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.