Monday, March 31, 2008

Starting the Crush!

Bonnie posted the first step at Quiltville for the Orange Crush mystery - an early April Fool's Day present! Of course I have to join in the fun, even though I have no business starting a new project since I haven't even started quilting my Carolina Crossroads top! My excuse is that I am waiting for a fabric sale to buy the backing for it - the truth is that I haven't had any time to think about that quilt!
But never mind about that...onto my new project! I am going to use these Jo Morton fabrics that Meredith sent me for the dark scraps and sew them to some neutral fabrics that I hope to find in my stash. And what about the other 4 fabrics that are going to go with those? I have no idea yet! I like to live on the edge!
And I have two night shifts to be on call this week, so if I don't get paged, I will be sewing in the night or maybe I might even sleep a little??
In the nonquilting news department - we finally have my mother-in-law settled into a senior's facility, and on the weekend we sold her house!
And I have these pretty daffodils on my kitchen table, which I bought on the weekend from the Canadian Cancer Society fundraiser.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

More machine quilting

I am back from my work conference in Sudbury. Driving in snowy weather to the conference was a nightmare, and we ended up being storm stayed in Parry Sound. Luckily we found a hotel room for the night and resumed our trip safely the next day once the white outs had subsided. The conference itself was very intense and exhausting, but excellent learning for my intense and exhausting job. I came home with the psychosomatic symptoms of being sick (stomach pain) and tired (headache). Thankfully the drive home took half the time that the drive up took!! And it's a good thing that we only have to go every other year - I have 2 years to recover and brace myself for the next conference!
I sure am craving some quilting time and hope I have some time and energy to quilt soon. Here is a possible border design that I am playing around with. This is what I usually do - fold a scrap paper the size of the border and doodle some ideas until I get one that is continuous and enjoyable to quilt.
Then I start quilting that design and hope the quilt lays flat out to the edge...
I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Machine Quilting progress

I have been machine quilting my spring wallhanging in every spare moment. First I quilted in the ditches between the blocks (using my walking foot). I quilted all the horizontal and vertical seams, and then started free motion quilting the blocks.
This was my block sketch with the quilting design that I liked the most. Sometimes I use EQ to design the quilting, or at least to print out the block to sketch ideas on, but with my computer acting up, I just did it the old fashion way - drawing on scrap paper.
There are 20 flower blocks and I have about half of them finished. There are places where the quilt is thick because of all the seams on the top and on the pieced backing, so I have had trouble with thread breaking if I quilt too fast. I also couldn't get the quilting needles to work and had the best luck with a universal needle. I am using a varigated Sulky thread and just hope I have enough to finish the quilting!
And this is how the blocks corners look where they meet.

I was hoping to have the quilting finished so that I could sew the binding on while I travel to a work conference this week, but I haven't had enough quilting time to meet that goal. But I will put my time to good use and will sketch some border quilting ideas while sitting in meetings. I'll post my sketches when I get home.
Happy Quilting!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy Easter!

I still have to hop around and hide some easter eggs before I can go to bed. But first a few quilty website updates.
1. The fabric requirements are posted for Quiltville's next mystery called "Orange Crush". I'm very excited to start a new project and hope I can figure out these fabric requirements...they are pretty tricky this time!
2. Linda at Paper Panache has a contest for a new mini mystery challenge. I am WAY behind and not likely to catch up any time soon on my mystery blocks!
3. And here is one of my favorite spring quilts that I paper pieced a couple of years ago. I always love to bring it out of storage as a sign that spring is here. Well this year, spring is here on the calendar only...we still have piles of snow!
If you like these quilt blocks, the pattern is free from eQuiltPatterns and is still online - click here. You have to order it as if you are purchasing something from them, but the total of your order is $0!! Although the easter eggs took a while to piece, this was a fun wallhanging to make.
Happy Easter!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Miniature Quilt Class

Somedays you just wake up and feel thankful for the ordinary things you can enjoy today that you didn't have yesterday...like computer access! My computer is still working today - yippee! Last night's blog entry appeared, and I am getting some email download! Also today is Good Friday so we all have a day off and some much deserved rest. I will hopefully get some quilting time in this weekend and hope to do lots of machine quilting. I am putting myself under pressure to get my CC quilt finished since Bonnie's new mystery at Quiltville is starting April 1st.
Here are some photos from Tuesday's miniature quilts class. These are their projects from January's class using Wendy Vosters' snowpeople paper pieced blocks. The photo quality isn't as good as I usually can get, so I'll have to figure out if that is computer or camera related (or user error!).
But I think you can get the idea of these wonderful little quilts. One of my favorite elements of this class is to see the personal touches and creative additions that these quilters add - in their choices of sashing, borders, embellishments, quilting, and even block additions/ modifications to accommodate "errors" !!
This month they worked on the connected hearts quilt that I finished for the February class, which I had to cancel - you can see my mini here. It was very interesting to note that each quilter tackled sewing their project in a different way.
These are the styles I noticed:
-sew each pieced component in the order listed on the instruction sheet by reading each step
-sew the quilt top row by row, starting at the top and working down to the bottom row by looking at the quilt picture
-sew each complete heart block, then join the hearts together, and finally work on the border pieces
It was fascinating to me that each person had the same task, and each one tackled it differently! It again demonstrated the different styles of the quilters and their creativity.
Myself, I usually like to follow the written instructions to complete one block first, and see how it turns out. Then I will go on to mass produce the block components and put the quilt together using the pictures/illustrations.
What is your style of sewing together a quilt top???

Thursday, March 20, 2008

My Lucky Day!

I am sooo relieved to be blogging tonight! My computer died again this week - for the second time in 6 months. I am so tired of palliative care for this "old" computer, but don't want to spend the time and money that is necessary to purchase a new one. Luckily my DH has breathed life into some of the programs again and tonight it is working somewhat. I can't wait to visit my favorite bloggers and see what I have missed. I still can't work the email yet, but am feeling a little hopeful that it will be revived soon.
And another lucky thing happened...I found my paper pieced blocks that I started piecing at quilt retreat, which I had "lost" in packing/unpacking after the retreat! For some strange reason I left them in a quilting magazine I was reading at retreat and found them this week when I picked up the magazine to finish reading it.
I had started paper piecing the word "winter" to include in my winter wallhanging that I have been working on for years. (You can read about that quilt and see some of the quilt blocks here.) I am using the letter patterns from Wendy Vosters website (which are free!). You can download those here. As you can see I have only finished half of the word, so now I will go ahead and finish the rest of the letters.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

National Quilt Day!

Happy National Quilt Day! Actually it was yesterday, and it's really only an American "holiday" although I don't know if quilters are given time off work to celebrate! You can read about the celebration on this website. Since I take any opportunity to celebrate quilting, I used this as an excuse to make sure my family knew that I needed to quilt yesterday - as if I need an excuse!!!
Because of the winter weather we have had, and the fact that Easter is early this year, we will not have any flowers at Easter - no crocuses (crocusi?), or daffodils, or tulips...only snow. I was really in the mood to work on my flower/spring quilt. I cut the border stips and sewed those on. Then I finished piecing the backing. You may remember that I switched the border strips and the backing fabric since the recommended border, which I had already sewn, was too busy for my liking (you can see the "problem" here).
So here is the scrappy backing. There are the 4 pieced borders strips that run right across the backing, and then I filled in with leftover pieces of fabric from the kit. I have only a few small scraps left and am very pleased with myself for using up everything instead of running to the store and buying a new backing. I hope it will quilt okay on my little machine having all those seams on the back...we'll see.
Then I started the pin basting process, which I enjoy now that I have big tables to lay out my quilts on...no more crawling around on hands and knees for this old girl!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

No quilts!

It was guild meeting tonight and so I can't sleep. Blogger never gives the correct time of the posts, so I won't tell you that it's almost 12:30 am! But I just know that I won't sleep if I go to bed, so it's no use! I dropped off two finished comfort quilts tonight - the teal scrappy bargello (which you can see by clicking here) and the group quilt that I just quilted (which you can see here). I had to make sure that I didn't look at any of the quilt tops waiting to be quilted, because they might start whispering to me, and I really don't have any time to listen to any of them this month!! I think that 6 of the 9 projects found a quilter to take them home tonight, so that was great news! I don't have any quilting photos to show you from this week since I haven't been doing any quilting, but I have been beading and you can see what I've been working on here. And I must show you my Miss Molly - isn't she just the cutest thing!?!? She's just returned from the doggie spa and she is saying "where's my treat"?!?!?

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Digging Out again

What a huge amount of snow we had this weekend. Lots of shovelling. Thankfully there are 4 of us in the family to take turns at it. We have been shovelling our own driveway and sidewalks, helping the elderly neighbours with theirs, and helping to push out cars that were stuck in the snow. Can you see that the snowbanks are higher than our car?!?In Kathy's Quiltland, I have been thinking about an old UFO called "La Vie En Rose". I don't very often buy kits, but for some reason I liked this a few years ago. The flower blocks were fun to sew, and now I think the colours are so pale. But I will finish it and I am excited about my ideas for quilting it. But first I have to finish the border...the place where my UFO's are created!
It is supposed to have the pieced border on the right, but I thought it was "too much". So I decided to use the green fabric that I bought for the backing instead. And that means I have to piece the backing from the pieces I was going to use for the border. Do you follow? The border and the backing are switching places!
I won't have much time the next little while to do as much quilting since I have taken on another part time job...just for 3 months, working days a week doing work for the Community Health Centre with post partum depression clients. With the winter weather we have had...we have had snow every 2 days out of 3 since Dec. 1st and more than half the days have seen less than 1 hour of sunshine (according to the newspaper)...the incidents of post partum depression in our community has skyrocketed. So I'll help out until the weather improves and hopefully the referrals decrease. My daughter asked me how I was going to do three jobs - I'm not sure yet!! But I know I'll figure it out!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Hand work & OWOH Update

Never a dull moment around here! After finally getting my Mother-in-law admitted to a long term care facility, she has contracted Influenza A and is quite sick. She is in quarantine so we cannot visit but I am so thankful that she in under the care of nurses and not living alone in her home.
This weekend we have had a huge pile of more snow. We have shovelled twice already today and it is ready for a third attempt. Who's tired of snow??? See Mare's comic here!
Since we are snowed in, I have been doing some hand beading and you can see my finished January piece here. And I have finished the February block of the Capricorn BOM. The March block has been posted, and I am ready to trace the pattern and get stitching!
One World - One Heart Update:
In February I participated in the One World One Heart event. It was great fun visiting all the participants' blogs and entering to win their gift drawings. I had 4 giveaways that I sent to the winners of my draws - they are probably still travelling to Toni in North Carolina, Michele in South Carolina, Pat in New York, and Michelle in New Zealand. Hope the packages make it through all this snow and arrive safely! You can read more about my giveaways and the winners here.
And amazingly I won 5 draws!! I received a painting from Judie in Florida which you can see here. And I received two journals - one from Becky in New York (see it here - scroll down to Feb. 7th...I got the flower one!!) and one from Susan in New Jersey (see this one here). I get the message...better keep on with the journalling! And I received a package of goodies including a necklace and earrings from Diana in Ohio (see it on her blog here). And lastly Tamy is sending me some stationery! I am a lucky duck!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Group Quilt & new mystery project

I guess I am finished talking about my retreat projects because I cannot find my paper pieced blocks to show you! I have looked in every bag I took along (there were too many!) and I can't find them anywhere. When they surface, I will tell you about them!
So today I will show you the quilt made by my UFO/friendship quilters group quilt. You can read the post about this quilt and sewing the blocks here. There are 12 star blocks and 6 cross blocks. Each of the interested group members sewed some blocks and I sewed the blocks together. If you've ever done anything like this, you know how difficult it can sometimes be since everyone's 1/4" seam allowance is different! But these blocks went together really well! Today I passed the quilt top back to Joan and she will add some borders.
And if you promise not to tell anyone, I'll show you the mystery quilt with Deb at Quiltaholics that I started on the weekend. I wanted to use up stash fabric but I had to veer far from the recommend fabrics since that would have required serious shopping. On the left are the pieces I cut out for the blocks... but life was too busy around here on the weekend and I didn't get much done on the mystery. On the right are my 8 blocks finally sewn and I quite like them. Sorry about the poor quality photo taken late at night on the basement floor! So I have been thinking about making more blocks and sewing the medium size quilt (instead of the small). That would use up more fabric since I would need to make an additional 10 blocks!
It is really snowing out here tonight and the kids are hoping to be snowed in and have school cancelled tomorrow. If that happens, I'll sew up the extra blocks!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Retreat Report #4 -Hand Stitching

Whenever I go on a quilt retreat I like to take a variety of projects because I never know what I will feel like working on. I usually like to take one project to machine quilt, some paper piecing , some machine piecing, and some hand work to relax with.
I had seen some fellow bloggers posting photos of their Capricorn Quilts Block of the Month. You can see Jeanne's here and Connie's here. Bea of Capricorn Quilts is posting a new hand stitching pattern each month...and it's free! I had printed out the patterns for January and February and had purchased some DMC varigated floss so I was all ready to go. I used the Roxanne's Quilter's Choice pencils that Meredith gave me and they worked great to trace the pattern. I really enjoyed using the varigated floss and was able to finish January's block, while listening to all the good discussions going on into the wee hours of the morning! I got a good start on February's block, which is good because the March pattern is already posted and I better get going!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Retreat Report #3 - a finish!

At last year's quilt retreat I pieced a scrappy bargello pattern using Bonnie's instructions at Quiltville. I used up a bunch of teal scraps that were donated to the guild, and you can read about how much I disliked the fabric here! Although I disliked the teal fabric, I really enjoyed piecing this pattern and I'm sure I will make another one someday using up more scraps. The quilt top waited the entire year for me to be motivated to finish it, even though had Barb donated the backing fabric last year, and I had a piece of batting also just waiting!
Oh well...I finally worked on it at the retreat. Thanks to Jacoba, who helped me to pin baste the quilt. I free motion quilted wavy lines following the bargello pattern in the quilt. I extended the wavy lines out to the edges, and where there were spaces in the quilting on the borders I quilted fish. Why fish? Someone said (I think Sue S?) that it looked like an under water quilt, so the fish idea came to my mind. On the right is a photo of one of the corners and the finished binding ready to attach to the quilt. You can also see the backing fabric which is a green/teal colour.
I sewed the binding to the quilt and guess what? It was 3" too short! UGH! So I had to piece in a different colour of teal to fill in the end of the binding.
Here is the finished quilt, with the binding attached. Can you spot the 3" fill in? I think it's on the top right hand side...must not be that noticable if I can't see it now!
Nancy volunteered to hand stitch the binding to the back and she will bring it to the next guild meeting and it will be finally FINISHED!