Monday, September 28, 2015

Design Wall Monday - Country Roads

Did you get to see the lunar eclipse last night? We were totally denied. We had complete cloud cover, so now we have to wait until 2033 to see the next one. 
I was able to get some sewing time and got caught up with Lori's Quiltalong called Country Roads. These cute little 5" blocks are the end result of part #2. 

My colours vary slightly from the recommended list because I am using up the scraps from my scrap squad quilt. My blue is light teal, and I don't know yet what I will use instead of the cheddar fabric suggested. Once I see the next step revealed, I will start searching for the right fabric.
I have made other terrific quilts in quiltalongs with Lori, so I know I will like this one too. Here are a few of them: Mountain Trail, Abundance, Pink Lemonade/Cosmopolitan, and Cascadia
Thanks again to Lori for another fun mystery quiltalong!
To see more design wall postings, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Slow Sunday Stitching

Life Is Beautiful block #16

Another embroidery block is finished for my Life Is Beautiful project. This is block #16 and it is a quote by Victor Hugo. I have been pondering the meaning and I think it might mean something like...
love is the sweetest creation that a beautiful life can produce. 

Here are more of Victor's interesting quotes to ponder:

*Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.
*When a woman is talking to you, listen to what she says with her eyes.
*Initiative is doing the right thing without being told.
*Music expresses that which cannot remain silent and that which cannot be put into words.

I won't have much time for slow stitching today, but hope to have time to get a few more embroidery blocks prepared.
Moon rising at dusk last night
And of course tonight is the "super harvest blood moon" event, so there won't be time for stitching then. It's a harvest moon (first full moon near the autumn equinox) and it's fixing to be the biggest, closest and brightest moon of the year. As if that is not cool enough, there will also be a total eclipse of the moon. You can read more about it here. The last time this happened was in 1988 and the next time won't be until 2033. So this is our big chance to see an amazing and rare lunar eclipse during evening hours. My parents are moon freaks, and I remember once when we were young, they woke up all us kids in the middle of the night to go outside on the balcony to watch a lunar eclipse! 
Will you be watching the moon tonight?  
What are you sewing today? Link up your blog post below and share your hand stitching project with the slow stitchers.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Saturday Sew Along Day

It's Scrappy Saturday and I'll be sewing up some orange scraps as leader-ender blocks along with the Rainbow Scrap Challenge quilters. These are my most recently finished Alamo Star blocks that will be add to my collection. I like the variety of low, medium and high contrast blocks.

I would like to announce the winner of the draw for the free patterns from Jacquelynne Steves. There were 48 comments on the giveaway blog post, and the random number generator picked # 27, who was Laura. Congratulations Laura and I hope you enjoying trying the quilt and the needlepunch patterns.

Today I'll be working on my Cozy Afternoon quilt with the Sew Along hosted by Jacquelynn. All my blocks are made and I'm working on the layout decisions for the quilt. Jacquelynne's pattern makes a quilt about 66" square and I wanted a smaller version. So I am changing the layout using only the embroidery blocks and some outside setting triangles. 
I also need to make some fabric decisions since I don't have enough of any one fabric to make all the setting triangles. This is a terrible photo, but it does show some of the fabrics I am auditioning. By the end of the day, it will all be decided.  Come join us over at the sew long if you have some sewing time on your schedule today.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Finished Quilt - Long Post

My fourth Scrap Squad quilt is finished! For this assignment I made a pattern called "Blue Bayou" by Kate Colleran. It is from the September/October issue of Quiltmaker magazine.
Deciding on the layout was the highlight of making this quilt. There are so many possible options in setting these blocks together. Of course I tried out all of the layouts in Quiltmaker magazine on my design wall to see what would happen when each block was twisted, turned, and set differently beside it's neighbour.
Option 1 - love what the darker teal/blue is doing but didn't like the light/blah 16 patch blocks that emerged.

Option 2 - a little frenetic for my liking

Option 3 - I like what the red pinwheels are doing in this layout

Option 4 - This is a variation on option #1 and again I don't like the light/blah 16 patch blocks.

Option 5 - This is fun...I just noticed that the top left corner block isn't turned properly!

Option 6 - I really like this layout and it was my second choice.

Option 7 - Fun zigzag layout.
After all the block play, I loaded the photos on my computer and after viewing them several times, finally decided that I really liked option #1 the best. And if I pulled the third and fourth columns down one block, it got rid of the light/blah 16 patch block that I didn't like, and gave it a zigzag look that I loved. Perfect!
Option 8 - my favourite!

Confluence at the confluence
I call this quilt "Confluence" which according to Mr. Webster means "a coming or flowing together, meeting, or gathering at one point". The design is a confluence of two of the possible layouts, and of course I had to do a photo shoot at the confluence of the two rivers in my town.

While trying to get a good photo of the quilt, the clouds started to clear away, and the sun came streaming through which made my camera very unhappy. Makes for interesting photos though :)

And then when Mr Max (the granddog) came to visit, I had to try a photo shoot with him. He had forgotten all his posing skills that I had taught him previously. But just look at this cheeky fur baby - does he look guilty or what?!? And his left eye changed colours to match the quilt... that's kind of wierd!

One last photo - the back of the quilt is just chunks of leftover fabric sewn together to use it up. You can maybe see here that I have adopted 
Martha Schellingerhoud's idea of using the same colour of thread in the bobbin as you are quilting with. I like how it makes the back of the quilt more interesting.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Trauma Recovery

Great news! My blog photos from the last 5 years have re-emerged from the ether!
My son and I worked on my computer yesterday for 2 hours, and we (and by "we", I mean "he"!) installed new hard drives and downloaded stuff like a new web browser and blah, blah, blah, I'm not sure what! 

The dusty guts of my trusty old computer
It was like doing CPR on my old computer. Never once did he suggest "putting it down" which bodes well for me in the future, eh?!?! LOL
He did almost give up at one point. We were unable to locate my photos in Picasa, which is where my blog photos have been stored for the past 9 years. This past week I discovered that I had a new Google Plus account, which I didn't ever sign up for because I don't like it and I didn't want it. And somehow the photos were stored on that Google Plus thing, and disappeared when I tried to get rid of it. 
No can do! You cannot unsubscribe from Google Plus. But you can lose a lot of photos in the process.
2 GB of old memory in my hand

Once my son figured out where the photos had gone, he was able to learn from his internet research how to retrieve them. And he did! Although he tried to convince me that everything about computers is logical and based on algorithms, I experienced the whole traumatic event as illogical and mysterious.
Wow... this was another huge lesson for me. I am way too attached to my blog everything. My son said "Nothing is permanent Mom." 
Amazingly the photos have reappeared, I am recovering from the trauma, and I have discovered that my son is actually a wise old magician!
This event was the push I needed to get my blog published in a more permanent form, such as a book. That will be my goal for the weekend - to research options for printing. And then Mr. Google Plus won't be able to take all that history away randomly. 
My wise son also texted me: "Technology is like a shovel. You can use it to plant a garden or you can hit yourself over the head with it!" 
How did he get so smart? 

I can now be found in my sewing room, trying to recover from the trauma of hitting myself over the head with this technological shovel! I am sewing little pieces together for Lori's Country Roads mystery quiltalong. Here are the parts for 9 blocks.
And if the computer is indeed fixed, and stays fixed, tomorrow will be the big reveal of my next Scrap Squad quilt!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Now you see it, now you don't!

For some unknown reason my blog lost a lot of photos today. Perhaps it was just a random computer gremlin? I started reloading some photos that I still have on my computer for the posts from the past couple of weeks, including the photo on the blog header that just evaporated. But then I realized that my blog is actually missing most of the photos going back about three years.
Yep... about 5 YEARS of photos are GONE.
That is way worse (for me) than fabric being gone.
Is this another "let it go" lesson for me? 
I have no idea what to do about this and am open to suggestions.

Did you ever wonder what more than 70" of a quilt shoved into the harp of a domestic sewing machine looks like.
Now you know!
It has been a real workout!
This is a test to see if the photo will actually show up on the blog. 
Yes... I see it.
Now, will it still be there tomorrow? We shall see.
I won't hold my breath!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Design Wall Monday

What's on my design wall today?
Absolutely nothing but threads :)
I've been busy with my next Scrap Squad quilt. 
This is one of the fabrics in the quilt backing. I really love it, and have been saving hoarding it. I looked at it again this week and knew it was perfect to put in the backing, but hesitated. 
I knew I couldn't cut it up to sew in the pieced quilt top, but why couldn't I put it in the backing as a whole piece??
Answer: because then it would be gone, and not in my fabric collection any more.
In my brief moments of sanity I know that this is just ridiculous. But I also know that you fabric collectors out there in blog land understand this dilemma. Coin collectors don't spend their collection, and stamp collectors don't use their prize stamps (do people even have those hobbies anymore?!?)
Sometimes it's hard to actually use your favourite fabrics. 
But really the fabric is not "gone". 
It is in a quilt. 
I guess it's another "let it go" lesson that I wrote about yesterday. So I got over myself, and sewed it into the backing. 
And on to the quilting...
I picked out these 3 thread thread colours for the machine quilting.
How many bobbins do you wind when you start machine quilting a big quilt on a domestic sewing machine? I wound 5 bobbins to start this time for a 70"+ quilt.
If you want to see some real design wall posts, hop over to Patchwork Times and see what quilters are creating on their design walls this week.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Slow Sunday Stitching - Abscission

Fall is my favourite season and I like to be outside as much as possible to soak up the sensory pleasures of the season. I love the sound of the rustling leaves that crunch when you walk on them, the sight of the beautiful gold, orange and red fall colours, and the smell of the decaying leaves in the forest. 
If you like to collect fun words, here's a good one for you - abscission. This is the process by which trees let go of their leaves. That's right... they just let them drop off. 

It's a good reminder to us to do the same - to discard that which no longer serves us. 
Just let it go. Loosen that grip, and stop clinging to what we think we need.

Of course, it's easier said than done!

Have you ever tried a butterfly release? I just happened to get a butterfly that was reluctant to let go. It just clung on to my finger. 
We bonded. We talked... mostly it was me doing the talking ;)
I briefly considered stuffing that beautiful creature in my pocket and taking it home. But I didn't. I waited patiently, explaining about the wonderful adventure waiting just beyond those trees.
And then, just like that, it let go and flew away.
Mission accomplished.

Today I will be slow stitching outside, enjoying the beautiful fall weather while I put a few more stitches in this embroidery block. I will be thinking about abscission and what needs to fall away.   

What are you hand stitching today? 
Link up your blog post below and share your progress with us. 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Scrappy Saturday

Just a wee bit of orange sewing has been going on here this week. A few Alamo stars were made as leader-ender blocks, and a couple of pumpkin seeds were hand stitched. I am using up some small pieces of orange left over from my first scrap squad quiltTo see what the rainbow scrappers are accomplishing, hop over to the Saturday link up. Angela has a draw going on to win a bundle of Vicki's yummy hand dyed fabric. (I won a package of her fabric last year and loved it - you can see the quilt I made here)
The majority of my sewing time this week has been focused on finishing my next scrap squad quilt, which will be posted on Friday on the Quiltmaker blog
I am struggling with some perfectionistic tendencies about these seam joins. This just does not make me happy. Only 1 of the 4 HST blocks are accurately positioned at this join, in spite of using a thousand pins.  Sheesh ....that's a 25% success rate.  And that is how it's going overall with the piecing of these blocks. I know I can do better than that, but it's these darn bias triangle edges that are kicking my butt! 
Okay... enough complaining, gotta get back to "work"!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Scrap Squad Quilt #4

On the design wall today are the triangles I have been sewing  for my next Scrap Squad quilt. If you have the September/October Quiltmaker magazine, you can probably guess which quilt I am making. These blocks are 12", which seem enormous to me after making 4" chickens with such tiny pieces last week.
The hardest part of this quilt is dealing with all the bias edges on these block components. I am just hoping that the stretching will be minimal and that they will play nicely together when it's time to build the blocks. Most of the fun with constructing this quilt will be in chosing the final layout.

Did you sign up for FNSI?
This is what I'll be doing - sewing hundreds of triangles together. A very exciting life I lead!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Just Say NO!

Sometimes you have to face the truth. You know what I mean? The things we hide from ourselves, and don't like to talk about? Well, I have a problem (just one you ask!?!?)
Here's the truth:

I have thrown myself with wild abandon into way too many quilting projects that require more hours to complete than I will have in this life time.  I am efficient with time management, and never "waste" time, but here's the problem - my brain has too many tabs open.
I am starting to understand that I not magic, and possess no superhuman capabilities.  Even when you love every single minute of an activity, there is a limit to what can be accomplished with only 24 hours in the day.
Exhibit A - my fridge
Yes, I use a fridge to store some quilting projects. 
Doesn't everyone?!? 
In this fridge I can see parts for 8 quilting  projects:

**top shelf is Alamo Stars, Omigosh blocks at the back, a few single pumpkin seeds in the front, and the Carrie Nation blocks on the right
** middle shelf is completed pumpkin seeds on the left, Life is Beautiful in the middle, and Votes for Women on the right. 
** bottom shelf has some beading projects inside the blue bag, and on the right are civil war bowtie blocks for a swap, and the pink box has palm branch blocks.

Each of these projects was started with glorious enthusiasm and the intention to make a great quilt. The collection of blocks, fabrics, parts and plans makes me happy. All of it... I love looking in the fridge and seeing all of it.
But seriously, if I am facing the truth, this is getting out of hand. How many refrigerators and UFO closets can one quilter have?!?!

I must learn to say NO to all the fun that might be had in starting new projects.  I have turned down many many wonderful quilt projects this year that I would really enjoy making. I have said that difficult word... NO... to many adventures, classes, projects, and fun. I have faced up to the fact that I can't do it all. And trying to "do it all" is stressful.

Here are some examples from this past month:

Jen Kingwell QAL Badge** Juliann is hosting a Jen Kingwell Quilt Along I love Jen's patterns, especially Georgetown On My Mind. Jen's method of creating a quilt makes my heart sing. Check out her designs here.  Juliann posted some fun links to visit from the quilt along. How can I resist this?  

Purchase the Pattern**a unique opportunity to recreate an 1858 quilt called the Shenandoah Valley Botanical Album Quilt, and help raise funds for the Virginia Quilt Museum. Such a great opportunity, with an intriguing and challenging design. This would help to improve my applique skills. But it would be a very long term project. How can I start another long term project when I am already struggling with a too long list of UFO's?!?

Sew Fresh Quilts
**the Dog Gone Cute quilt along with Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts. I almost signed up to be part of the blog hop in October, which would mean that I had to finish the quilt by October *gulp*. I looked at my schedule, calculated time requirements, and said to myself "don't you even think about it"!!

**Lori is hosting another quiltalong, and I just can't say no to that! It's scrappy and small, and I love Lori's quiltalongs. Click for fabrics requirements and step #1, just in case your resolve is also wavering!

Do you share my overcommitment challenge? Do you also find the online quilting world to be a wonderful but  overwhelmingly stimulating place to be sometimes? Do you have any amazing insights or helpful tips you can share?

Monday, September 14, 2015

Cozy Afternoon - Block #5

Today is the release of the 5th block for the Cozy Afternoon quilt. It has another adorable embroidery block that you can chose to make for the centre. If you are not into embroidery, you can make a pieced block instead. Hop over to Jacquelynne's to see more ideas and to sign up for the free patterns if you haven't already.

The instructions are excellent, but due to "user error", I did have a bit of an issue in finishing my block. 
I pieced some scrappy strips and when I cut them to attach to the centre block, I cut the wrong angle. UGH. Clearly this is not going to work!  Do over. Don't you wish we could have "do-overs" in life as well as in quilting?!?!

Oh well, I easily redid that corner piece and cut it correctly, and here's my finished block.
If you have been sewing along with this project, you will be happy to learn that you can purchase adorable note cards and labels with the Cozy Afternoon theme - click here to see them.

And as always, Jacquelynne is giving away a pattern to one of my blog readers. This is the giveaway pattern. Just leave a comment below and tell me if you've ever tried punchneedle before? I have the tools and the interest but haven't tried it yet.
The draw will be closed next Sunday and the winner announced on Monday.
Good luck!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Slow Sunday Stitching

This week I finished a 12" block for the Aberfoyle Fall Fair block challenge. The theme is 175 years of agriculture and each block has to have the three challenge fabrics.
I started with some machine pieced 4" chicken blocks (see Friday's post) and after the first 3 blocks decided to try to applique a corn stalk in the middle of the block... you know, for the chickens to have something to eat.

I altered a pattern from the "Use it up" book to make the corn stalk, which had to fit between the two columns of chickens. I was delighted that my hand applique skills have improved enough that I was able to stitch a design that was quite complicated (for me) with lots of thin pieces, points, and curves. 

So here it is... hope you can tell that it's a corn stalk!?!

I call it "We feed the chickens and the chickens feed us! 

What are you hands stitching today?
Link up your blog post below and share your creativity with us.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Friday Chickens

This week I have been sewing some little chicken blocks. I used the pattern from this old book "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without". I have owned this book for a long time and still like all the patterns in it. 

But these 4" chicken blocks were quite a challenge. Here are the 18 pieces cut out and ready to assemble.

Some of the pieces are just so tiny. In this photo I am sewing together pieces that are .75" x 1". This is precision sewing at it's best! There is no wiggle room here. There is not enough room to stretch or fudge a seam. You either cut and sew it right...
or you don't.

Here she is, hot off the presser. Her wing is sideways and there is no time for a wingectomy, so it's staying that way!
Good thing the weekend is here and there will be lots of time for sewing up chickens!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Civil War Bowtie Swap

I signed up for the civil war bowtie block swap that Barb organized for blog land quilters. I'll bet you're not surprised that I couldn't resist.

My blocks are sewn and ready to pop in the mail. Bowtie blocks are fun to sew, but it's an added pressure when they are going to other quilters, and they needed to be the exact right size. So my quilter's OCD kicked in and I measured every single block. Blocks that were too big or too small are staying here to be in my quilt. 
It's been a long time since I've worked with my collection of civil war reproduction fabric. My favourite civil war quilt was the one I made for my son - click here to see it.

I am already starting to think about layout possibilities for these bowtie blocks, which won't be swapped until October.
I have made a few bowtie quilts previously:

 * a 30's reproduction quilt which has the blocks in a ring/circular layout with a striped sashing. The blocks are 6" and it is one of my favourite quilts.

*a mini bowtie quilt with 2" blocks in the ring layout (that was won by Deanna in a blog draw a few years ago).

* a 4" bowtie block project (which is in UFO closet) that I worked on last year at Quilt Camp. It's not finished yet, but it has the blocks in a straight set.

I wonder what layout these blocks will prefer?