner's Compass that's in the exhibit at the Opera House.  I asked the folks there if they'd like me to come get them, and they said they don't have anything else up yet.  I am beginning to miss them.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

What a view!

Tuesday was my walking in the town forest day, and four of us and Angel the German Shepherd set off south on a trail we hadn't tried yet.  We wound around the Black Lagoon (that was its name on the map) and up a steep climb to the Holy Ghost Lookout.  It was well worth the climb.

We thought we could see the interstate from up there, and definitely saw the new copper steeple of the Graniteville Presbyterian Church and Rock of Ages' "bone yard" of granite blocks.  There used to be a Holy Ghost School connected with St. Sylvester's Church below, hence the name of the trail. 

The trip down was just as hair-raising as the climb up.  My sprained ankle doesn't make it easy, but Diane, good soul that she is, helped me down.  Our 80-some year old hiker slid but said it wasn't bad.  When we left for the walk, we all had on jackets, but by the time we came down we had all stripped to t-shirts.  We are indeed lucky to have this fun forest to explore.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Family Estate (or whatever)

I always have trouble naming my quilts.  The pattern for this is in a book called Friendship Strips and Scraps by Edyta Sitar.   There's a bed-sized quilt and a small one block hanging, both using the houses with applique.  The wallhanging is called "Family Estate" and the quilt has another name.  This is a cross between the two, with just nine blocks instead of 15, so it's a 36" x 36" wallhanging.  Where I'll hang it is still a mystery to me since we have so little wall space.  But I enjoyed working on it and am looking forward to quilting it.  It's all basted, and the binding is ready to go whenever I finish.

I took this photo before I started pinbasting.  It's a bit dark due to the gloom of the day, but that is, of course, a perfect day for such jobs.

Today I also made four six-inch block lotto blocks for Lou. 

She chose spools, which was fun because I had toyed around with choosing that last month when it was my turn.  I put the pattern in my Loyal Union Sampler box, just in case I want to make one to go in that quilt.  I'm waiting patiently for that new book by Jennifer Chiaverini coming in September, joined an online group, and have a box of blues and grays waiting.  I have plenty to keep me busy before it comes, though.

Today we also picked a batch of green beans which I will freeze tomorrow, and a zucchini which is destined for zucchini bread for the freezer.  Or maybe it will be more chocolate zucchini cupcakes which were a big hit around here.  Now I'm going to sit back down with The Dry Grass of August, a novel about the south in the 1950's, sort of like The Help, which I loved. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Four scrappy stars

It's summer and everyone is busy.  So I only received four Scrappy Star blocks through the online block lotto this month.  Either Pat, Lou, or Tricia will be the winner in August, and anyone who wants may make up to four blocks for her.

I don't mind just receiving four blocks, though, since one day I got ambitious and made 16.  I may make a few more because it's a great way to use up 2" squares, and I have a whole boxful.  This should make a lovely quilt, but I have yet to decide on sashing.  That will have to wait until I finish my Family Estate or whatever I'm calling it.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Another quilt for the etsy shop

I finished this last week but didn't get around to taking pictures and listing the quilt on etsy.  Here is my Disappearing Nine Patch Kitties quilt!
I love the pink batik binding, but I don't know that I'll ever do a Disappearing Nine Patch quilt again.  It's too hard to get the colors spread around the quilt in a pleasing way.  I spent forever rearranging them!

I haven't done any sewing today - just errands, laundry and reading (The Light in the Ruins, Chris Bohjalian's latest).  In a little while, I'll head to Sandy's for our Monday afternoon get-together, and then I'll go to the Websterville playground for a neighborhood meeting to plan the new equipment.  Tomorrow we hope to give the dog a bath, I'll clean house a bit, and then there's a meeting to plan the Democrats' summer BBQ.  Maybe I'll get some sewing time in in the afternoon, although there's a terrific sale going on at my local quilt shop...

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Denise's round robin, etc.

I joined an online round robin group but the person before me was MIA.  So after a couple of months without anything to work on, I received Denise's center last weekend.  It poured all day Tuesday, so I started working on my round, 5" wide.  And here we are! 

These are not my colors, but I enjoy doing round robins and swaps to get me out of my comfort zone. It's all packaged up to head to Candy for her round, and I will await the next one, which should be Cindy's, sometime early in Sept.  Meanwhile, I can keep working on various UFOs.

One project I'm working on is called "Family Estate" from a book by Edyta Sitar.  Pieced house blocks alternate with appliqued ones featuring fruit and a bluebird.  It's pretty easy but a perfect hand project for the hot weather we had last week.  I'm ready to put the 9 blocks together, for a 30" x 30" center, and after a little more applique, I'll add a border or two.  I envision a wallhanging since I have plenty of bed-sized quilts around the house right now.  I like Edyta Sitar's patterns which combine batiks with other fabrics.   Maybe I'll even handquilt it, but don't hold me to it!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Loyal Union Sampler

I have been waiting patiently for Jennifer Chiaverini's new quilt pattern book, Loyal Union Sampler.  It's supposed to be published September 1, and one of my online groups is doing a block-of-the-week, similar to the ones we've done for Sylvia's Bridal Sampler.  I'm all set to go - have been amassing gray, blue, and white fabrics from stash for a while.  I also have copies of two other books featuring 6" blocks that Karen generously sent me, just in case the 121 patterns in LUS aren't enough, LOL!   And for some nutty reason, I preordered the tote bag (above) along with the book.  This will be a nice winter project.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Three finishes

With 42 straight days of rain at some point during the day, it has been hard to take pictures of finished projects.  We had a cloudy morning, but the sun finally came out, so I could take a few pictures.  First, there's the Twirly Baby Quilt, which will go in a raffle basket for the children's room at the library this fall.
Next comes the Cozy Nine Patch throw, made from blocks received in a swap at my guild along with some more blocks made by Bob (he made a batch for everyone in the guild) and by me.  I used a setting from a Bonnie Hunter pattern.  This is "cozy" because I used Quilter's Dream Supreme batting, which feels like the thickness of two batts.  It's going on my etsy shop.

And finally, today I finished sewing the binding on this sampler made with blocks from a "Square Robin" as well as the guild block of the month.  I'm calling it Heart of Vermont Sampler, 2013 because it all centers around the guild block (which I designed).  I spread it out on the sofa, so you can't see the top row, but it's a good-sized square and will be great for wrapping up while reading this winter.

I quilted each of these quilts on my home machine.  The Cozy one I did in a basic grid pattern because of the thickness of the batting, but the sampler is a true sampler, which free motion, stitch-in-the-ditch, outline, and other quilting.  it was fun.  Now on to finish a few more flimsies!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Scrappy Stars

I won the block lotto in one of my online groups this month, so I got to pick the block I'd like folks to make for me.  I chose an Eleanor Burns block called "Scrappy Stars" because it appears to be good for stash-busting.  I received a block from Pat (lower left in photo) and have been making a few more.
Because I have a box full of 2" squares the centers are easy to make, and it's a trip down memory lane to put them together.  Some have been in the box a long time.  I have a bunch more ready to make in a variety of colors and figure that, when added to the blocks others are sending me, I'll end up with a pretty nice quilt.

I have run out of white fabric, though, so I'll have to go to the quilt shop this week.  A reason to shop! 

Monday, July 1, 2013


One of my favorite annual summer events is the Vermont Quilt Festival, "oldest quilt show in New England."  That is where I first saw the Dear Jane quilt and bought the book, around 2000 or 1999.  I met author Brenda Papdakis and later bought the templates and started working on the triangles which I used as a border on a quilt in memory of my Tante Jen.  I later started working on the blocks and have made several Dear Jane-inspired quilts as well as quite a few very nice friends around the world along the way.

After I looked at a few of the contest quilts, there was an announcement that Brenda herself was giving a gallery talk, so I ran right over.  She was just as I'd imagined, soft-spoken and very nice.  I wish I had taken a workshop with her when I was into the quilt.  There were about two dozen variations on the theme, and here's one by Linda from Colorado:

I love the way it sparkles.  Later in the morning, Brenda facilitated a Dear Jane Reunion, for about 100 enthusiasts who told their stories and showed finished quilts and works-in-progress.  It was heart-warming, and I continue to be impressed by the way one quilt has brought so many people together and helped so many work through problems and issues in their lives.

I did manage to see all the contest quilts, chat with people I knew, and shop most of the vendors.  One of my favorites did not win a ribbon, but I love it anyway.

It's made of candy bar wrappers.  My sister mentioned that they all seem to be empty, and I replied that they were most likely eaten while quilting.

This is a terrible picture, but it was a very intriguing Cathedral Window quilt set in a "Trip Around the World" fashion.  The blocks were about 2.5" so a lot of hand work went into this!  I probably will never do anything like it, but it sure impressed me.

As for the vendors, Sunday is the best day to go in my opinion because you could actually get into the booths.  A couple of vendors I know said that Friday was a madhouse.   At any rate, I bought fat quarters for a birthday swap, a marking pen, a 60-degree triangle template, a book about the mill girls of Lowell, Mass., with quilt patterns, a vase for my mom, and some Frida Kahlo socks for my friend Yve.  Quite a satisfying day! 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Flood watch... again

We have had a very wet spring, and the weather pattern just seems to continue.  Two days ago, the rain just poured straight down almost the whole day.  It cleared up in the evening, but what good is that??  I continue to blame it all on the new grill we bought and can't use.  Even if it's not a rainy day, it seems to start raining right around dinner time.  Today we have the all day pouring rain thing going on again.  I'll be at the Vermont Historical Society all morning and quilting and reading this afternoon.  I hope it all clears out by Sunday so the drive to the Vermont Quilt Festival won't be hampered. 

Meanwhile, we are hoping that our beloved Old Labor Hall will be flood-free.  Paul went down and helped put sand bags around crucial spots and helped install two sump pumps yesterday.  He'll keep checking all day, and when he isn't there, he'll be worrying.

I do see a bright spot on the weather map, and that is that there appears to be a little moisture over Colorado.  Usually it doesn't reach the ground there, but my mom says the mountains are now invisible due to the forest fires.  Hope the rain helps.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Ready to quilt

Despite the heat and humidity, I managed to finish piecing the back and the batting for my Heart of Vermont 2013 Sampler.  This morning, with the fan blowing right on me, I pin basted, so now I'm ready to quilt. 

This sampler includes guild blocks of the month, as well as some from the "block robin."  The center is the guild logo, and the sashing is some Australian fabric.  I had initially meant to make a totally blue and green quilt, but my friends in the block robin had other ideas for my fabric, pulling in some of the Australian fabric's color.  How smart they are!  I like it better this way.

Underneath this quilt is the almost-finished nine patch quilt which "only" needs its binding sewn down on the back.  It's so warm these days that I am debating whether to machine stitch it instead.  I'm procrastinating by beginning work on the sampler instead.