Thursday, December 24, 2015

Plans for 2016

Recently, I've been thinking about how I tend to make mostly samplers in one form or another.  I rarely make the type of quilt that requires making one block over and over again.  If I do, they are usually scrappy so that every block looks a bit different.  I especially enjoy making medallion quilts with a center block and various borders.  All of these samplers are fun for me to quilt, too, because I can vary the quilting as I go along.  However, they do sometimes have an unplanned look to them.

While I'm not abandoning samplers for 2016, I'm going to try to make at least one planned quilt in 2016 and have been working on it over the last few days.  As I mentioned in my last post, I'm making 6" Birds in the Air blocks with a green floral Jinny Beyer print, a deep black and a somewhat ugly gold.  They can be turned a variety of ways, but I think I'm going to set them on a zig zag.  Will take a photo soon.  Just hope I have enough green to make a good-sized quilt as it has been discontinued for a while - it was in Dee's sale "attic" when I bought it.  That's the trouble with buying fabric you like without having any particular purpose at the time.

In preparation for a swap for an online group in 2016, I made a few sample blocks.  Two I like, and the third (below) is too low contrast, so I will set it aside.  The swap of Lover's Knot blocks should be fun, and signups start January 1 and end February 1.  When I ran a swap for the same group a few years ago, we made quite a few red and white nine patch blocks, enough for me to make a couple of nice crib-sized quilts.  One went to my mom to give as a new baby gift, and the other went to the Parkinsons Comfort Project.  Obviously, this will result in another sort-of-sampler for me, but I like the bright colors we'll be using.

My new year's resolution for 2015 was to use orange in every quilt, and I must say that I enjoyed the challenge and grew to like orange.  I don't know if I'll use it every quilt from now on, but I have a better appreciation for the "pop" it gives.  I do have an orange set out for the Lovers Knot blocks and generally make a few extra when I'm swapping anyway, just to make a bit larger quilt.

My resolution for 2016 is to clean out my quilting/guest room which means:
 - eliminate (or use) fabrics at the bottom of my stash tubs,
  - get rid of any patterns I don't think I'll ever use again
  - weed out books and magazines that contain things I don't plan to make
  - get rid of notions, especially thread, I don't think I'll use.
I started yesterday and have a tote bag full of purple and orange fabrics, along with some patterns to take to the next guild meeting.  And some more purples and oranges are going in the mail to Angela in Illinois to use in quilts for her graduating kids.

Happy New Year to all!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Decorating done

We put our Christmas tree up on Wednesday since Chris had the day off.  It was, as has been the case lately, a gloomy, chilly day.   The holiday lights really help brighten the days up.  It isn't really that cold outside - around 40 - but somehow it is raw, especially without sun.  I made a bunch of cookies over the last few days - sugar, cranberry/orange/nut, and chocolate crinkles.   I'll make Chex Mix over the weekend.  Tomorrow some neighbors are coming for dinner, so I'll make a French-Canadian tourtiere.  I'm sure the Habitants didn't serve chutney with it, but I think it will be nice anyway.  I'm also planning some hot spinach triangles as appetizers.  Should be a nice evening.

I'm working on a "Birds in the Air" quilt with a lovely Jinny Beyer green fabric with gold accents on a black background.  I don't usually make quilts with multiples of the same block and tend toward medallions or samplers.  So this is a test.  When I get bored, I'll work on something else and then cycle back now and then through the year.  I am planning to arrange the blocks in a zig zag pattern and am curious to see how it turns out.

Besides that quilt, I have cut out some of my Around the World swap blocks for 2016 and still am working on the appliqued border for Paula's round robin.  It's been so dark out that I can't see well enough for handwork, even at mid-day, with lamps and my sewing glasses on.  I have until mid-January, so I hope this weather pattern shifts soon.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Lookin' a little bit like Christmas

I got busy and made a few batches of cookies yesterday.
First on my list, as every year, were Karen's ginger cookies.  They are delicious and a big hit in this house.  The recipe makes so many cookies that I even froze some for after the holidays.  One of these days I'm going to try to freeze the balls of cookies before baking.  I hear you can just put them on a cookie sheet and bake frozen, just for a little longer.

I also made some chocolate cookies with mini M&Ms.  They taste good but are a little gooey.  Tomorrow I hope to get some more baking done, after genealogy club in the morning.  On my agenda:  cranberry-orange and chewy sugar cookies.  Friday afternoon I hope to get started on the Chex Mix.  Chris would rather I made that than anything else.

We decorated the tree today, too.  Photo... eventually!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Last finish of the year

Today, I put the last border on my Around the World swap quilt for this year.  Quilters from the US and Canada contributed blocks made with Indonesian blue fabrics I sent them.  Each block represents the maker in some way.  They were 9" blocks, so I alternated them with snowball blocks, and the scraps from making those blocks were used as flying geese in the corners.
I am going to be binding the quilt with the same fabric as the snowballs, but for now everything is hanging in the closet for 2017.  When I get around to it!  I did put together the binding and put it into a bag from the quilt shop, so it's all hanging together.  It's going to be a nice throw when done.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Good reading

According to Good Reads, I have almost met my goal of 65 books read in 2015.   Just a few to go, and I suspect I'll meet that goal by New Year's.  Looking over the list, I see quite a variety.  In between some of the more literary titles, I really enjoyed some mystery series and a couple of "chick lit" books, too.  Here are my favorites:

All the Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr
     Absolutely the best.  I'm sorry I waited until a week or so ago to read this.  I was dragging my feet because it was on the best seller list all year.  It tells two stories - one of a blind young French woman and the other of a young German radio operator during World War II.  It's scary, thrilling, amazing, and literary without being stuffy.

A Duty to the Dead - Charles Todd
      This was the first book of seven in the series I read this year, featuring English nurse Bess Crawford during World War I.  I wonder what she will do when the war ends.

A Man Called Ove - Fredrik Backman
     Swedish retiree and widower Ove tries to kill himself, but something keeps coming up every time.

Catfish Alley - Lynn Bryant
     A Junior Leaguer uncovers a great deal of important history when she decides to include the black part of her Mississippi town in an annual Civil War tour.

Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? - Roz Chast
      A graphic novel about the ends of her mother's and father's lives.  Very touching, with funny moments and all too real ones.

The Storied Life of A J Fikry - Gabrielle Zevin
      My second favorite of the year.  A sweet story about the owner of a small bookshop and the publisher's representative.

No Time On My Hands - Grace Snyder
     Written in 1962, this is a memoir of a woman who grew up in a sod house on the plains and all the changes American life over her lifetime.  She was an amazing quilter, but she hardly talks about quilting.  It was "just something she did."

Murdered Sleep - R A Harrold
     Sequel to the mystery set on an island in Lake Champlain, this has actor/detective Wade working in Washington, DC, during the Gilded Age.  Race issues play a large role in the plot.

The Magician's Assistant - Ann Patchett
     What does the assistant do after the magician dies?  

Kitchens of the Great Midwest - J. Ryan Straddal
     Snippets of the life of a young chef.

Come Rain or Come Shine - Jan Karon
     Father Tim and the whole gang return as Dooley finishes veterinary school and gets married.  It was so nice to be "home" again with these wonderful characters.

The Last Midwife - Sandra Dallas
     A midwife in a late 1880's Colorado mining town is accused of murdering a baby.  The accuser is encouraged by a new young doctor.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A couple of finishes

I finished binding one quilt and put labels on both of the ones I have finished lately.

This quilt was made with swap blocks from two swaps - 6" churn dashes and 6" nine patches.  I had to make one more churn dash block, and I have some nine patch blocks left over.  I'll probably use them as potholders one of these days.  I quilted it on a grid, down the center of the sashing and in the middle of each block.  Then I used a smaller grid on the plain blue squares around the outside because they were a little wavy, being on the bias.  They flattened out with quilting, though.

The "Jack's Chain" below was a little small, so I added some more 6" churn dashes and a few split nine patch blocks for the borders.  That center was a killer and I worried about getting it to lie flat while quilting.  But it did, thank goodness.

Both of these quilts are going to the Parkinsons Comfort Project, for people in Vermont and New Hampshire.  I'll mail them after the holidays so they don't get lost.  With the holidays arriving, I have a lot to do, but it sure is nice to work on a project here and there.  So today I got out another batch of swap blocks to see if I could get them together.  These blocks are from quilters all around the world, so it's the "Around the World" quilt, using Indonesian fabrics.

I have some snowball blocks to set between them and then will make a border or two.  I have some hand work to do also - appliqueing and quilting, but it has been so gloomy lately that I just can't get to them.  Hope to do that if the sun comes out.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Flannel Friday

We had a nice Thanksgiving with friends with plenty of food, especially delicious pies, both raspberry and apple, a la mode.  I like to stack the dishes up to do after everyone leaves.  Somehow, it is a nice way to relax and reflect on a good time.  Afterwards, I sat and read.  I'm in the middle of a good book, All the Light We Cannot See, and it is amazing.

Yesterday we headed over to Montpelier for Paul's last book signing.  The merchants were promoting shopping downtown as Flannel Friday, so we both dug flannel shirts out for the occasion (actually, I dug, he just wore the usual!).  Bear Pond Books was teeming with people, and the old floors creaked and groaned.  A few people stopped by, and the events coordinator, Helen, couldn't have been nicer.  One fan asked for a tour of Green Mount Cemetery which holds gravestones of some of the interesting characters in the book, so we'll be doing that Thursday if the weather holds.

It's going to be a busy week with meetings, the neighborhood ladies luncheon, and the annual library Friends/trustees staff appreciation dinner.  I have party favors for the two meal events - little holiday cookie cutters tied with red bows.  Somewhere along the line I need to wrap gifts to mail to Holland, Colorado, and elsewhere.  I have done most of the shopping (including copies of Montpelier Chronicles), but do I have enough wrapping paper?  I'm avoiding the mall this weekend, but the dollar store may see some business before the weekend is over.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Mega Quilter

Viking Mega QuilterLast week, my friend Betty came over with her Viking Mega Quilter.  She wanted me to try it out because we had been talking about machines with larger openings for quilting.  This one has a 9" harp and is quite heavy.  I compare sewing with this vs. my Viking Rose as to driving a truck vs. a Honda Civic.  Both have their uses, and the Mega Quilter has some nice features.   It cuts the thread when you finish a seam, the stitches are nice and even as you go along, it goes over multiple pieces of fabric and seams easily, and you can fill a bobbin without unthreading or changing where your needle is.  The downsides include having to go way down under the machine to get at the bobbin, not being able to predict when you'll run out of bobbin thread (the Rose has a clear view window), the sheer size of the machine and its table (where would I store it?), and it's quite complicated to thread.  I use the table my machine sits on to cut also, so would I eventually need to get yet another table for cutting or the machine?  
Betty said she would consider selling it to me, but do I really want it?  I certainly like the 9" harp, and quilted my Jack's Chain quilt easily in two short days last weekend.  And that included machine stitching the binding.  I have two more little quilts to quilt, so I asked Betty if she minded if I kept it a little longer.  By the time I finish, I should know what I want to do.  But every day, I change my mind.   The three little quilts are going to the Parkinsons Comfort Project which likes its quilts to be well quilted because they will most likely be washed often.
Guess it's hard to make a decision at a time of year when I am buying a lot.  There are a lot of other things to think about:  Thanksgiving;  Paul's book signing on Black Friday in Montpelier; finishing our Christmas letter; and wrapping and getting packages ready to mail to Holland, Colorado, and elsewhere.  I started working on a border for the guild round robin yesterday.  It's hand appliqued and, thank goodness, not due until January.  But it is a nice project for this time of year and offers good opportunities for reflection.  Happy Thanksgiving to all who read this!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Recent projects

My sewing machine was smokin' last weekend with lots of little items finished and ready for gift giving.  I made seven mug rugs, six decorated bar towels, three star ornaments, and a little cosmetic bag.  Two of the mug rugs were made of napkins I found in an antique shop last week.  They are authentic Delft blue, maybe purchased by someone who visited Delft on vacation, bought them as a souvenir, and was downsizing.  Their loss is my gain!

I am going to a craft show this weekend (the one I'm selling wares in), so I hope to find a few other nice things to give to family and friends this Christmas.  I already have a pretty good collection of stuff, but the men in my life are still my biggest question.  I doubt I'll find anything at craft shows for them, but I keep pondering what might work.  I think a trip to the Carhart store is in my near future.

I also started working with my stash of swap blocks this week.  First, I used some 3" nine patches to make a small "Jack's Chain" center medallion.  It's a traditional quilt design but challenging since there are lots of "Y" seams.  I only had to add one more 3" block to the group to finish the medallion.  It took a lot of steam and some hand sewing to get it to lie flat.

I also have quite a few 6" churn dash and nine patch swap blocks, but decided just to add some of the churn dashes to the border.  At left is the medallion with some of the blocks on my design wall.  I now have surrounded the medallion with churn dashes but still need to make the finished quilt a little longer than it is wide for the Parkinson's Comfort Quilt Project.  When I finish the top, I'll put the remaining swap blocks together with sashing, perhaps on point.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Another gorgeous day

It was sunny and in the mid-60's this afternoon, so we took another walk up to the Grand Lookout.  Every time we go, we say "this will be our last trip up here," but on the way down today we thought we might be lucky enough to get another walk up if we have just a little snow.  It ought to be really pretty then.  In this photo you can see an area of oak trees that are hanging on to their leaves.  Many of the beeches also had their leaves, a little lighter brown, on.

After we got home, I put the last border onto my "Insane Squares" quilt.  It was from a fall issue of American Patchwork and Quilting, so their quilt had black, oranges, and golds.  This one uses lots of different purple, blue, and turquoise batiks, mostly from a "Tonga Treat" package.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find yardage of the darker Tonga blue batik, but I got something that I think works pretty well.  It was a bit of an intense project, since I wanted certain colors to fall in various sequences.   Now I'm waiting for the backing fabric to arrive in the mail, and then I will drive down to NH to deliver it to the longarmer.  Maybe next week?

I'm glad to be finished, though, as I have a long list of UFOs, including one pretty good-sized BoB (Box of Blocks) from two swaps.  I also want to sandwich my "Atlantic Crossing" wall hanging so I can start hand quilting it.  The back for that is in the dryer... oh, gosh!  Better get it out!

Sunday, November 1, 2015


Having made all 16 of the 16" blocks for my Insane Squares quilt, I have sashed two rows and have two more to do before putting the center together.  I bought some coordinating batik for the border and ought to get busy on that.  However, I felt I ought to work on two round robins first, one in the online group and the other for my local guild.  I finished a very simple "Hexies on the vine" border for Cindy's red, white, and black quilt yesterday.  The previous borders made the quilt quite busy, so I thought a simpler one would help give "the eye a place to rest," as my friend Paula says.  It's now ready to mail to the next person, which I'll do Monday.

Now it's on to Pat M's first border on a sweet rectangular center featuring a Japanese lady.  She included a whole lot of Asian prints with hers.  The problem is:  which shall I use?  I decided to make a simple hourglass block using quite a few of the prints since the background of her center is a plain off-white.   It shouldn't take me as long as Cindy's border since I'll do it all by machine.  First, though, I need to clean out my machine which has been running at top speed for a few weeks without cleaning.  I find it gets pretty linty with either Aurafil or Mettler threads, yet those work best for me.

After I finish Pat's border, I hope to finish the Insane Squares quilt early in the coming week.  I ordered some backing fabric and then have to decide where to take it for longarm quilting.  With all those squares, I think something curvy would look best.  Polly is happy with a new longarmer in NH, but there's also one in Fairlee who does nice work.  Since these folks are both new to me, I think I should talk to them face-to-face, an hour's drive in either case.

Friday, October 30, 2015

A few things that bug me

Here's a list - you may not agree, but it's OK!  We all have our "fingernails scratching on blackboard" moments, and these are what trigger mine these days.

1.  Headline news on TV that has complete disregard for the journalistic standards of who-what-why-when-where-how.  This morning, TV news reported that a girl had caught the Bubonic Plague from a flea bite while camping.  Was this in Vermont?  Should I worry when walking in the town forest?   Then, last night, TV news (Fox) reported that an airplane caught fire at a Florida airport.  Paul's sister was flying back to Florida, so I listened closely.  What airport?  Hopefully not Fort Myers.  The plane was taking off, so I decided not to worry too much.   I was awfully glad to see Pat's photo upon landing, though.  Why aren't TV journalists more careful?

2.  The proliferation of poor punctuation, especially the use of the apostrophe s ('s) for the plural or possessive just about everywhere, even the newspaper which ought to know better.  They use style sheets (New York Times or Chicago), or so they tell us.  No, it's not "horse's for sale."  It's "horses for sale," unless, of course, they mean "horse is for sale" which they rarely do.  It's OK to use "it's" for the contraction of "it is" but that's the only time "it's" is appropriate.  Along with that goes the annoying habit of some to use "it's" when meaning a possessive.  Example: "it's children" means "it is children," but not "its children."  There is no apostrophe for the possessive of "it," people!

3.  The fascination with political polls at this stage of the game of electing a president.  Who cares if Trump is on top now and others are at the bottom of the pile today?  Tomorrow it will likely be something different.  And in November, 2016, it will be even different.  I don't pay a lot of attention right now, even though in neighboring New Hampshire, politicians are swarming the state.  (Note I did not say "politician's")

OK.  I'm going to crawl back under my rock for a while.  Actually, I'm going to do my volunteer shift at the VT Historical Society this morning, have lunch, shop for groceries, and sit down with a good book (with correct punctuation, of course!).

Thursday, October 22, 2015

A new quilt in process

Can you imagine this quilt in purple, pink, and blue batiks?  It was on the cover of the October issue of American Patchwork and Quilting, and it's what I've been working on these days.  I'm calling it "Insane Squares" because there are a lot of 2" squares to be cut.  Even though some of it is strip pieced, those strips still need to be cut into 2" substrips.  It's turning out quite nice with a light fossil fern background.

The 16 blocks measure 16" and, believe it or not, there's sashing with cornerstones between them.  The result is that large expanse of white, perfect for showing quilting.  I don't have enough of any one fabric to make the solid border, but who knows?  I may just have to run out and get something.  Or maybe I'll use more of the fossil fern.  Some of the batiks came from a package of Tonga Treats and others came from another quilter in Australia in trade for postage in a swap.

As it grows, I'm thinking that perhaps I'll take it to a longarmer for quilting.  Hope that Lisa will be ready to take new quilts by the time it gets done.  It feels good to start and, hopefully, finish something in one stretch of time.  Many of my quilts are done in dribs and drabs over a year or so.  My Around the World blocks have been in a pizza box for months as they straggle in, and the fabric for the alternating snowball blocks also awaits.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Guild meeting

I went to my local guild meeting last night and, while everyone else was showing and telling big quilts, I brought a couple of the little zipper bags I've been working on.  The one on the left uses my latest favorite shape, the tumbler, and the one on the right shows one of the candy wrapper bags I've been struggling with.  I love the tumbler shape - it can be used in many different ways, is easy to cut, and goes together really nicely.  This bag uses little 2.5" charms in a minipack I got ages ago.  The fabric line, "Hubba Hubba," was so cute I couldn't resist.  I used them to make two little bags which I will try to sell at the fall craft show.

I saw the candy wrapper bag online somewhere, and there was a pattern in "Block" magazine.  Our family has been struggling (!!) with the high volume of M&Ms that have come into the house with this new endeavor.  I made two bags using the pattern in "Block" but I had to throw one away, because the stitching ripped as I was turning the finished product right side out.  The pattern said to quilt the laminated candy wrapper but I think it would be better to use fusible fleece on the lining and quilt that.  At least that's what I'm going to try next.  Yes - we are eating another round of M&Ms, both regular and dark chocolate.

The meeting also included demos of making flying geese two ways and using the Tucker Trimmer.  Having taken a class with Deb Tucker this summer, it was a good review.  I do love her laminated technique sheets, and my Atlantic Crossing wallhanging (waiting for me to hand quilt it) was started in her class.  Going to guild always energizes me which is bad since I get home at nearly 8 pm.  So I had a little wine to help me wind down, and this morning I'm ready to get back into the sewing room!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Beautiful fall weather

It took our foliage a while to peak, but when it did, WOW! Yesterday was so lovely - sunny, clear blue sky, temperatures in the upper 50's - that we just had to take a walk.  We ran into quite a few bikers on the trail along with a photographer who no doubt took some amazing shots.  He was headed to the Grand Lookout (at right) as we were coming down.

We are going to miss these walks in the forest.  Hunting season starts soon, it's going to get colder (we've had frost the last few mornings), and walking will grow increasingly iffy unless we're right downtown where the sidewalks are sanded and salted.  We did take a walk downtown earlier in the week on a rather gloomy day, and that was fun, too, since we stopped in various shops to look at and buy antiques (small), books, and bagels.

There is nothing like Vermont in fall, though.  We feel very lucky to live here.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Fall foliage is here

Last Sunday we walked up to the Grand Lookout by the Town Forest to see how the foliage is developing.  Toward the east, it was looking quite nice with reds and golds, but closer to Barre, it was still fairly muddy.  It was a nice walk anyway, and we hope the foliage will be at peak this weekend.  Usually, the leaves are coming down by now but it was the warmest September on record.  We've had some frost lately, so the leaves are definitely turning.

Tomorrow I am hoping for a nice drive down to Lebanon, NH, when I take my friend Ben down to meet the bus to Logan Airport.  I'm looking forward to the hour's drive with Ben who is a booklover and lives in the San Francisco area.  And maybe we'll be able to take another foliage walk on Sunday for more color.

I have spent a productive week quilting.  I made two table runners in fall colors for the craft sale and a couple of little bags.  I discovered the joys of working with tumblers - how easily they go together, and how cute the results!  I swapped out a bunch of nine patch blocks for a swap and got those in the mail to their owners.  Those blocks are really nice, and I can't wait to use them.

I also worked on a row for a row robin I'm in.  The owner of the quilt was hoping we'd use some rows from the Row by Row Experience that quilt shops around the country participated in this summer.

I decided to make our local quilt shop's row which featured a pieced background over which there's applique.  The pieced background was fairly complex, but the applique was truly difficult.  Because there were so many pieces, I decided to use fusible web rather than applique them by hand.  And cursed all the way through, reminding myself constantly why I almost never use fusibles.  Well, it's done and I can relax.  It will be a long time before I make anything with fusible applique again.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Round robin center

Can't share a photo of Pat's row for the row robin that I just finished paper piecing.  Love it, though.  Here's the pineapple center for my guild round robin, finished a few days ago.  Note that there is some orange in it, in keeping with my resolution to use orange in everything this year.

Storytime in the forest

Yesterday I started making Pat's row for the row robin and, crazy as it seems, decided to paper piece my blocks.  What was I thinking!?!  I like the way paper pieced blocks look, but I sure hate taking the paper out.  I made a pineapple center for the guild round robin last week (forgot to take a photo) and swore I wouldn't paper piece again.  So much for that!  Pat's is a great row robin - Christmas theme in red and white fabrics.  I love it.  I got a few blocks done between grocery shopping and the farmer's market.

Then it was off to the forest for the fall storytime with our children's librarian/award-winning bagpiper.  And what fun everyone had!
 Twenty preschoolers through first graders, parents, grandparents, two dogs, and others who love stories followed Ian up into the forest.  As you can see, it was a gorgeous day with temperatures in the 60's and not a cloud in the sky.  There's a clearing not far up where I had set out tarps to sit on, and there are also some blocks of granite for sitting.

Ian read my favorite version of Little Red Ridinghood, by James Marshall.  When the hunter finally gets Red Ridinghood and Grandma out of the wolf, Granny says, "It was so dark, I couldn't read in there!"  After that story, we learned a song to go with a story about dressing the Big Bad Wolf.  He had brought a cardboard wolf to dress which the kids loved.  It was a great afternoon, capped off by some more paperpieced blocks when I got home!

Thursday, September 24, 2015


The gigantic rainbow scrap challenge quilt is done.  What a relief to be able to move on to other projects.  Of course, there are many.  Immediately on tap are:  a center for a guild round robin (two out of four pineapple blocks paper pieced yesterday); a row for an online row robin; raffle blocks for the state guild meeting; and something else I've forgotten.  I also have a couple of projects waiting in project boxes.

Meanwhile, Paul's book has been published and he'll be doing some public programs to launch it.  I get to operate the Power Point slides.  Saturday I'm helping with a storytime in the town forest, and our last Tuesday morning walk is this week.  In a couple of weeks, a friend and I will start a genealogy club at the library, a good winter activity.  Friends need help, too, with transportation, meals, etc.  One is moving next week and another returns from surgery/rehab tomorrow.  Never a dull moment at our house.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Way too busy!

This is a crazy week which began with having my teeth cleaned Monday.  That evening, my jaw started to wobble and feel bad, and so far it has been a little difficult to chew.  I think I stretched while at the dentist, so now I have to take it easy while eating.  My neck and shoulder are sore, too, so I have been taking Ibuprophen to sleep.  Ugh!

Yesterday, we had a nice long walk in the forest.  The weather couldn't be more beautiful lately - warm days, cool nights.  We walked over the Mainline Trail, following old railroad beds through the abandoned quarries.  A few weeks ago, I noticed some seed pods on a tree that looked like beech, but I was told they are hazlenuts and that squirrels love them.  They really must because there are none left.  Instead, we did notice this odd seed pod, the red speckled blob in the middle.  It turns out to be a seed pod for jack-in-the-pulpit.  Quite interesting!  We will have to look hard for the flower next spring.

Last night was our first quilt guild meeting of the new year, and I talked about the gift bag challenge for the coming year.  Next month, anyone who wants to participate will bring a gift bag, which I will put into a brown paper bag.  Then each person will pick up a brown bag on the way home and make something quilty inspired by that bag.  Should be fun.  There's also going to be a round robin, and I can't resist!  I have already decided not to do the mystery quilt for the year as I never like what I end up with.  We'll see how my round robin turns out - I still have to make a center block and think it may be a square of four scrappy pineapple blocks.

Today we ran around, too, so I didn't get a lot of stitching in.  I do have two sections of the big rainbow scrappy quilt put together and hand sewed the backs together this morning.  Hope to get a little quilting in tomorrow and then, maybe put the next section on.  I am soooo anxious for this quilt to be finished, but it will be another week or two, I think!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Gift bag challenge

Every year, our Heart of Vermont quilt guild has a challenge, and whenever I hear about one, I pass the idea along to our leaders.  An online quilting friend told us about a challenge her guild did, and we have adopted it for the coming year.  Each person gets a gift bag and then has to make something quilted that is both inspired by the bag and fits inside it.

I was asked to write up the guidelines, and then Paula gave me a bag to come up with a sample.  Bless her, she chose a bag that's purple, blue, and pink florals.  I noticed some lacy bits about the edges, too, which made me think of my stash of hankies.  I got a few out and incorporated them into this table topper.  I made a few dimensional flowers as accents and also machine quilted it.  It will be nice on a hall table.  The original challenge had everyone buying a bag from the guild, but we decided it would be just as much fun if everyone brought in a medium (not too big, not to tiny) gift bag.  We'll put them into plain brown bags and let people draw them so it will be a real challenge.  At least the final product doesn't have to be very big!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Maine and buried in quilting

It's been a while since I blogged.  First, I was putting together my blocks from the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.  I have decided to try to avoid blocks of the month because I just get sick of getting the project out, working on it, then putting it away.  And I get antsy for finishing at some point in the process.  So that is my resolution for the future.  Let's hope I can stick to it.

At any rate, this rainbow quilt is going to be quite large - queen-sized, perhaps.  So I put three sections together and am quilting it that way.  I really do like to quilt samplers since every block can be a new experience.  I can try out different techniques with both the walking foot and the free motion one.  I finished the center which was made of 36 blocks (wow!) and now I am quilting the two sides - another 36 blocks and borders.  When I finish the quilting, I will put all the sections together, make the last two borders, put them on, and then quilt.  It will probably be another month before I finish!

In between all this, we took a little trip to Wells, Maine, which was really fun.  Our friend Christine owns a cottage a stone's throw from the ocean (on Ocean Avenue!) and usually goes all summer.  We visited her last year.  This year, due to health issues, she hasn't been able to go much so has encouraged her friends to use the cottage.  We feel so lucky!  It's on a quiet street and the back deck overlooks a salt marsh.  One morning, I drank my coffee and watched the birds zipping around.

We took a long walk at the Wells Reserve with its several miles of hiking trails, visited the Seacoast Trolley Museum, and spent a nice morning at the beach.  I read Louise Penny's and Sue Grafton's latest books, and we had some nice seafood and other meals out.  It was very relaxing, and the weather couldn't have been better.

Happy Labor Day!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Sweltering and knitting

We are having the hottest days of the summer, and our window sills are being repaired and painted.  I feel very sorry for the guy doing it.  My sewing room air conditioner had to come out of the window for a few days, so I feel sorry for myself, too.  

No sewing for me, so I started knitting a pair of socks because I didn't want to move much.  I'm trying a new method, using two short sets of round needles.  I got the pattern out of a Debbie Macomber book called A Good Yarn.  Don't know how a near-beginner could actually take this on as it involves using fingering yarn and size 1 needles.  Well, I may finish in time for next winter, but I do love the yarn from Knit Picks. 

I have been putting together the blocks I have been working on all year through the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.  I had made so many (80?) that my project box wouldn't close anymore and  I realized the 9" blocks would make a pretty good-sized quilt, even without my least favorite colors - brown, gray, black.  I have four panels to put together - maybe - whenever the AC returns to the window of the sewing room.  My dilemma is whether I should attempt to quilt it in sections or sew all the sections together for longarming.  While I make up my mind, I am putting some borders together.

Cooler weather is in the forecast for tomorrow night - let's hope so!  Meanwhile, tomorrow we are heading to the Clark Institute of Art in Williamstown, Mass., to see a special Van Gogh exhibit.  Should be fun!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Photos - finally!

I finished making my six Rainbow Scrap Challenge blocks today and took a picture.  The color of the month was lime green, and my box of blocks is quite full.  The next few months the colors are brown, gray, and black which aren't my favorite colors.  I'm going to lay them out one day next week and see if they are ready to put together or if I really should make some in those dull colors to round it out.  The original quilt used 6" blocks and mine are 9", so I may just go with these.  Next decision:  what color to use for sashing - gray, white, cream, something bright?

Thursday I finished the "Atlantic Crossing" top.  It measures about 40" x 40" so I plan to hand quilt it this winter.  It really wasn't difficult, but finding the fabric to finish was.  I had some lovely, soft P & B textiles maroon paisley on cream that is, of course, out of print.  After I gave up looking for it, I bought some cream on cream paisley by the same company which went fairly well.  At any rate, I'm pleased with the way it turned out.  The pattern is actually called "Atlantic Flyway" by Deb Tucker, but I kept calling it the other name, so that's what's sticking.

This weekend I also made a row for a row robin I'm doing with an online group.  I even sewed some embellishments on it, but on the outside chance the owner is reading this, I didn't take a photo.  It's ready to mail to the next person, but I'll hold off a bit since I just mailed her my starter row.  It does feel really good to finish a few things once in a while!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Jumping into another UFO

My list of unfinished projects (UFOs) is relatively long.  I keep it on my phone and update as needed, but to make myself feel better, I also keep a list of finishes.  And, indeed, I have finished quite a few things this year already.  I only have one top waiting to be quilting, and I don't like it.  One of these days I'll think of a way to enhance it with quilting so I will want to finish.

Meanwhile, I joined in another row by row swap with an online group, and here's my first row.  It's not the best photo - I took it with my phone because Paul is out at a cemetery taking a photo for a power point presentation he's doing.  I used purple fabrics that I bought last year.  I buy things because I like them, and then when I get home, I'm not quite sure what I'll make.  But eventually something comes to mind.

This package will be on its way to Janet early this week.  She'll make a row and then mail it on to the next person.  When the package returns, six other people will have made rows that I will put together.  It may be a rectangular quilt, or, like a couple of others, it may surround a medallion.  We'll see!

Next on my agenda is a return to "Atlantic Crossing," which I started in a class with Deb Tucker at the Vermont Quilt Festival in June.  I was waiting for some fabric to go with the background I had used on the borders and center.  Now I have a whole bunch of flying geese to put together.  I want to hand quilt it since it's wallhanging size.  Maybe  I'll work on it in Alabama this winter.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Santa's workshop revealed

I took photos of the four Christmas stockings and five table runners I made over the last few days for the holiday craft fair.  I'm sure you don't want to see them all, but here are a few photos.

All five runners have a Christmas theme on one side and a red-white-and-blue theme on the other.  This made quilting a little more challenging, and I found a simple grid looks better than outlining something on one side and having it wonky on the other.  Today, I'm heading into the wonderfully cool sewing room to work on some pot holders.  When I finish, I'll set this holiday stuff aside for a while and get back to other things:  a row for a row by row swap, the "Atlantic Crossing" wallhanging I started at the Vermont Quilt Festival, and, perhaps, quilting the guild mystery quilt.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Online shopping...

Timeless Treasures Tonga Treats Fat Quarters - White...oh, it's too easy!  but oh, so much fun!  This was today's indulgence, along with some "almond" fossil fern.  Not sure what I'll do with them, but I know it will be fun.  Blame the hot weather - too conducive for armchair shopping!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Quiet morning

The neighborhood had a quiet visitor on this damp, cloudy morning.  It's so nice to see a deer nibbling while I'm making breakfast.  It's a sign of our town's quieting down after a busy weekend.  The newspaper said that 15,000 people were expected during the Heritage Days celebration, but it seems that everyone participated in some way, either by helping organize an event, setting up, or cleaning up.  Today when I drove through town, several crews were quietly taking down the tents and others were picking up trash.  In an hour or so you wouldn't even know anything out of the ordinary happened, except that a sore back or feet might linger!

Today I'm going to get back to working on items to sell at the Rustic Moose holiday sale.  I have finished five reversible holiday table runners (Christmas/patriotic colors) and three Christmas stockings.  More stockings and, perhaps, a few potholders are on tap today.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Heritage Days

I guess most small towns have their summer festivals, and Barre is no exception.  Heritage Days, formerly Homecoming Days, were this weekend and included all sorts of street activities, food, music, and, of course, the library book sale on the lawn.  It is exhausting but worth it.  Tomorrow I'll think so, anyway.  Today I'm tired from working at the book sale since 7:15 am.  We did make the front page of the paper with a very nice photo, and there were lots of people spending money and, at the end, filling boxes and bags full of freebies.  I came home with a few books, including an old Bobbsey Twins one that I'm going to try to sell for the library via Ebay.  We were lucky that it wasn't too hot today, but my feet are still in need of relief.  More tomorrow!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Red scrappy blocks

On the Quilting Board someone asked how many people make one quilt at a time and how many work on several at once.  I'm of the latter variety, partly because I get sucked into working on blocks of the month promoted by quilters online.  This year I'm working on a rainbow scrap challenge organized by So Scrappy in 2014.  I liked her final result so thought I'd make the blocks this year.  Each month features 6" blocks using scraps in a particular color, and July's color is red.  I'm making 9" blocks to use up more scraps (silly me!), and here are mine for July:

In order to get the ten blocks into the picture, I had to stack one on top.  You can see that they are fairly easy which means I can usually get them made in a couple of days.  Despite my efforts to use up scraps, I still have plenty.  Still, this offers a good opportunity to focus on one box of fabric each month and I do spend some time weeding through.  I've found some nice big pieces for future projects, as well as some polyester pieces that have ended up in the trash.  My boxes of 2" and 2.5" blocks have grown, too.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Progress, but not photo-worthy

We spent 4th of July weekend painting our bedroom, which naturally involved moving furniture round and round the upstairs while we painted.  Things were stashed in odd places, and we slept in the guest room a few nights.  That was fine because we have air conditioning in there (it's my sewing room, too).  It did feel odd going to sleep in a strange bed/room.  We chose the same color as was there before - off white - because my blue and white Dear Jane is hung over the bed and I tend to change out our quilts periodically.
 Paul's gigantic, unused dresser went to the Salvation Army and was replaced by a slimmer bookcase which he is filling up fairly fast.  The new, queen-sized bed arrived Tuesday, and it's higher than the old.  How do short people get into them?  I ordered a padded headboard via EBay and it should arrive in a day or so.

Meanwhile, because it's been hot, I've been working in the sewing room a lot.  I finished this month's 10 red blocks for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge and also caught up on Pat Sloan's "Vacation Time" block-of-the-month.  I was a couple of months behind on that.  I looked at the fabric I had picked for sashing and don't think it will go well with the blocks.  But I love it, so I guess I'll find another quilt to make with it.

I also worked on Linda's round robin quilt, but I can't show a photo just in case she is reading.  She sent a fairly large rectangle and only wants rows on the upper and right sides.  Her colors are light green, yellow and a goldish brown on a cream print background.  It is amazing how many greens there are, and also that I had only one piece of fabric in my stash that went with Linda's.  My 3" round (she wants to keep it small) didn't take long to finish and I hope she likes it.

Today I'm staying in the sewing room because it's going to be hot again.  I have one seam to put into a back for a sweet baby quilt top I made a few months ago.  I'll be sandwiching and quilting in the AC today.  When I'm not doing that, I'll be curled up with a good book on my Kindle, One Hundred Names, by Cecelia Ahearn.  My Kindle arrived during the painting project and it has been on constant use.  It's is too easy to load books, but I'm enjoying it even more than I thought!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A rainy start to the summer

It has rained 3 out of 5 Tuesdays mornings, but yesterday we were lucky enough to hold a nature walk in the town forest.  And walk we did!  It was a small group so we covered quite a bit of ground in less than two hours.  My fitbit counted over 10,000 steps yesterday - yeah!  We wanted to see some maidenhair ferns and also looked for Jack-in-the-pulpit (saw one that was gone by).  On our way up the Empire Lookout we saw something that might have been a coyote, although someone thought it was a fox, and I thought it was a small deer.  It was reddish anyway.  I'm glad we got outside, though, and hope that's the end of our rainy Tuesdays!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Fenway Park

Saturday, Paul and I were up early to catch a bus tour at 8:15 am to Boston's Fenway Park for a Red Sox baseball game.  It was fun!  I loved watching the people and sites of Boston while NOT driving in the traffic.  The people at the ballpark were fun to watch, too.  We had seats up under the deck, which was good since it was sunny and 90 degrees out.  It was far from home plate, closer to the bullpen, but that was OK with us.  We got the total baseball experience, complete with hotdogs and Cracker Jacks. 

3 quilts on display!

Our public library has a nice display of photos by the local newspaper's photographer, but they only used up one wall of the meeting room's space.  The empty space is behind where the podium usually is, so the librarian asked me if I had any quilts I could bring to dress up the spot.  There are weekly author programs as well as other programs during the week.

Because they still had hanging sleeves, I took the two quilts I showed at our recent quilt show.  Then I sewed a new sleeve onto the quilt I made Karen, our librarian, in 2012.  It has autographs of the authors who spoke at hte library that summer, along with those of staff, trustees, and members of the Friends of the Library.  It is in the middle and will be a nice backdrop to the refreshments we'll be having at Karen's retirement party on Sunday. 

Here's how they look!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Vacation mode

We had a great time out West!  We've already been home a week, and we are still getting back to "normal."  The re-entry was a busy one.  But here's a brief recap of our trip.

Mom looks great at almost 93, better than she did the last time we saw her!  She uses a walker now but that really helps her balance and she seems confident walking around, even on the busy streets of Golden, Colorado.  Our first day, which was unusually drizzly and chilly, we visited the Wheat Ridge Historical Village, a small area carved out of a development only a few miles from Mom's house.  Two historical houses formed the base, and I'd read that one was a "soddy." 

Having just read No Time on My Hands by Grace Snyder, I wanted to see what Grace might have lived in.  The walls are two feet thick, and the house has been stuccoed over, outside and in.  There were some simple quilts on the beds which I think were made by volunteers who had another quilt on a frame inside the brick Victorian house that they have been tying.  I need to dig out my copy of the book and mail it to Jessie, the volunteer who showed us around.

After a few days in Golden, we headed still further west to Moab, Utah, wending our way south on a very scenic back road along the Colorado River which was quite high due to all the rain they've had.  There was still snow over Vail Pass, but the roads were fine.  We stopped two nights in Moab so we could spend unhurried time at Arches National Park.  What views!

The weather was a bit stormy but it was fascinating to watch the systems moving across the sky.  Sand Arch (right) was just one of the amazing formations to be seen.  Moab is a popular spot for bikers, rafters, hikers, and other outdoor enthusiasts, as well as international tourists, which we found out at 3 am as a large group gathered to board a bus at our motel. 

Heading further south from Moab, we reached more desert, but eventually arrived at the Grand Canyon's south rim, which was amazing.  The first day's weather was overcast, but it made for some interesting views.  Our one full day there was spent walking along the rim in the morning and hopping on and off a shuttle bus at various viewpoints in the afternoon.  My Fitbit registered more than 17,000 steps that day - best ever.  (That may be why the battery died the next day!)

We had a delicious trout dinner the first night and a very comfortable, quiet room in a motel run by the park.  Again, it was busy with tourists, but the many different languages and faces was quite interesting.  We reflected that the Grand Canyon would definitely be one thing a foreigner would want to see in the US.
I did quite a bit of shopping in the gift shops at the park, too, because everything was made in USA.

The Grand Canyon was almost too big to take in, and it was fun to see elk roaming very near motels and tourist areas.  From the shuttle bus, we caught a glimpse of one elk with velvet antlers just budding, but there was no time to get the camera out.  And pictures did not always do justice to everything we saw.

Our way back to Golden was broken up by a night in Grand Junction, and very near Lookout Mountain, just outside Golden we passed a large group of buffalo, including calves.  When we went back the next day, they had moved on, perhaps into the woods, but we did go up the mountain to the Boettcher Mansion and the nature center where we and Mom had never been.  The mansion is a great example of Arts & Crafts style decorating, with oak Mission furniture by Gustave Stickley and William Morris wallpaper and upholstery.  Because the mansion is available for parties and weddings, these were all reproductions, but very nicely done.

Lunch in Golden with Paul's sister and her husband and a visit to the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum on our last day were a perfect way to end a great vacation.  The RMQM had an exhibit of Gwen Marston quilts (almost all handquilted!) and one of Native American-inspired quilts with amazing thread painting.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Fairy houses

'Ian Gauthier'Last Saturday, the Town Recreation Commission held an open house for the town forest, and I organized a "spring awakenings" walk with Samantha and a fairy house building activity.  Never mind the fact that the state quilt was holding its semiannual meeting on the same day.  What a wild and crazy day.  My Fitbit told me I packed a lot of activity into the day, and so did my feet!

Our children's librarian, Ian, also plays the bagpipes, so he led us up a hill to the spot for a story followed by house building.  18 kids, ranging in age from about 2 to 10, and their parents and grandparents came along, and it was fun.

The kids did a wonderful job, using sticks, pine cones, pods, and other natural items Tracy and I had assembled.  We let them take home flowers crocheted by Linda, stickers, and fairy dolls Tracy and I made (with a lot of hot glue to hold them together), so they could build houses in their own yards, too. 

'Avery's fairy house'Sunday, Paul and I walked up to see how the houses had done overnight, and many were still there... if you knew where to look.  Hope the fairies take up residence!

Making progress

A few more UFOs have been worked on since I last posted.  It's fun to see progress!  I made a bunch of green 9" blocks for the rainbow scrap challenge early this month due to general busy-ness coming up.

Next, I tackled the row robin I participated in last year.  I had received some Australian fabrics in exchange for postage in a swap I hosted.  Folks were much too generous; I loved these fabrics and wanted to use them for something special.  One lady sent a  panel with Australian wreaths which became the center medallion.  Four of the rows were used as borders around the center, and then I added a couple of blocks to the last two rows to make the quilt rectangular.  I'm calling it An Australian Christmas and am looking forward to quilting it.  I'm piecing the back with scraps and some signature blocks.  This makes three quilts in the closet waiting for quilting, but I find summer a good time for that, especially now with AC in the sewing room.

I made a center block for a round robin I'll be participating in using fabric from two sets of charm squares, and I finished appliqueing another guild logo block modelled on the traditional Moon Over the Mountains block.  Photos will be up... eventually!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

She likes it!

Great niece Tori graduates from high school this year and will be going off to college, majoring in communications.  Her mom told me that blue was her favorite color, so I dipped deep into my stash for this log cabin star.  I did use a variety of shirtings for the lighter strips.  It's amazing how much fabric goes into one of these.  It was long armed over the winter and just recently bound and mailed to Michigan.  I love it and am glad she does, too.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The orange challenge

This year I resolved to use more orange in my quilts, and, by golly, I have been!  I am doing Pat Sloan's "Vacation Time" mystery BOM, and I also just finished a modified "Sarah's Sampler" (from Jennifer Chiaverini's The Quilter's Apprentice) in oranges and grays.
I love the way it turned out as the grays all have a blue tone to them.  Quilting each block differently made it more of a sampler, too.  This quilt is going to the Parkinsons Comfort Quilt Project.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Two ribbons!

PhotoIt's been a while since I blogged.  First there was the run up to our local quilt show, then there was the show, then the recovery period.  I think I'm finally back to "normal" although with the spring weather comes lots of busy-ness.  Since winter is so long here, we have to really pack in our good weather activities before it gets too hot.  Of course, temperatures over 80 degrees spell "hot" to us Vermonters.

The show went very well, and I think we all ended up still being friends.  We had more quilts this time and lots more visitors (377 in two days, plus the entrants and volunteers, for a total of at least 400).  I think we're going to end up in the black slightly, but I haven't paid all the bills yet.  Some of the committee members have been slow to send them along.
PhotoMy Oceans of Scraps quilt received a Celebrity's Choice ribbon from the owner of our Ace Hardware store who is also president of the downtown business owners' association.  I love this year's ribbons, made by Geri!  The other ribbon came from one of the Vendors who owns a quilt shop in Brandon.  What an honor, to receive two ribbons.  I was also happy that my Nearly Insane Civil War Sampler was the subject of lots of looking during the show.  There's a lot to see in those 6" blocks.

Now that the banking's almost done, I need to update the show website in preparation for the two year dormant period.  That will take some time as I load photos of all the winning quilts and a few crowd shots.  Samantha gave me a great DVD to copy from.

This past week was a busy one, with trips to Hanover, NH, to visit Polly in her new home, and to Waitsfield to pick up an order at Mad River Quilting which is going out of business.  While there, I loaded up on mostly neutral fabrics at 30% off.  While I'm sad Lisa is selling out, she will still be doing longarm quilting and will still belong to the state quilters guild.  Tuesday and this coming Tuesday I'll be over at Tracy's working on fairy dolls to give out May 16 at the fairy house building event in the town forest.  It's fiddly work but goes much faster with a buddy.