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.