Sunday, April 5, 2020

Palm Sunday Garden

 Garden days are just beginning here. We have been working on pulling the weeds and clearing the beds, prior to ordering in some new fresh compost. The Rocket snapdragons from last season are still going strong with oodles of buds and our first flowers. There are four huge clumps, red, pink and yellow, and I am delighted to have them filling in where so much was lost over the end of season heat and drought. The winter was mild and very wet and that helped so many plants revive. Yay!

 Always a survivor, the hardy geraniums, or cranesbill, have little clumps in the beds and will spread willy nilly if they are happy and don't get too much competition. Every year I say I won't go nuts with new plants, and this may be the year I stick to that promise. 

 Here's the mother plant or plants that I keep harvesting new plants from. In this same pot is a tiny bleeding heart, which I have high hopes for this season. I'll buy more of those since they are so sweet in the shady areas.
 A clump of dianthus which I 'transplanted' from the main bed. I actually just threw it down and left it and amazingly it thrived. Note to self: buy more dianthus. 

 The wonderful Hellebore which I got from my dearest friend Patsy. So exhuberant! First to bloom every year and a real harbinger of Spring. 

 And next to it is the darling Maidenhair fern, also a gift from Patsy. I can't believe how thrilling it is to have these woodland beauties living in my garden.

 In the far corner by the trellis are five varieties of clematis, with the earliest sprouting big fat buds. Despite a nice place to climb, they find their own growth path. These will be a light pink and white.

 The star of the garden is the white dogwood. Full of flowers and new leaves coming out, I managed to reach up to snap the faces of this branch. I'm pretty sure the pink dogwood didn't make it and it was a second try tree. So we'll give a week or two more and then dig it up. Boohoo. 
In the right corner of this picture is one of the blue pots we had lining the driveway. All of them were emptied of tired potting soil and will be filled with new this year, as well as new plants. Always a good time to try new plants without too much of an investment.

 I left the Dutch Iris bulbs in place last season since the leaves had died down and I couldn't tell them from the weeds. So happy I did. They are so pretty.

 A miracle plant, this little fern died last summer, or so I thought but here it is, thriving! I encouraged to add more ferns like this if they are this hardy. Note the spiky gumballs in the picture, the bane of the property. They are everywhere as the parent trees are our best shade producers. 

 We were so disappointed with this Japanese Maple when it was planted. Spindly, wispy leaved and just ugly. But the wet winter revived its potential and now it is full and just gorgeous. Another garden miracle. I'll put something colorful in its planter for the summer.

 Last week a few of our neighbors had some trees removed and mulched and I had the workers dump the chips in our yard. Dave is spreading them, and I was promised more to come in the future. Then I will fill in with some shrubs, ornamental grasses and perennials, to make this a real garden. This year for sure!
By the way, we are healthy and staying put, mostly and keeping safe. I can't complain about being confined when I would in the garden anyway. Thank heaven for mail order!

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Quilting and Surgery

Here's what's on the design wall for our Tuesday quilters. Batiks again, we are on a kick. The strippy blocks were leftover strips from trimming down fat quarters into 10" squares and 6.5"squares. I took advantage of another doorbuster sale at Joann's and spent $20 on batik fat quarters, just to round our collection. Woowoo!
But then everything has temporarily ground to a halt because yesterday I had partial knee replacement surgery.
It went great and I have no pain. Seriously. NO PAIN. I am walking around without the use of the walker, which was more trouble than it was worth and with the new knee, I have grown a half inch on my right side! Taller that is, not wider. So now I am planning more walking in the neighborhood and losing the accumulated weight that happened over my baking for the holidays binge. That's the thing about going to the hospital for pre-surgery evaluations. They weigh you, something I studiously avoided. Arggghhh, bad news for me. No wonder I always wanted  to stay in my loose pjs for the day.
I hate diet talk, and as you long time readers know I have been a dieter every now and then and have lost hundreds of pounds total, so I am not concerned about doing this in a hurry. Altho it would be nice to actually wear the nice clothes that don't fit me currently. Hmmm.
Prior to my surgery, I thought I wouldn't be able to negotiate our stairs very well and decided that we needed to temporarily move our beds downstairs to the front room. We have two front rooms and one is the bigger quilting room. Anyway, the bed frames disassemble easily and we could slide the mattresses down the stairs and voila, the room is plenty big enough to share. We have had separate bedrooms for ages since Dave has been ill and stays up all night. Now that we have reunited in one room, it turns out to be so much better for both of us, once I got him on a better sleeping schedule and as I am right there to anticipate his meds, (don't have to get outta bed and walk down the hall multiple times ) and can prevent lots of bad spells. On the bad side, he still wants to get up and eat something in the adjoining kitchen during the night, turning on the lights and making noise and waking me up. So it's not perfect yet. 
Now the upstairs is pretty much vacant and it occurred to me that this could solve another problem for me. I've regularly injured myself when I try to lift Dave in or out of bed when he is having a spell and I need help for those times, plus relief from constantly being needed by him. Sooooo, why not have a live in nurse or nursing student, preferably a husky guy, who could have two furnished rooms, an ensuite bath, laundry and half bath and parking on the premises, not to mention free wi-fi and a 50"flat screen.
So I am working on this as my new plan. 
But wait there's more. We are going to move the beds again into the sunroom and have more privacy and get our living room back. And I am converting our neglected pantry into a closet (having it done professionally) and adding some bathroom storage since Dave has tons of toiletries. Woowoo!
It never ends!

Saturday, February 8, 2020

quilts and snow

 Since I have been studying alternate Quilt as you go methods, I felt it was time to use the latest one in a real quilt. This Rail Fence Star was already on the finished-piecing pile and wasn't too big, (54x72") so I chose to begin with it and enlisted the aid of the Tuesday quilters. We had not planned ahead, so we unpicked the seams to quilt it in sections, using the no-backing method, just quilting through the top and batting, and then sewing the panels together and finally adding the backing and quilting stitch in the ditch between the blocks sections.
 This view shows the quilting, straight line, and with this method we didn't even use a walking foot. NO pleats resulted. Yay! The very last vertical seam on the left shows the join between quilted sections. 
 Then the backing was added and the quilting was simple, between each of the 9 sections of each of the 12 big blocks. Binding as usual. Of course more quilting could be added, but it really won't make much difference to the wear of this piece. It feels scrumptious and cuddly, just as it should.
 The Thursday quilters had a bye-week and missed a meeting because two members were in Japan! But the remaining three of us resumed and sewed these gorgeous batik half square triangles together. These panels will next be quilted individually and assembled for another qayg finished product. 57x76"

Weather is the big story today. Big fat snow globs have been falling since 7am and we have about 4 inches so far. 

 From the front porch. standing inside, of course.

 A big snow laden tree in our side yard. Such a sight. Not three days ago, we had massive amounts of rain and lots in our vicinity were lakes for several hours. This kind of snow is rare here, and will no doubt melt soon. I am staying home, happily just watching and knitting.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Another QAYG Method????

I could have said, "Wait there's more!" which I wouldn't have imagined, yet here it is, another way to quilt as you go. As I've said a zillion times before, I saw this method on Pinterest and went to the site of the tutorial.
And then to prove it for myself, I had to make a sample. Above is the front of the sample, made from little 5 inch blocks, quilted individually (just the top and batting, no backing fabric) and joined with 1/4" seams, graded at the edges, which is really important and the new idea with this method.  
 The seam is pressed open with steam or in my case a spritz of Faultless Original Hold ($1.98 at Walmart). Then I sewed the four blocks together, ready to add the backing fabric. FYI the batting I used is all cotton with a scrim, and I quilted the blocks with the scrim against the feed dogs. Hopefully this will lessen the amount of batting drifting into the machine, which I am not too worried about, just sayin'.
 The front looks flawless, if I do say so myself. No lumps or bumps which is what I would have expected. REALLY flat. Yay!!
I think I am ready to give this a try on a large scale. Just so you know, the backing fabric is going to be a large sheet and the blocks are going to be basted (pinned?) onto it. Then the quilting is first stitch in the ditch between blocks, and whatever other quilting would be needed to keep the backing from moving around, after that.  These combined five little blocks would be equivalent to one 9.5" block and I would think just a stitch in the ditch at the centers would do.
Note to self: don't use gingham for binding!

 For the record, here are the different methods of Quilt As YOU Go that I have used:
1. From the Fibermania blog via The Quilting Edge. Version I.
2. From this blog, You Gotta Try This. which included version II and version III.
3, And now version IV, here.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Vintage Calico Scrap QAYG

 Some months ago when I moved our sewing room out of the third floor church room to my sunroom, I brought some red calico prints with me, figuring I would use them for a donated quilt. Finally got aroundtuit. Yay!
Most of these fabrics were donated from church members who are in their mid 80's, so they have been stored (carefully) for decades. One had a date on the selvedge, 1994. Wow! I used it all up. And the blue was donated by my sister's ex-boyfriend, who got it at an estate sale. Backing came from him too. The batting I used was cut off from quilts that were quilted on the longarm, by our illustrious quilter. Those were more or less free too. All in all, this was nearly a freebie! It took a week from start to finish, and measures 63x80" I did it quilt as you go, with only four parts. The center was 36x39" and I quilted that as one piece. Then I made the drops and attached them after they were quilted. This is so much easier and faster than wrangling the whole thing at once. I used the qayg method described here.

Today Tuesday quilter Patsy came to pick up the quilt above and brought her latest qayg in progress to share with me. I LOVE it. I've always wanted to make one of these scrappy beauties, and man, have I got the scrap strips to do it. Each block is individually quilted and joined later to the other quilted blocks, which means it can be done in free moments whenever one has time. Eventually it is finished, and only needs binding. What fun is that! Her blocks are about 10 or 11" square, so this is 40x50" but what if the blocks were 15" square? 4x5 (20 blocks) would make a 60x75" quilt. O my. See you later, gotta sew!

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Batik Beauties

 Our Thursday charity quilting group began in earnest last week, but then three of the six of us had to go on vacation, so today the remaining three of us picked up where we left off last week. You can imagine that organizing a weekly sew-in is a challenge, and yet we usually have what I think of as a quorum, so projects actually do get made and turned over to our fabulous quilter, on a timely basis. Our first of the year joint effort is made from batiks which I got when Joann's had a 75% off sale. Fat quarters for 75 cents each. Whamo!
 We used 6.5" squares, sewn into half square triangles and trimmed down to 5.5" and sewed them into three simple blocks. When they are all sewn, we will have the fun moving them around to a satisfactory arrangement. No matter what we do, it will look fabulous because the fabric does all the work for us. 
 While we have six members, not all of us are sewing at the same time. We have cutters, trimmers, and pressers, as well as someone putting the blocks on the wall or getting them from the cutting table to the sewing machines and back to the pressers, all the while laughing and talking and just having a great time.
 Here's a long view of the sewing room,

and now we have three, yes three Janome 6500P machines, so no one has to deal with a different machine each week. My sister works at Chattanooga Sewing Machine Co. and this week a 6500P was brought in as a trade-in and I was Melody On The Spot and took advantage.
 Here it is on one of our little tables, but soon to be placed in a custom Sew Ezi table, which I ordered and will arrive on Saturday. Woowoo! 
  I love the one I got for machine #2 and it is portable and doesn't jiggle when I sew 100 mph.
 Tony is our welcome committee and thinks it is his place to bark-announce the arrival of each car in the driveway. Then he fake-cries for pets when the door is answered. Everyone is trying to teach him to sit and not jump on their legs, to no avail. Bad doggie. 

Thursday, January 16, 2020

New for 2020

This charity quilt-as-you-go is finished, today as a matter of fact, and what it lacks in artistic flair, it more than makes up for in reducing the scrap pile. No new fabric (or batting!) was used in the making of this quilt. Since it was sewing lots of little strips, it filled the free time I had in between making Christmas cookies and complaining that it didn't seem like Christmas at all this year. Shirt sleeves and sandals and lots of rain. However, nothing to shovel either, so it ain't all bad.

When I wasn't sewing or complaining, I spent my holidays watching MURDER on Amazon and Netflix. I recently decided to subscribe to Acorn TV and it is all British murder, all the time. Lots of mystery thrillers with lavish mansions or darling little villages and gardens. 
While watching I knit. 
This is the new raglan sleeve version of my all time fave Diamond Patchwork Jacket. Yarns used were Noro Silk Garden, Poems Worsted, Lion Brand Amazing, and Boreal. I changed the pattern slightly at the neckline (a great improvement, imho) and the sides have slits up to the edges of the first diamond. While it is multicolored it remains tasteful instead of garish. 
My dear friend Vista modeled for me and I accidentally cut off her head. Here she is with it back on. Sorry Vista.
It measures 28" long from the base of the back neck and is 26" from side seam to side seam or 52" around. Nice and roomy. It is available for $150, shipping included. Email me. SOLD