Saturday, September 14, 2019

Tops to Share

Our Thursday group finally met, after missing a week due to painters in my house. Now my heart's desire, white walls, are done and I am thrilled. Mostly because they fixed all the booboos that were annoying me, and that's a big relief. We had finished blocks to sew together and in less than an hour, after eating our snacks and catching up, we assembled this top, which was #3 in the voting. This is a very scrappy version of Delectable Mountains, but still, it looks pretty darn good, if I say so myself. We did have some matching up problems (mostly me) and they eventually got fixed, so none's the wiser. It is huge. About 56 x 96". Someone said, it's a quilt for a tall gal. Ha!
To refresh your memory...we began with two 10 inch blocks and sewed them 1/4" along either side of the diagonal line. Cut them in half and then in fourths, and reassembled. That was the very easy part. Had we considered contrast a bit more than we did, the design would be more evident. O well. 
Speaking of contrast...The Tuesday group blocks are done and I have half sewn in strips and on the board ready to add to the main already sewn set. The red and white hourglass blocks really define this simple two block quilt, proving that you don't have to be fussy to be dramatic.
  We have just about used up all of our light prints and that means we are itching to buy fabric to supplement our design ideas. This must be prevented! We must use our creativity to make quilts with what is plentiful in the stash. I am certain it can be done.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Flying Geese Star

 For my Tuesday quilters I like to teach a basic block, like 4 patch, 9 patch, hourglass, Delectable Mountains, etc. This time we did flying geese blocks and then used them to make a star block. 
This sort of thing is all over the internet, so nothing really new here, but I am posting it, because all the info on this will then be in one place for my quilters. This recipe makes 'in the neighborhood' of a 6.5"block. 

 The Parts: 4.5" square for the background,  3.75" square for the center of the star, four 2.5" squares for the geese, or triangles, and four 2" squares to fill in the background.

 Place two squares on the big square and draw a diagonal line through them, sewing 1/4" seams on either side. 

 Cut on the line and press open thusly.

 Place the remaining two 2.5" squares on the point of those pieces and mark a diagonal line across, sewing 1/4" seams along both sides.

 Cut along that line and press open. Voila. Four matching flying geese blocks. But wait, there's more!

 Sew two of the geese blocks to the 3.75" square. The remaining geese get a 2" square sewn on either side. 

 Sew the combined geese and little squares onto the sides of the block, nesting seams. Press open.

 There she is. A nice star, no waste, and points remaining. Phew! I used my cut scraps bin for this block, and only had to adjust (trim down) one 4 inch square scrap to make the 3.75" square.
In the future I will use up those scrap bits by making flying geese and stars and eventually have enough for a top. Nice.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Picking up the Needles Again

These days, after quilting with friends, I like to sit in front of the TV and knit. Luckily I had something started from the last time it was cold out and it was nearly finished, so lucky me to have a project ready to complete.

I had taken names and offered yarn choices and this was the choice of previous recipient Katherine Mc. Noro Silk Garden and Cascade Venezia, a luxurious blend of merino and silk. So luscious to knit and wear. If I am lucky and have enough yarn left, I like to include a matching scarf like this. Plus, make a little doughnut ring to hold the ends of the scarf, instead of a bulky knot.

 Here's a casual way to toss on the ensemble. 

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Choosing the Layout

1. Our initial Delectable Mountain blocks were arranged thusly. Perfectly fine, but now we have oodles more to add to the mix and how should we set them? Note that the two joined parts of the block are rectangular rather than square, so orientation is a consideration. Set this way, horizontally, we can increase the width by adding more blocks in the rows and then more rows for added length.

2. With the same blocks turned 90 degrees, the length is greater than the width which might be very helpful in reaching our desired size, 60 x80". And the negative spaces are starting to look like zig zags, Nice, 

 3. The arrangement gives us medallion shapes, and is more than 6o" wide (the length of the 36x60" table) in this layout. 

 4. Similar medallions, arranged horizontally. 

 5. A zigzag is more visible in this setting, but care must be taken to select good contrast, as the design gets lost otherwise.

 6. In this setting, the blocks were arranged in rows with the darker on the bottom and then the next row with lighter on the bottom. Design clarity is still a bit weak with this arrangement. But then again, this is meant to be a scrappy quilt and not a really traditional version.
Please help make our choice and vote for your favorite setting. 

Thursday, August 29, 2019

I'm Baaaaaaack ! ! !

Never say never. Suddenly I have a reason to blog and it's about quilts.  Here's the story: A bunch of us were sitting around a table having lunch when our hostess got out a slip of paper with Agenda scribbled on it. She proposed that since we all are in our 70's that the time to use up our stash of fabric is NOW.  We have all given away as many quilts as our relatives can easily collect, and have in our closets more than we need in the increasingly short years we have left, so let's make quilts and give them away to needy causes. The idea had merit and while it sunk in we discussed how we could do this as a group. Nothing was decided at that first meeting but soon afterwards a series of events at my church led me to undo the third floor sewing room and bring it all back home to my sunroom. Three machines, work table a small pin up wall and lots and lots of light made this a great place to meet and sew. Not to mention it isn't on the third floor, and parking is free and close. No one need bring a machine, just their fabric. I am just as eager to use up mine since it was collecting dust for lo these many months of inactivity. I had a bunch of batting too, plus yardage for backing, but soon we used those pieces up and we decided to order a huge bolt of batting and save some money.

We'll be making Charity quilts yes, but not boring old simplistic get 'em out quick designs, although that wasn't uttered, but knowing us, it aint gonna happen. Our Instigating Member had a box of scraps to start us, and I grabbed a bagful and in a few days returned for more. Here's the quilt made from some of those scraps.
 I found it really easy to use someone else's fabrics, willy nilly getting them sewn into large sections and then trimming them down to 14" squares. I found ideas for settings on Pinterest and even used scraps for the white X's. Initially we were using up scraps as a goal but that very quickly led to including yardage we hadn't even touched and planning designs that were color or pattern based. This next one was inspired again by Pinterest (what did we do before we had that site?) and uses lots of leftovers in neutrals and yellows. We sewed this one as a group and it went so fast that is took only one four hour session to sew the strips. After everyone left I did the last of the connecting and it was ready to quilt. 
 O yes, the quilting. Easy enough to make tops as a group, but the quilting would be done by our expert Illustrious Member who has a long arm and volunteered. She also contributed an Accuquilt cutting machine which makes perfect 2.5 inch strips, and squares of several dimensions. This stellar device temporarily resides in the sunroom and is gonna be pretty hard to live without. 
Since we collected yellows for the first quilt and had leftovers, they were combined with some precut strips of blues and other darks for #2 in the striped category.
 We weren't just sewing together, but also on our own and adding them to the pile. Our Downtown Member made this great top which I have so desired to make from my own colors. 
And this one too: Decidedly modern, yes? As you can imagine, getting us together on one day a week took some organizing and not everyone could be here every time, but we settled on Thursdays as our weekly meeting and that seemed to work for most, most of the time. This meant that I would be missing my weekly Knitwits meeting, but sacrifices were made by everyone for this truly epic project, so I was very willing to concede.
Our Instigating Leader had to go on a vacation that was planned before we started, but she managed to cut up her collected men's shirts and produce this outstanding top, now already quilted. 
Then this complex but fun design was chosen by our Downtown member and we all cut and sewed it and completed in two 4 hour sessions. Homespun cotton plaids which were a giveaway from another quilter who also realized that time is slipping by. 

Many bins of scraps were beginning to accumulate and I took advantage of a large collection of darks, which combined with my sweet pastels took this staggered form. I enlisted my quilting pal from the Knit Wits to come sew with me on Tuesdays and we assembled this together. Now I've got her and another church friend to join us regularly and sew. Two groups meeting weekly at my house... HEAVEN!!!

 I found a nearly completed top that only needed seven more blocks to finish at the suggested size of 60x80ish and voila it was added to the pile. 
This wonderful design, Garlic Knots was suggested by our Downtown Member and completed in two sessions. So delicious!
  The Tuesday group is not as advanced (or as old!) as the Thursday bunch, so I am teaching them basic blocks which can be introductions to many design possibilities. The four patches combined into 16 patches, paired with half square triangles, and set with cornerstones were three lessons combined into one top.
 Then half square triangles cut again to make hour glass blocks combined with nine patches, was our next foray into basics.
Now here we are at the last week of the month since we began and our Thursday group is making Delectable Mountains from 10 inch square out of my stash, YES! Today we'll be cranking out more of these and deciding on a setting, of which there are many choices.

 I never thought I would have this opportunity, or feel this energized to use up the stash as I do now. The friendship factor is amazing and is deepening with each meeting. Love this so much! I was never a fan of some of the colors or patterns we chose but that has also changed and now I am crazy about everything we tackle.
The idea that my fabric is too precious to use is history. I want it all gone, but I am not alone, we all want to get it out of the closet and into a quilt that someone will use/love/need. No one wants to leave our fabric to be disposed of after we're gone. We want to use it up while we can enjoy doing it.

Here's what I learned: Using someone else's fabric is easier than sewing my own. It has no sentimental value.
And secondly, having cut up strips and squares is THE BEST. It makes it so easy to use. I want all my stash precut and decide on the uses later. Why not? It will all get used up eventually.
Thirdly, toss out excess scraps as you go. No saving ridiculous stuff, unless you want to spend hours trimming them down into usable shapes...which I have done. 6", 5", 4.5", 4", 3.5", 2.5" and 2" squares reside in my scrap box. Not to mention strips less than 2.5" wide. But they are not getting used, so far, as getting larger pieces cut and sewn is taking priority. So I think I have gotten that frugality out of my system.
Fourthly, have a good set of seam rippers handy, as talking and laughing can lead to mistakes. We all make them, even the experts. It is so worth it.

Monday, May 20, 2019

My Hiatus

Well Friends, I guess I have some 'splainin' to do.
I skipped a few days of blogging and then that grew into more and soon I realized my routine had changed so much that blogging didn't automatically happen as it once did. And I never did get into the Instagram habit, so that languishes too.

We are fine...mostly. I have been put in charge ( for real this time) of dispensing Dave's meds in order to get him 'under control' and curb his over usage of some of his drugs in hopes of keeping him on a more even keel. While it has worked to some extent, I do have to be on top of things as he needs these meds every hour on the hour day and night. Luckily we have some time release versions which give me 3 hours of sleep between doses. I am amazed at the human brain's ability to tell time. I wake up at precisely 3am, without the use of an alarm clock. The dogs get me up at 6 for their food and that coincides with another Dave dose. So it is working. However he is still paranoid and hallucinates at bit and has not let go of his imaginary nemesis, so I have to remind him frequently that these  things don't exist.

The garden is lush and the patio is such a great retreat space for us both. It is cool and shady in the mornings and later after 6pm, but the sun blazes mid-day and we stay indoors.

In the first week of May my sister moved into her new house and that was such a happy event, ending lots of fretting about selling and finding the right new place. So I was all caught up in her life for a while. Then Dave's sister and husband came for a nice three day visit and we had a great time with them. And I am busy at church, the knitting group and with my arty friends, meeting often and enjoying the camaraderie. Life is full and wonderful.

So I ask myself..should I keep the blog? 15 years is a long time to be doing this, and now instead of blogging in the morning, I am doing a daily bible/prayer time and of course that is so good for my outlook.
I'm not so needy of the attention I once sought with 'Look what I just made' and lost interest in using the blog as a sales platform, which I once felt I needed. I'm grateful for the fact that people you, dear reader, had been following my adventures, both artistic and horticultural but I have found my attention diverted to other things that keep me away from sharing stuff with you.
I re-discovered how much I love to read and having a great little library just down the road has made it so easy to load up with mysteries and novels and put up my feet and get into a book.
My wonderful cleaner Kelly is taking over the glamorizing of our house, even down to power washing the driveway. She was just here today for her weekly cleaning and I am loving the results, as you might imagine.
In July I am having my kitchen redone...always gotta tweak the places we live to make them 'mine' and that'll be the last renovation project on my list for this house. 

So we are all caught up and I guess I am saying that I will leave the blog up for now, even tho I won't be adding new posts. Thanks for all your kind comments, and loyalty, and thank you for being here when I needed you.
Hasta la vista,

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Mid-April Garden

 The white dogwood in full bloom. It was the last of the new trees to fill out, while the red bud is getting its leaves now and so is the pink dogwood. So wonderful to see it first thing in the early morning pre-dawn.

 Behind it in one of the veggie beds is the Siberian Iris, planted with the now over daffodills and crocus. The last to bloom in this bed.

 One of our four fig trees has big new figs on the stem. So adorable. This is not the only one with little figs, but the others are really small. We have four varieties, so we shall see what happens with the rest of them.

 I found just the right table ( and chairs, ( and set them up yesterday, knowing we won't have rain for a few days. The patio was covered with tree buds, making a huge mess, not to mention the pollen which blankets the whole neighborhood. But then we had terrific winds and rain and all is cleared off, no sweeping required. 
Lots of wonderful perennials fill the beds, making planting much easier this year. Plus I added all those hydrangeas and hosta from other parts of the yard, making it a much less expensive planting season. I still have petunias and impatiens to get in, somewhere. 
Last season I believe I shook out some seed heads of zinnias/and or coneflowers over the beds and now I have lots of  sprouts of things...I can always yank them out if they turn out not to be flowers. We'll see.
Seedlings mixed among the hardy geranium transplants. Their second leaves have started appearing, so I may soon know what they might become.
 One of our four clematis is going crazy and I am still waiting for help getting the arbor in place. Sigh. Good help is hard to find.
 Here's another mystery. It looks to me like a daisy, maybe Shasta, but its in absolutely a different bed than where they were planted last year. It's quite vigorous, so I am willing to keep it, if it turns out to be a daisy, but where are the ones I actually planted last season? Never came up. Darn.
On the other hand, here is a huge fennel colony which never actually died back over our mild winter. I shall be cutting out bulbs and grilling them soon, yum.
If you should think I am a good gardener, um, here is proof that I am not. This poor hydrangea was planted in loose soil which washed away over the many rains we had, and now is bare root, but still struggles to live. I will transplant it into a better spot. Poor darling.