Thursday, December 29, 2016

Snowing like crazy

Yve gave me a lovely scarf, dyed with flowers and plants, by a friend of hers.  I had Paul take a photo so I could send it to her.  You probably can't see the earrings Jenny gave me, but they have purple stones in them.   Just two of my great gifts.

As I write this, it is snowing heavily.  It started early this afternoon and is supposed to continue into tomorrow (Friday).  We may get 10" or more.  Wednesday, after mall walking, Paul and I went to the grocery store to stock up.  It was bustling, but I'm glad we went.  Today would have been crazy.  We were able to go walking this morning, but if the snow keeps up as it has today, we won't be going anywhere tomorrow, not even to volunteer at the VT Historical Society.

Yesterday afternoon I put bindings on two quilts.  One had come back from the long armer a week ago, and the other I just finished quilting myself.   I do bindings entirely by machine most of the time these days.  It takes me so long to hand stitch the bindings down, and I think this method makes them more durable/machine washable.

Today I made the guild block of the month and then started some 6" blocks from Sylvia's Bridal Sampler for a swap.  The blocks aren't due until
September, 2017, but I wanted to get the paper pieced "Amethyst" blocks over with.  Paper piecing is not my favorite technique, but it really is the best for this block.  I have made it with templates before and it always looked wonky.  My mom sent  the fabric from the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum gift shop.  She said she had fun choosing it, just as I thought she would.
I especially love the double pinks she picked.

Monday, December 26, 2016

2016 draws to a close

Hope you all had a very nice Christmas.  We had a quiet day, which is as we like it.  I received some fun things in my stocking, including a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Pez dispenser.  It took some putting together, and we discovered that the taste of Pez has not changed or improved.   My favorite gifts were a Supreme Slider which will be useful for machine quilting and a whole bunch of fat quarters from the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum shop.  Can't wait to dig into those.  We also received quite a few books which will keep us busy this winter.

Chris came over to open gifts in the morning and for our usual brunch - a cheese omelet, bacon, and homemade toast this year.  I had made a lovely Italian loaf on Christmas eve,  and it makes great toast, especially with homemade jam.  Although it was about 27 degrees out, the sky was bright blue, so we all took a walk afterwards.  As usual, I gave Chris a bag of groceries as one of his gifts, so he went home laden. 

We talked with Paul's brother Jim, my brother Axel, and my sister Jenny during the day.  In the Netherlands, my sister Jacqueline posted a photo of her wearing her new apron made (by me) of Indonesian fabrics.  I think she likes it!  I'm going to make Jenny a similar table runner when I get a chance - she uses them as a mat by her keyboard in her office.

With "everything" done on Christmas Eve, I spent the day working on some small projects - four mug rugs, a pin cushion, and the wool owl from a kit I started over the weekend.  I also made a few more 6" blocks out of selvages.  My stash of those is growing, and one of these days I'll put them all together.  Today we're going to do a little mall walking as we've eaten a few too many cookies and chocolates!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

A few quick projects

This was me, this morning.  I was making scarves out of old cashmere sweaters.  My friend has been buying used sweaters for years and giving me any she thinks I'd like.  Most are too small, and I've given a few to my sister and even to the Salvation Army.  A quilting friend showed some scarves she had made with her late father's cashmere sweaters as keepsakes for her siblings.  I was nervous about cutting into them, but she assured me they would hold up fine.  The other day I took a deep breath, got out my 6.5" square, and rotary cut a stack of squares out of four sweaters.

Today I sewed 10 squares each into four strips, alternating the colors, then sewed the strips together to end up with two really soft and warm scarves.  I'll keep one and send the other to my sister Jenny who's always cold and lives in Colorado.   I also traced my hand for a set of mittens which I may get to tomorrow or Saturday.  I'll attach the ribbing which I cut off the sleeves separately.   I still have most of the 8 sleeves left, but I set those aside for a "rainy day."

Image result for wool owl pincushion kit
I was on a roll today so I started on a wool pincushion project from a kit I got at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum on our last visit to Golden.  When I cut all the pieces out, I was a bit disappointed that the kit didn't include nearly enough fabric for the whole project.  I had to scrounge around in my very limited wool stash for under the wings and the "cap."  I did get those things doubled and blanket stitched, along with the beak.  

Now I'm ready to sew the body together and stuff it with some crushed walnuts.  Then I'll add all the other parts, including the button eyes.  It's nice to work on something and get it nearly done.  Quilts are such a long term commitment!

I have volunteered to handle the monthly UFO challenge for one online group I'm in this year, so I think I'll try to make some more pincushions using wool.  They won't be as fancy as this, but I'd like to do a little more work with wool, and pincushions seem perfect for a quick winter afternoon project.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Quilting another sampler

I finished putting the "Around the World" block swap quilt top together earlier in the week and started quilting it yesterday.  It's smallish - 48" x 58" or so - and will be fairly easy (or should I say "mindless"?) to quilt.  I need something like this at this time of year when there's so much hustle bustle.

Each person in the swap sent a block that represented her in some way.  My block, second from left at the top, is the block I designed for our guild logo - a variation on moon over the mountain with a heart in the middle of the peaks.  Our guild is the Heart of Vermont guild.  It was fun to incorporate Pat's flip flops, Carol's cardinal, Cindy's magnolia, and Linda's cowboy boot.  There are quite a few appliqued chick blocks and a couple of "blossom" blocks from a different swap with a different group, although the makers are also part of the "Around the World" group.  So I think I'll call it "Here a Chick, There a Chick"!

I went in the ditch between the blocks and am now working on each block individually, but simply.  The back fabric, while cotton, is a bit heavier than usual.  I think it's curtain or upholstery weight, which is OK because I'm not that fancy a quilter anyway.  It's purple, so I will have to go out and get some dark, dark blue for the binding.  This will keep me busy in between bouts of baking, laundry, reading, and just gazing at the snow pouring out of the sky!

A lovely mug rug

This beautiful mug rug arrived yesterday from Cathie and Dani in Australia.  It was handpieced and machine quilted by Dani, and sashed by her mother, Cathie.  It's so pretty that I hate to put anything on it.  Red wine will definitely not be used!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Holiday time!

I seem to be a little less productive lately.  Maybe it's the cold.  It snows a little bit every day, but now the prediction is for wind chills well below zero, too.  Ugh!  Even going out with the garbage or collecting the mail takes some effort.  Maybe it's just the feeling that the holidays are for relaxing.  Nonetheless, I finished a quilt top yesterday - 48" x 58" so not gigantic - but it took some doing.  It is a sampler of very disparate blocks from a swap, so I decided that blue went with them all.  I chose a lighter blue and a dark one and surrounded alternate blocks with one or the other.  It looks really nice, and maybe tomorrow I'll sandwich it and start quilting.

I made two batches of Chex Mix all morning Monday, and that was an accomplishment, considering it needs to be stirred every 15 min. for an hour or so.  One of these days I'll start baking cookies.  Manana - when it gets too chilly to do anything else? 

Sunday we put up our tree, and Monday I set up the Christmas village.  We usually do those things the other way around, but we had to glue the table for the village back together first.  The "antiques" in this house are always in need of repair!  I posted this photo on Facebook and a friend immediately recognized it as Dept. 56's New England village.  She has some of the same buildings.  The one at the top right is a quilt shop that came from Joann Fabrics and not Dept. 56, but I love it anyway.  If I ever find a library building in the same scale, I'll get one, but that particular set has been discontinued.

I've been waiting for my last package and, after I wrap its contents, I will feel more like I'm "on top of" Christmas.  Cindy, Sandy and I are going for a holiday lunch Saturday and we've been invited to an open house on Sunday.   Hope your holiday preparations are going well!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Be My Neighbor blocks

It always helps to make a test block when one is making a bunch of blocks to swap.  I just finished making blocks for an online swap of "Be My Neighbor" blocks.  There are 16 blocks in the quilt, and each of the eight people swapping is making eight of two different blocks.

Moda had created the quilt as a block of the week, so I made the one on the left (Block #1) several weeks ago.  I made my tree with two too many branches, so the next seven swap blocks I made scrappier and with only five branches and the top.  For the next block (#12), I made the nine patches way too busy, so the next blocks I made the nine patches black and yellow.

These are fairly large, easy blocks.  #1 is 18" x 18" finished and #12 is 9" x 18" finished.  Other blocks have a cute bird appliqued, but the appliqued block choices went quickly.  We were to include a little yellow in each block and the background was to be cream.  I can't wait to see what the other people are doing, but the blocks aren't due til June, so I have a long time to wait.  Hope I can remember where I've stashed my blocks after I mail the rest out.  😊

Saturday, December 3, 2016

A new outlet

I have had an etsy shop for some time but have only sold two items, one to a friend privately and a table runner via the site.  I keep adding and subtracting this as I make them, but feel it's a bit futile.  Still, what else can I do with the growing pile of quilts that aren't suited for the Parkinsons Comfort Project or the hospital's children's center?  Etsy's charges are so low that I just keep at it.  I made a Facebook page to link to the shop also.

Thursday I went to a new flower and gift shop downtown and saw a baby quilt and some other crafts by local people for sale.  I asked the owner, Alexis, if she'd be interested in trying to sell a few of my quilts, and she encouraged me to bring them down.   She said Christmas is a good time.  This morning, I took these two baby quilts to her shop and am hoping they will sell.  Alexis takes a 25% commission, which seems reasonable to me.   I don't really care about the money, but it would be nice to have a little "mad money" to buy more fabric!  😊