Thursday, February 25, 2010

Back from retreat

I can't believe that my quilting retreat is over already. It was a wonderful getaway as always and very inspiring to see all the amazing bags, tablerunners, wallhangings, and quilts being made by quilting friends.
This is my project tally:
11 projects made the trip this year...I tried to be more realistic and reduced by 3 from last year!
5 did not get opened (apparently I am still a little overly optimistic!)
2 new projects were started...1 from stash scraps (see below) and 1 from a kit which I disliked and put away quickly
4 ongoing projects saw some major progress however I have no finishes to announce...I spread my time working on various projects until I felt like working on something else
One of my goals was to start the machine quilting on Carolina Crossroads which I finished piecing at retreat 2 years ago and pieced the backing for last weekend. Don't you just hate it when the bobbin runs out in the middle of machine quilting!  This quilt now has about 3 bobbins worth of quilting and it's maybe 1/3 finished.
My new project that I enjoyed working on is Quiltville's Scrappy Trips Around the World. I used some fabric from a scrap bag I bought at Hancock's in Paducah last year, plus lots of fabric from my stash. This photo shows the 20 blocks I pieced.  It was fun to sew and a great stash reducer. I want to make at least 4 more blocks, but I had sewn as many strips as I brought with me.

I took along the box of scraps that Julie sent to me - click here. I gave away a few pieces that some friends were coveting, then pressed the strings, sorting them into lights and darks, and sewed them into the Quilt-As-You-Go blocks I have been working on since 2007. I had hoped to make more progress on this project with sewing the blocks into rows, but I got so distracted with watching the Olympics that I didn't get much done! I did get the finished blocks sewn into twosies and the sashings are ready to be hand stitched.
This photo of me reminds me of Bonnie's blogpost about quilters dressing to match their quilts - click here. I am sewing with purple thread and working on purple sashing with a purple backing...and wearing purple!
That's the report for 2010 quilt retreat. Now I am off to get some much needed sleep!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Design Wall Monday #8

I am planning for my upcoming quilting retreat...woohoo! I have been cleaning cupboards and trying to get myself more organized so that I can pack up a month's worth of projects (to finish in 2 days) and everything I might ever need to work on all those projects...I'm sure you know how that goes!
I even dug to the back of the closet and found a UFO that I worked on at the 2007 retreat and I hope to make lots of progress on that this year.
At last year's retreat, I took 14 projects, finished 4, made progress on 2, started 1 (you always have to start something new, right???) and 6 projects did not even get opened! I will try to me more sensible this year and make more realistic goals.
Last year at retreat I machine quilted my Orange Crush quilt, and this year I am forcing myself to quilt my Carolina Crossroads. I finished the piecing at retreat in 2008 - yes, 2 years ago and it has been waiting patiently ever since, so now it's finally ready to be quilted.
This weekend I pieced the backing for the quilt, using up lots of my black and white stash. In this photo it sure looks like there is a blue fabric in there. I'll have to check that tomorrow in the daylight...not that it really matters since I'm not taking it out now! This took me hours to cut and piece, and made me really want to buy wide backings again :) But I recognize the value in cleaning up the stash by making these pieced backings.
Now I just have to baste the quilt and find some thread, and I'm ready to pack up for retreat.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Good luck streak

I am having a streak of good luck.
I won three Quiltmaker magazines from entering the draw on Pat Sloan's blog - you can read about it here. Not just any magazines...the issues that have a Bonnie Hunter mystery inside! I already know what the mystery pattern ("Christmas lights") looks like because someone (Judy) has already finished hers and it looks spectacular, so I am motivated to sew it myself now that I have the pattern.
AND I won a quilt! I can hardly believe it, but it's true! I won the raffle draw on Andrea's blog - click here. The quilt had a long and difficult journey to Canada and this is how it arrived with the outside wrapping torn in many places.
But inside the parcel, the quilt was in perfect condition and my whole family loves it.  My daughter said "why can't you make nice quilts like this"?!? Ummm....I could, I said slowly, but I don't have a very good colour sense...I'll work on it! This is such a fabulous scrap quilt...there are so many different fabrics in those 9 patches and I can't stop looking at it! Here are my two favorite girls watching the olympics in this beautiful quilt.
Thanks so much Andrea!
And if that was not enough of a lucky streak, I have a quilt retreat coming up!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Saturday Sampler #8

For my 12" sampler block this week, I used one of the blocks from the Friday Block Party. I have been mostly a "lurker" on this blog, and have enjoyed seeing all the different blocks made from the same pattern.  
I was tempted to make the whole block from half square triangles, but decided I wanted to try using a different method of piecing flying geese units than I used for this block, so I went ahead and followed the instructions :)
Block Name: Another Star
Pattern source: Quilters Cache website - click here
This was a fairly straight forward block to sew and I only had one tiny problem...which was quickly fixed with my seam ripper and a little concentration!
To see other interpretations of this block - click here.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Another little finish

During one of my stash diving ventures in January I found a bag of pink 9 patch blocks I had received in a block swap back in the 90's and I felt they had aged enough and were ready to become a quilt :)
I cut the blocks into 4 pieces (disappearing 9 patch trick again - if you haven't made one yet, check out the tutorial here) and sewed them back together, then put them on pointe.
It looked kind of odd (and maybe still does) so I added some vertical strings of pink RicRac.

I haven't used RicRac on anything except mini quilts and now I am wondering how it will wash. Does anyone have any advice about this? I just quilted a line right down the middle, but for a baby quilt that will be washed frequently, should I also add some free motion on the RicRac edges? Now that it is finished I am wondering if I should have pre-washed the RicRac?  Do you prewash your RicRac or have any other suggestions?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hilary Rice quilt finished

Last May my quilt guild brought Hilary Rice from Newfoundland to teach 2 classes for us. At the guild meeting last week we were encouraged to bring in our finished pieces from those classes, which is a great idea to motivate people to finish a project.
It worked for me! I was so close to finishing, but the quilt was drifting to the UFO pile, just because I kept thinking it was almost finished but didn't pick it up to do the last bit of quilting. I tried out my new free-motion quilting foot and really liked it. I have a Brother sewing machine and this is a Janome foot, but it worked great. I decided to try to quilt each section with a different pattern and that was lots of fun.
When the quilting was done I cut an uneven edge, just cutting around the quilt with my rotary cutter - first time ever that I didn't use a ruler to cut an edge, and I was happy with how that turned out. I made a two colour binding using batiks since I couldn't find the leftover hand dyed fabrics.
I loved working with these hand dyed fabrics that were in our kits and the curves technique was not as difficult as I thought it would be.

If you want to make a similar quilt, you can order the pattern and fabrics from Hilary - click here to go to her pattern page and you can order her newest pattern here.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Design Wall Monday #7

One of the UFO's on my wish list (see sidebar) is a BeAttitudes BOM that I started in 2008.
On my design wall today is my finished 4th block!
The reason why it is taking me so long is because once I have the block base pieced, the pattern traced onto a fusible, cut out and ironed down, I want to be done with it! But then there is the buttonhole stitching ( by machine) to do around every little shape, and that's boring to me, so I procrastinate that step! My mind wonders to all the fun quilting things I could be doing and it takes great self control to stay at it.
In Ontario it is "Family Day" which means most people have a vacation day and of course I hope to quilt the day away.
This is the project I am going to tackle. This is a UFO of a long time quilty friend, and I can't wait to dig in and figure out what to do with it.
Why is it that other quilter's UFO's are so much more interesting than mine?!?
Could it be that I am procrastinating the buttonhole stitching?!?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

I was up early this morning (well, early in my house is before the teenagers wake up!) to make heart shaped blueberry scones for breakfast. It thrills me to no end to made something from scratch that tastes good and is made from ingredients that I prepared. The blueberries are the ones I picked last summer  (click here to read about that) and I made the blueberry jam that went on the scones...yum yum!

And now the big reveal... the name of winner of the Valentine's Day giveaway, which was picked by my son from the 45 Erika! Erika was the last name to enter the draw and she was the winner...
congratulations Erika!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Saturday Sampler #7

Time to post my Saturday Sampler block.
This week I picked one of Amy's BOM blocks called "Blackford's Beauty". 
I recognized the block from one of my UFO's that I have been making for one of my nieces. It is one of my oldest UFO's and I really like it, so I dug around in the cupboard so I could show it on my blog. I really must finish this quilt...the only problem was the size and I could easily fix that with some work on the borders. Which is the reason why I haven't finished it...I don't like sewing borders! But I dislike old UFO's more than I dislike borders, so I'll get on it!
I made my arrow blocks using 3 flying geese, instead of the method that Amy used, so I thought I'd try her way today.
Once I twisted the 4 patches on the corners, I really liked it!
Block Name: Blackford's Beauty
Blog source: Amy's Passion

If you haven't entered the draw for a mini Valentine's quilt, you still have time. I'll be drawing the winner's name tomorrow - click here.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Valentines Day Giveaway!

I have been working on a mini quilt to give away to one lucky blog reader to celebrate one of my favorite days - Valentine's Day - a day to celebrate all the people you love! I didn't sign up to the "One World, One Heart" event this year...I got a ton of spam and junk mail following last my participation. So I decided to have my own giveaway for my blog readers this February!  I even trudged out to the back yard to take a photo of the quilt in the snow, but then I cropped the photo so much that you can't even see if it's taken on a snow pile or my design wall!
The blocks are 2" and I quilted on top of some red mini Ric Rac, which gives it a neat effect. Each block has a little red flower beaded to the centre. I bought these flowers from the Juicy Bead Ladies at a bead show last October. You can see a close up of the beads here. The flowers are held on with a tiny white seed bead in the centre. If you'd like to own this little "Kisses and a Hug" mini quilt, leave a comment on this post and I'll draw the winner on Sunday February 14th.
And what about some candy and chocolate!?!?  Since I wrote a post last week (read it here) about quirky things, here is another Canadian quirk....Smarties. In the U.S., Smarties are little candies sold in rolls...see a photo of them in Judy's post here. In Canada, Smarties are little bits of chocolate with a candy eat the red ones last :)  And the little candies sold in rolls are called "Rockets" here. So, I will send along some quirky Canadian candy with the Valentine's parcel!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Design Wall Monday #6

What's on the design wall today?
...still the mystery quilt from Quiltville last year. It was on the design wall in my January 11th blogpost - click here. I wasn't able to make any progress but now that I have finally figured out why, I'm ready to move on.
What was the problem, you ask? I just don't like my pointsettia stars and my ducks and geese blocks together in the same quilt. I really tried to make it work together and auditioned probably hundreds of combinations of sashings and borders and layouts, but I just didn't like it.
I finally reached the conclusion that I do like the 4 fox and geese blocks together as the "Christmas star" and so I went ahead and sewed them together.
Then I went back to trying to find a way to put them together with the Pointsettia blocks again and it was so frustrating !
Final answer... they are going to have to be in 2 separate quilts and I can take a big deep breath and move on! It's so strange when your quilt refuses to co-operate and has such a mind of it's own!
What's on the stove today? 
Leftover Iowa Chowder which I made for the Superbowl festivities this weekend. It was a big hit with my family, although it doesn't look very appetizing in this photo! You can get the recipe on Judy's Lime Green Kitchen blog - click here.
What's on the sewing machine today? 
I am quilting my 7 shirts quilt...nothing fancy, just stitch in the ditch. 

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Saturday Sampler #6

My sampler quilt block for this week is finally finished. I must admit that I found this one to be challenging, and since I've been quilting for almost 20 years, that tells you something about this block!
It doesn't look that trickey, but it had me ripping out a few times and miscalculating and making too many pieces for some parts and not enough for others :(
I really enjoyed using their technique for "fast flying geese" and I had seen it described on many websites - click here to see one - but I hadn't tried it yet. I briefly thought to myself I'll just change the measurements and use the method I always do for sewing flying geese, but then I remembered how I make my kids eat new foods every week saying "it's good to try new things" and I guilted myself into trying the new way! 
Just look at these beauties all lined up ready to cut off the dog ears to put into my jar! The blocks turned out the correct size and I was happy with them, but it totally confused me in terms of how many squares it takes to complete one block. I ended up with about 8 extra geese, but I'll look for another pattern where I can use them.
And here is my new 12 1/2" Saturday Sampler block, which has 81 pieces!

Block Name: Blazing Star 

Designer:  Deanne Eisenman
Pattern: Quiltmaker 100 Blocks magazine (block #64)

Friday, February 05, 2010

Quirky Quilter?

I am thinking about quirkyness today. It started with reading an article in our local paper about a YouTube video featuring how Canadians drink milk from bags. Who knew this daily activity was news worthy? I did not know that this was weird to most people around the world because, well, because I spend a lot of time in my basement quilting so I don't know what's going on in the world! LOL! If you want to see the video on how we purchase and drink milk, click here.
Darlene from Quilting Daze wrote an interesting post about quirks on her blog - click here and scroll down to january 16th to see her stitchery blocks, read her post and then read all the comments from her readers...too funny!

This morning I went to Thelma's blog to see her finished quilt top and she is celebrating her 100th blogpost with a quilt giveaway...yes a beautiful quilt! If you leave a comment and tell something quirky about yourself, you are entered in the draw - click here to enter. I had no trouble coming up with lists of quirky things about myself.
Which leads me to today's blog post...the top 5 quirky quilty things about me:
1) I never throw out any fabric scraps when I'm quilting. I keep even the smallest useable pieces and keep the really small bits like dog ears in jars, which I call my "Quilter's Jelly". I haven't posted a quilt made of my mini bits in a while (here is an old one to see) but I always have one on the go. And I am always collecting are a few of my jelly jars on the window ledge.
2) Yep...I collect the thread bits too! I am only tempted to throw out beige thread snips...everything else goes in this great jar given to me by my friend Louise.
3) I listen to CBC radio podcasts when I am quilting. I download the podcasts and listen to them when I have time to quilt. My favorites are "The Vinyl Cafe" with Stuart McLean,  "DNTO" with Sook-Yin Lee, and "The Next Chapter" with Shelagh Rogers.
4) Oh yah...did I mention I save everything?!? Including all the ends of my binding strips!  Here is my binding bits basket! (Don't say anything about the aging UFO under the basket...I'm working on it!)
5) I take my "quilt vitamin" everyday so I can stay healthy and sane. I sew everyday. Some days it is handwork like embroidery, beading or binding, and sometimes it is piecing or quilting at the machine.
Are you a quirky quilter?!? Should we start a club?!?

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Another BeAttitudes block done

I started my BeAttitudes quilt in the summer of 2008 when it was a block of the month at Reichard's. I completed 2 of the blocks fairly quickly, which to me means I sewed them in the same year as I got the fabric! But then I got distracted by other quilts, and the project box got pushed farther and farther into the closet.
Now it is on my UFO wish list and I'm determined to work on it.
This week I stitched the ant's legs and finished Block #3...."Be Positive".
I am happier with the size of my buttonhole stitch as compared to the stitches I used in block #2 , especially around the angel's head which were too big. And I am getting quicker at buttonhole stitching around the letters.

Ta da - here are my first 3 blocks finished. I'm already 1/4 of the way there :)
Did you get a chance to listen to Bonnie Hunter interviewed on Pat Sloan's radio show? It was really interesting and I was inspired to get my stash into a more workable state...another thing for me to work on in 2010! You can download the podcasts of Pat's Creative Talk Radio here. The most recent podcast is an interview with Heidi Kaisand focusing on machine quilting. I just love listening to people talk about quilting while I'm you think I'm a quiltaholic?!?

Monday, February 01, 2010

UFO Wish List

As I visited some quilty blogs this weekend, I found myself leaving a few comments that said "Great job on your finished quilt! I have a UFO somewhere in my cupboards that looks something like it... I still really love that pattern".
Then I was wondering to myself "where the heck is that quilt"?!?
I wish some of my projects wouldn't become UFO's, especially quilts I really liked.
I was thinking about this last year when I wrote this post. At that time I made a secret list of my top 5 projects to finish and when I went back to review the list I was happy to see that I had finished 3 of the 5. That's pretty good!
1. Quilted Garden -  DONE!
2. Carolina Crossroads - needs a backing purchased
3. Double Delight - DONE!
4. Kaleidoscope - backing has been purchased but I still can't find it!
5. Triangles - DONE!
So, I am being really brave and posting a 2010 UFO Wish List on the right side of my blog with a link to the last mention of the project. Now don't go looking them up...some of them are sooo old that it's embarrasing! And some of them I've never mentioned because they are older than my blog!
I am going to try to be more disciplined about starting new projects willy nilly, and instead I plan to dig up these old things and make a plan to attack them at retreat this year (which is in 3 weeks!). I am going to figure out what each quilt needs to be finished and make a list.
Or if I decide that the quilt became a UFO because it's unfinishable for me, I'll put it up for adoption!
On my design wall today is the backing for my plaid shirts quilt.  I sewed the backing and the binding at the same time using this pile of scraps . It was a bit of a challenge for me to get enough fabric from my 7 shirts and there are only small scraps and pockets left. Now I am ready to baste and quilt!
Last week on Judy's blog there were over 70 design walls to peak at! Take a look this week and see what's going on in quilt blogland - click here.