Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy? New Year's Eve

A very non-quilting New Year's Eve day has been happening here and I am really annoyed. I had a very full quilt day planned. I had hoped to finish my UFO project today. 
Not happening. 
Also I had a really good start on step #5 of Bonnie Hunter's Celtic Solstice mystery while watching QuiltCam last week. I made an incorrect block right off the bat, so I left it on my sewing table while I continued to sew to encourage myself not to repeat that error too many times! Today I was going to finish those 100 blocks and post about it.  
Not happening.
I have spent most of the day traveling between my bed and the washroom. Again. Such a crappy way to end the year - pardon the pun! 
Bonnie calls these "split triangle units", but I know them as "shaded four patch" blocks. I did get maybe half of my step #5 blocks done, and I really like them. I had some fun on the design wall seeing what could be done with them. 
Did I mention lately that I love my "Angels Among Us" fabrics?
Can't wait to see the next step on Friday!
To see more blog posts about the mystery, hop over to the link up party - click here.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Design Wall Monday

On the design wall today is my UFO project of the month. I started piecing these Civil War sampler blocks in January 2011. 
It was a project on Barbara Brackman's blog and I enjoyed making the blocks throughout that year, and learning some history about the Civil War. This project was on my UFO list for 2013 and here it is almost the end of the year and they are finally making it into a quilt top. I have many of the vertical sashings sewn on and need to cut and sew the horizontal sashings. Oh yah - and figure out the borders!
My goal is to get this quilt top completely together by the last day of the year... which is tomorrow! Yikes!
What do you think the odds are of that?!?! LOL
To see more design walls on the last link up of the year, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Last Slow Sunday Stitching for 2013

Welcome to Slow Sunday Stitching - a celebration of all kinds of hand stitching! 2013 was a great year for slow stitching - 52 weeks have passed in which we could enjoy our own hand stitching, and be inspired by the projects of quilty friends. Thank you to each of you that linked up your blog posts on Sundays and shared your stitching with us. Last year, we had a total of 641 blog posts that were linked up to Slow Sunday Stitching! That's a lot of s l o w stitches!
At last week's link up, there was a draw for an applique pattern, and the winner was comment #12 which is Deb in Florida. Congratulations to Deb and thanks for being such a regular contributor to the Slow Sunday Stitching party!
Over the past year I have shared my progress on various projects including binding quilts, hand quilting two projects (Journey of a Quilter and The Accidental Quilt), making a scrap rug, stitching some tiny hexagons, hand piecing some blocks, improving my applique stitch,  and I did a bit of hand embroidery. And I enjoyed every single stitch - the perfect, consistent stitches, and the crazy, messy ones too! 
This week I am so proud to tell you that put the final stitches in my "Up, Up and Away" quilt! This quilt was impulsively started at quilt retreat in February, hence it became named The Accidental Quilt. Amazingly, it was pieced and hand quilted, and finished in the same calendar year!
My quilt model Max was totally uncooperative... this puppy needs some training since he has a Grandma who is a quilter!

I was able to get a nice photo of my finished quilt hanging outside before the sun went down. Can I say again that I just love everything about this quilt!?!
The pattern is from the book called Sunday Morning Quilts by Cheryl Arkison and Amanda Jean Nyberg.  
And then I had an amazing synchronistic experience. Just as I was finishing the stitches in this quilt, a gift arrived in the mail for me - 
 "A Month of Sundays". It is hot off the press, and I can't believe that I won a copy in a draw on Cheryl's blog called Dining Room Empire. I love this blog (go read her wonderful post about the reality of Christmas, which reminds me to say "Thank You" to my Mom for years of fun and memorable Christmases past!)
And just look at the card Cheryl put inside the book! She even autographed the book for me! 

What a wonderful Christmas gift - thank you Cheryl!  And what a great book this is, full of patterns and tips, and amazing photography. 
So now that this quilt is finished ("out with the old") I am I wondering which of the projects in the new book I will be tempted to start next ("in with the new")?!?
For today, I'm back to hand quilting my Journey of a Quilter. I am really close to finishing that one too, so will start to think about which hand quilting project is going to be next in my hoop. 
And I have a new hand embroidery project to start in the new year that I can't wait to show you!
2014 holds 52 more weeks of hand stitching link ups at Kathy's Quilts. Grab my button (code is on the right sidebar) to put on your blog, and make a commitment to yourself to enjoy some relaxing hand stitching with us on Sundays throughout next year.  What are you proud of accomplishing with your hand work last year?  Link up your blog post below and share your current project or ideas for what you plan to work on next year. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Last Scrappy Saturday Post for 2013

I have been participating in Angela's scrap challenge since January 2011 and it has been such a great experience!  I am so delighted that she is continuing the challenge into next year!! I have made so many fun blocks, sewn up a ton of scraps and enjoyed the comradery of fellow scrap lovers every Saturday on the scrappy link up party.
For the last few weeks I have been thinking about the Rainbow Scrap Challenge projects that I have worked on over the past year, and have been trying to decide which ones will continue and which ones might need to be finished. 
Here is the list of my scrap challenge projects:

1) Palm Branches 
This block pattern ("Red Herring")is from Kristy at the Quiet Play blog. By the way, Kristy has a fun free BOM starting in January - Sew Kitschy
It has been a while since I sewed some palm branch blocks, but I still really like them. They are great for using up really small scraps since the blocks finish at 6" x 7".  I enjoy paper piecing, and am happy to have a regular chance to make one of these blocks.  I would like to add more blocks to this collection, so this project will continue next year. 

2) Carrie Nation 
This project is just "OK" for me. I wouldn't mind finishing this one up in early 2014 since I don't really enjoy piecing them. I don't seem to have 2.5" squares readily available and have sometimes ended up looking for yardage to cut into and that is not really the purpose of this challenge. Also these blocks lack challenge for me and I'd like to do something else, although they do make a great scrappy quilt. So the plan for this one is to make a few more blocks and make it into a finished quilt asap. 

3) Alamo Stars 
OH yah... I love these tiny little star blocks. They are 2.25" and are like little sparkly diamonds. I like how some blocks have the star fabric centers and some have background centers. That was a good decision!  
I sure have used up a lot of tiny batik scraps... and these blocks are a perfect leader/ender project. It is hard to describe why these blocks make me so happy, when I am sewing them and when I am admiring them!!  There are many more finished blocks which I have to find somewhere in my sewing room, and then will take a more recent photo of the whole collection. The Alamo Stars will definitely continue into next year.

4) Pumpkin Seeds 

I started this project to try to improve my applique stitch, and I think  have accomplished that goal. My curves are smoother and my points are pointier, and I think I'm ready to move on to other applique challenges now. But I do want to round out the balance, so this year I will focus on adding more colours that are needed in this quilt. The challenge with this project right now is the goal that I set of making this a true charm quilt and finding different neutral background squares. I think this would be a fun quilt to hand quilt next year... or the year after that!

5) Omigosh 
This is a multi year, long term scrap project. The blocks are tiny and are perfect for using up my 1" scraps. It will continue into 2014 and likely in the years to follow! I am just really getting started on this one.

6) Spools 
What can I say? I love these little scrappy blocks. They will continue next year for sure! Sometimes they are leader/ender blocks and sometimes I just cut and sew them for relaxing fun! I need to get a more recent photo of this block collection too and start to figure out how many more blocks are needed for a bed sized quilt (this one is for ME!) and in which colours.

7) Crumbs
I don't know why, but I seem to have lost interest in this project over the year. There are enough blocks to make a nice size lap quilt for the comfort quilt collection at my guild so maybe it's time to finish this one up.

As I write this blog post I am thinking about how amazing it is that little bits of fabric and time add up to such beauty! 
Each of these projects uses up specific kinds of scraps and participating in this challenge has helped me be more organized and thoughtful about my scrap problem collection (although you wouldn't believe that if you saw my quilting studio!)
Also I am thinking about how much I love each one of these projects. But I also know that it is important to clear out old energy to make room for the new... and we all know how much I love to start new quilting projects! So for 2014, my plan will be to finish up two of these projects (Carrie Nation and Crumbs) and continue with the other five. To see what other scrap challenge quilters are working on at the end of 2013, hop over to the SoScrappy link up.

Coming Back From Christmas

What a Christmas hangover I have this year! 

There was way too much of this!
And other things that catch up with you eventually - like hours of traveling and being so happy to see friends and family that you talk into the wee hours of the morning, and forget that sleep is necessary for survival!

And not nearly enough of this! Which is also necessary for (my) survival!

Finally, today I have some time to myself. I will download my photos, and write a blog about my favorite Christmas gifts this year.
And I will get my last Rainbow Scrap Challenge blog post written... look for that later today. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Machine Quilting for Christmas

What a busy month!
On top of everything else going on this month, I did some machine quilting for a friend so she could finish up a quilt for Christmas. Such beautiful fabrics!
I quilted a holly leaf kind of pattern on the diagonal of the quilt and it will make the quilt nice and light for snuggling up in. I don't like dense quilting for a lap quilt since all that quilting makes the quilt feel too stiff.
For a change, I am not madly finishing up any quilts to give this year. I have been busy with the mystery quilt, my December UFO, and two wedding quilts that should have been finished in the summer and that I would like to finish up before 2014 arrives. That's unlikely! 
But I will enjoy every quilting moment that I can find over
the holidays, and I hope you do too. If you are visiting family and friends, take along your hand stitching and double your fun! 
My blog posting may be sporadic over the holidays, so I will wish all of you my wonderful blog readers a Merry Christmas! 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Design Wall Monday

There is a lot to enjoy in quilt blog land today. It is Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times and the week 4 link up for Celtic Solstice at Quiltville

This was on my design wall at the end of last week - step #3 of the Celtic Solstice mystery. I was not a happy camper. There was not enough contrast in these blocks for my liking. The colours are way off in the photo and makes the pinks look purple. I sure hope the rest of the quilt design will perk up these duds!

Then I got busy cutting and sewing strips for step #4.
Doesn't that look so cool how the fabric swirls like that behind the machine?!? It looks like ribbon candy!

I was much happier with my blocks from step #4. They are simple four patches but they look pretty on the wall and could be their own quilt. But they are part of a much larger mission, and I can't wait to see the next step being released on Friday!
It is amazing that I have been able to keep up with the mystery at this busy time of year. 

The main reason I am completely caught up is because my shopping and wrapping for Christmas is not finished. 

And the reason for that is the ice storm we had over the weekend.
Most places in town, including my house, had no hydro, so we spent a lot of time at my parents, who thankfully had power most of the time. 
That meant they also ended up with most of the extended family hanging out at their house to stay warm!
This is the view of my parent's house from the sidewalk. Many tree branches snapped off or were hanging to the ground from the weight of the ice. The sound when a branch breaks and falls to the ground is surreal - a loud crack followed by a smashing sound, like a thousand glasses shattering. 
Our power was restored by last night and the house is warm once again. I sure hope tomorrow is better for driving and finishing up Christmas preparations.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Slow Sunday Stitching

From Seven Cherubs

There was very little slow activity of any kind at my house this week, especially stitching. Everything everywhere seems to be in overdrive the week before Christmas. People are stressed, they drive crazier, sleep less, drink more, party more, and shop more. I don't like it! 
I need to quilt more and breathe more!

I put the binding on "Up, Up, and Away" (aka the Accidental Quilt) last week and then remembered that I had wanted to quilt some stitches at the end of each row. So I have been doing a bit of that this week to de-stress.

And today I intend to do a lot of it!

I am loving the new thimble I bought. 
Who could resist a product called a "Fingerhut mit"?!
It has lots of ridges and dimples to catch the needle. You might think the quality of my stitching would improve with my new fingerhut mit, but not so far! That's okay.
 I am loving how it looks no matter the size or inconsistency of stitches. I think I have converted myself to using coloured threads for quilting. No more white or neutrals for me. I want to see all those stitches I took!
What are you hand stitching today?
Share your project with us in the links below and your name will go in the draw for this applique pattern. I bought it a long time ago and I know I will never make it, so I am passing it on to a fellow slow stitcher.
I want to wish all my Slow Stitching friends a very Merry Christmas! 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Scrappy Saturday

I am enjoying the "no colour" month for the Scrappy Rainbow Challenge. I am taking this opportunity to clear off my cutting table and the surrounding area (which would be way too embarrassing to show you a picture of!)

I have been enjoying sewing spool blocks as leader/enders for the mystery sewing, and here are 4 finished spool block sets using some of my mystery fabrics. I just love this spool project, so will be continuing to work on it well into next year.

When cleaning off my cutting table, I am cutting every piece that is not specifically for a project into usable scrap sizes... 2" squares, 1.5" x 3.5" (for spool blocks), 1.5" squares and 1" strips. These sizes all will be sewn into blocks next year, and I am enjoying the rainbow of scraps this month, as well as a cleaner surface on my table!
I also finished sewing the 2.25" Alamo Star blocks I had cut in November (and that are the pieces cut in my photo header). These blocks are fairly low contrast in comparison to the other star blocks I've sewn this year,    but they will find a happy place to live in the finished quilt.
Hop over to SoScrappy to see what other scrappers are working on today.

Friday, December 20, 2013


I am almost caught up with the Celtic Solstice mystery, which is awesome because part #4 is being posted today!
I watched some QuiltCam on Wednesday night and sewed many of the step #3 blocks on my Sweet Baby Jayne sewing machine. There is so much stuff sitting around for Christmas that it was hard to find a surface to put the machine on! I just pushed the wrapping paper to the side, set up my little Singer, and started sewing. Can't wait to see what the next step is!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Mid Month UFO Report

Well, the month is more than half over, and I have not accomplished much on my December UFO. My goal is to finish my Civil War Sampler quilt before the end of the year, and still it is just a pile of blocks! However, I did purchase a wonderful border fabric which is on the left of the photo, and I am going to run that strong vertical print all around the outside.  
am thinking about layout options. Does this quilt want sashing? Cornerstones? Vertical rows of blocks? I haven't made a decision yet, so I can't start to sew.  
But I am doubly motivated to finish this quilt because Barbara Brackman is indeed starting another sampler project next year called Threads of Memory about the underground railroad. Of course I will start that project, and it will only be one block a month which is more manageable than a block a week. 
I have almost two weeks left in the year to finish this Civil War quilt. 
I'm sure I can do it. 
Christmas, I'm not so sure about!! 
To see more Mid Month UFO Reports, hop over to a Lovely Year of Finishes link up.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Celtic Solstice Mystery Update - Step #2

Step #2 of Celtic Solstice is finished at Kathy's Quilts!

The chevrons were so fun to sew. The units were time consuming but not difficult if you pay attention, which I didn't always do.
This is a great layout... I can envision a whole quilt made from just these units alone.

Here are 100 chevrons!
In little piles and then transferred for storage in a spinach box with all the units from part #1.

And now... on to part #3.

Pinwheels...how much fun can one quilter stand?!?!
I am cutting 2" strips with the Easy Angle ruler. These fabrics look pretty together but I am a little worried about the lack of contrast in the blocks. We shall see how it goes. It's a mystery!
Tonight at 9 pm is QuiltCam so guess what I'll be sewing?!?  You can see more mystery quilt link ups over at Quiltville.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A New Sewing Machine

I got a brand new sewing machine, all the way from England! My friend just got back from a "trip across the pond" and she brought me this souvenir.
I love it!
I am having a hard time sewing with it... since it's a candle, and made of wax!

And to give you a perspective on how small it is, here's a picture of me holding it. 
Isn't it adorable?!?! 
What a fun gift for a quilter!

And speaking of sewing related fun, while I was sick last week I enjoyed watching the video called "The Birth of a Sewing Machine in 1934" (just click on the title to view). It's a long video (about 70 minutes) but I was sick, so what else did I have to do but lay around and watch videos?! It is vintage footage of the Singer factory in 1934. There is no sound at all with this video but it was fascinating to me. I loved seeing the 1934 workforce arriving to work at the factory all dressed up!
There were so many times while watching the footage when I said to myself "that does not look safe"!  There were work stations and set ups where workers could easily be burned, or maimed, or get a needle in their eye. And so many possibilities for repetitive stress injury! They worked so hard at this factory to make these classic sewing machines. And to make the needles for the sewing machines (at a rate of 18,000 needles made per hour!)
The complex machinery used to make sewing machines, even back then, just blows my mind. Watching this video made me appreciate my 1901 Singer treadle even more! 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Design Wall Monday

On my design wall is a finished quilt top!    Last week I had the blocks on the wall and when I transferred them to the sewing machine, I somehow mixed up a row and ended up with a leftover block. Some eagle-eye blog readers spotted which block it was, and made the construction process much easier.
The pattern is called "Countdown to Christmas" and is from Temecula Quilt Co.
I really like how it turned out and hope to be able to finish the quilting by Christmas. Hop over to Patchwork Times to see more design wall postings.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Slow Sunday Stitching - Thank you!

I just love Sundays! 
Not only because it is now my practice to make time to rest and do some relaxing hand stitching, but also because of the Slow Sunday Stitching link up party. Thank you to each blogger who links up with the Slow Sunday Stitching party, and to each person who takes the time to comment and encourage our slow stitching friends. As the links appear throughout the day, it is almost like a little Christmas to see the wonderful projects being stitched and to be inspired by the words and stitches of other creative souls. Last week was a great lineup of projects to enjoy! We had some binding, applique, cross stitch, embroidery, crochet, hand quilting, crazy quilting, english paper piecing, and some block piecing by hand... what more could a hand stitcher ask for?!?! 
I would also like to say thank you to Connie over at Freemotion by the River for making the link up button for me, and thank you to Angela over at SoScrappy for the instructions on how to get the magical code to link it up. If you are not a blogger, you would be amazed at how many steps it takes to host a weekly linky blog post, and it really does "take a village"! Thank you to everyone! 

This is sounding like an Academy Award speech (cue the music!) and I didn't even win an award! I  just want to acknowledge those who have been so generous with their help along the way.
Okay...back to Slow Sunday Stitching. I will be working on my Accidental Quilt, aka "Up, Up and Away".  I machine stitched the binding to the front of the quilt, and today I will be hand stitching it down on the back of the quilt. 

I found the perfect fabric for the binding - Marmalade by Bonnie and Camille. 

A little pack of Marmalade squares that was gifted to me at February's quilt camp started this project in the first place, so I was happy to find some yardage for the binding. I will be finishing the stitching on this binding today!
What are you hand stitching? Share your project in the links below... can't wait to see what you're working on today!