Monday, December 31, 2018

2019 Planning Party

Sometimes I start the blogging new year with a photo of the UFO closet. You can see my 2015 post here and truthfully, the closet still looks pretty much the same today! I can compare the photos and see that some of the quilts are different in each photo. I tell myself that progress has been made in 4 years, but I have come to accept the fact that this view of the UFO closet, chock full of quilt tops will be a constant until I can't quilt anymore. I understand that I will chronically start more projects than I finish, and will always have many projects on the go in various stages of completeness. 
It's just how I roll!
Over the years I have tried to set goals to impact this situation, but to no avail apparently because look at the closet!
So what do I want to accomplish in 2019?
I made a list of projects to complete from 2018 and was shocked to find 14 projects! Here is the list:

1)  Clarissa
2)  Circle of Squares
3)  Secret Santa
4)  Blue Anita’s Arrowhead
5)  Blockheads I
6)  Square Dance 1 and 2
7)  Emerald Stars
8)  Pumpkin Spice latte mystery tabletopper
9)  Deb’s floral mystery quilt
10) On Ringo Lake
11) Improv dots and dashes
12) Churn Dash swap blocks
13) Wacky Web with paper templates
14) Snowman charm tabletopper

Now these are just quilts from 2018. That does not include the UFO lists on the sidebar (on the right side of my blog) from previous years. It is disconcerting to see that I have several UFOs that STILL are not finished from those previous years. 
So... my goal is to complete as many of the projects on this list as possible, and to not start any new projects this year. Well, after New Years Day, because I am starting a mystery quilt that day. 

2019 Planning Party
But after that... no more new projects for sure! 
LOLOLOL

Linking up to the 2019 Planning Party over at Yvonne's... come join us and share your goals!

Finished Quilt!

It is so rewarding to have my last blog post of 2018 be about a finished quilt! This is "En Provence" which was the Quiltville mystery that started in November 2016.

En Provence

The quilt top was finished in February 2017 which was record time for me (less than 4 months). Then it sat in the UFO closet until it was aged for the perfect amount of time, which was a total of 20 months. In November I got "a bee in my bonnet" and really wanted to finish this quilt before the next Quiltville mystery started. 


The machine quilting took many hours over November and December and it was a joy to work on. The quilt measures 70" square and it was easy to manage the quilting on my domestic sewing machine, so I am encouraged to tackle some of my larger quilts this year.

This is what the quilting design looks like on the back of the quilt. I love this fabric which is from the "Good Neighbors" line by Amanda Jean Nyberg.



For the photo shoot I clipped the quilt to the fence during a rare moment when the sun was almost shining. This is the back of the quilt with the "Good Neighbors" yardage in the centre and leftover blocks and scraps on both sides. Looking at the photos I realize I forgot to put on a label. Again. I will sew one on "tomorrow".
It sure feels great to have a finished quilt on the last day of 2018!
I'm linking up to One Monthly Goal finishing party, and Design Wall Monday over at Judy's. 

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Slow Sunday Stitching

Can you believe it's the last link up of the year for the Slow Sunday Stitchers?!? We have put hundreds, perhaps thousands of stitches in our projects this year, and this is traditionally the time when we pause to recognize our achievements from the past year. I did not finish any hand stitched projects this year, but put stitches in several different multi-year projects that I am enjoying. 

Next week I'll write about my slow stitching goals for 2019, but today I'm writing about my big quilting accomplishment this month, which is finishing on my version of En Provence. This was the Quiltville mystery in 2016, and by the end of 2018 it will be a finished quilt. SO excited about that! The binding is attached, the pink threads have been chosen, and I will spend many relaxing hours today and tomorrow hand stitching the binding to the back of the quilt. It's my favourite slow stitching activity and I've been looking forward to it!


This will be my view for the next few hours. I plan to be drinking tea, visiting the link ups below, and watching old home videos. That's the perfect way to end the year (for me)!

How are you spending the last Slow Stitching Sunday of 2018? Link up your blog post below and share your project with us. My wish for all of us is to be blessed with many happy creative moments spent with needle and thread as we wrap up another year of living and stitching!


   

    An InLinkz Link-up
   

Saturday, December 29, 2018

2018 RSC Review

It's time for the last Rainbow Scrap Challenge link up of the year, which is the perfect time to review the RSC progress made in 2018. 
Circle of Squares
It was another productive year here in my studio, sewing up little bits of fabric that most sane quilters throw in the garbage.
I ended the year getting my Circle of Squares quilt top sewn together. It was such a fun project started in June 2016 and used up 160 colourful 2.5" squares with no repeats... a great scrap collection! It will go on the UFO list for finishing in 2019. I already have my quilting design in mind, so maybe this will be first on the list for January.

My biggest RSC accomplishment this year was finishing the Tied Up in Knots quilt. I worked on this quilt for 6 years and sewed 672 little 1.5" scraps into these blocks. 
I can't even tell you how much I love this quilt because it is uniquely me and combined all my favourite things ... from finding the block idea in my favourite 100 blocks magazine (pattern by Tina Curran issue #3), to the use of tiny scraps, to the scrappy backgrounds, to the machine quilting designs I created. It is an example of how participating in the RSC has helped me to create projects I love, with the encouragement of the scrappy quilters each week at the link up. 
My other big RSC accomplishment was finishing all 40 Squared Away 5" sampler blocks which used billions of small scraps. I plan to make more blocks in 2019 to make this sampler quilt bigger. Thanks again to Mari and Angela for gifting this project to the RSC community!
Thank you to Angela for years of RSC adventures! I have a true appreciation for the time commitment of hosting a weekly linkup since I know how much work goes into it. You have such a busy life and we are grateful that you continue to do this for us!
Hop over to the linkup to see more projects being finished.

Friday, December 28, 2018

String-Along!

Serendipity...
the quilting world is exploding with lots of fun inspiration and opportunities to do some string piecing. Step #4 of the Good Fortune mystery involved string piecing and it was really fun.

Bonnie Hunter's new book called String Frenzy has just been published. I have been drooling over the quilts and reading every word. I love a well written, concisely organized book. And is it weird if I even love the smell of this book!!?!??? LOL

Humble Quilts is having a stringalong for 2019 with a linky party at the end of each month, so I'll be participating in that for sure.


AND there is a Moda String-Along happening TODAY with a block check in on January 7th. My friend Debby is coming over and we are going to sew until we drop. I'm going to start with these two bags of scraps.


In February Bea is hosting a "Dust off a quilt book" blog hop. I had already signed up and wanted to make a string quilt based on Gwen Marston's string book. 
And now everywhere I look I am surrounded by string projects, string books, and string quiltalongs. 

Maybe I have died and gone to heaven?!?!

After I finish sewing the two big bags of scraps above, I'll start in on this huge bin and make a fantastic string quilt for Bea's blog hop.

***AND... step #6 of the Good Fortune mystery was posted today and guess what? 
More string piecing!

Linking up to Oh Scrap!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Paper Pieced Christmas Gift

Paper piecing is one of my favourite techniques, but I don't do it as often as I would like. It feels like a special treat to set aside time to work on a paper pieced project. I gave this treat to myself with a pattern I purchased from Paper Panache. Linda Worland is a master designer and I have been sewing her wonderful Paper Panache patterns for about as long as I have been blogging, which is 13 years!!


I decided to make Linda's Sisyphus pattern for a special friend for Christmas. Do you know the story of Sisyphus? There are different versions of what this greek myth means, but what it represents to me is...
whatever your job/life/situation is, you must continue to be persistent, try your hardest even when the situation is meaningless or hopeless, never give up, and be thankful for the journey/challenge/opportunity. It's all about effort and mindfulness, not accomplishment.

I was thinking about this the whole time I was sewing Sisyphus because this project was a real challenge! These pieces are very small. Look at the size of them compared to the sewing machine foot. Some of the pieces are so small that a number can't even fit in the space!
There are so many things to think about when paper piecing, with the odd reverse angles, and trimming the excess fabrics without cutting the pattern. I had all the components pieced and took them to the cutting mat to trim the edges and accidentally put down 2 pieces at the same time, trimming the top unit correctly and then having a fit when I saw the smaller one hiding underneath.
I'm telling you, I just couldn't believe it! The way that the 2nd unit was accidentally cut meant that there was no seam allowance on one side. The irony of wrecking this project just when I was ready to sew the whole thing together was not lost on me! 
I am the quilty version of Sisyphus!
I had to "go back down the hill" and think long and hard about how to roll the rock up the hill again. 
wrong one on the left - new version on the right
There must be a way fix that unit. Maybe add a blue strip on the edge? No that separated the body from the legs!
After trying a couple of ideas, I decided it was not reparable and I had to reprint the pattern and make a whole new section C. But I was running short on the background blue fabric and had to add in another dark blue, which wasn't too big of a challenge for a scrappy quilter.
And since I had to redo the whole unit, Sisyphus also got a wardrobe change after I decided that the first plaid did not have enough contrast with the blue background.

I did a little bit of machine quilting that you probably can't see in the photos. "Sisyphus" is quilted in the blue area, and "Never give up" in the brown area. I didn't pre-draw the design, just free motion quilted whatever came to my mind and filled in the spaces with straight, curved, or wavy lines.
Here is the completed mini quilt. It finished at about 10" square. The binding is made from 2 plaids since there was not enough of either one to go all the way around. The wonky plaid binding makes it appear as if the quilt edges are not straight, which at first was really annoying me. But now I think that's par for the course with Sisyphus. What a struggle it was... as if the creative process had to mimic the myth! 

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Good Fortune!


It has been a wonderful whirlwind of activity around here, with visiting, game playing, puzzling, cooking, and other shenanigans. Quilting time has been sparse, but I did get enough time to sew my blocks for step #5 of the Good Fortune mystery over at Quiltville. 
Also, there may have been a tiny bit of swearing going on for a few moments. Santa gave me a "pass" this year as I didn't want to be on the naughty list again!

I read the instructions, cut all the blocks, sewed the background and gold pieces together and they were the wrong size to sew to the blue triangles. Say what?!?!
I checked the instructions again. DUH! I cut my pieces with  Bonnie's Essential Triangle Tool using the HST method instead of the QST method. The instructions were clear, but my brain didn't follow them. No explanation will suffice.
I had to recut and resew all those pieces. See the wrong ones on the cutting mat above the properly sewn blocks?!? They will be pressed and I'm sure they will find their way into something... maybe the backing of the quilt?!?


Anyway, here are all my finished units in the storage box. So pretty and patiently waiting for the next step. Hop over to the Quiltville link up to see all the wonderful colour combinations quilters are using in their Good Fortune quilts.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas!

All the presents have been bought or made, they are wrapped and waiting under the tree, and I'm just waiting for this day to get started.

Gone are the days of the children waking up early (5 am!) eager to see what Santa brought. Now they are sleeping in late or working on Christmas day, and here I am wide awake, waiting for them to wake up/come over.


While waiting for the festivities to begin, I had the random number generator pick the winner of the embroidery patterns from the Slow Sunday Stitching giveaway. The winner is blog link up #8 which is Kathy's Quilting Blog... not me, another slow stitching Kathy! 



Tomorrow I will post an update of my Good Fortune mystery progress. 

Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 24, 2018

Design Wall Monday

Christmas Eve is always a magical day and I hope you are feeling peaceful and content as you enjoy this last day before Christmas. 


Christmas Eve Services

Usually I am finishing some baking, wrapping, and last minute stitching, and this year is no exception. I must like it this way, because I keep doing it year after year!

I have a tradition of putting my Grinchy UFO on the design wall for the week before Christmas. I got it out of the UFO closet, ironed it and put it on the wall.  It seems I only want to work on it for a bit of time after Christmas, once the gifts are finished and opened, and I am still in the mood for Christmas projects. I have enough Grinch fabrics to make a 2 sided quilt and hope I make some progress on it this year before I lose interest and put it away for another year. I wonder when it will be finished?


My sweet granddog Max (not to be confused with the Grinch's dog Max!) is patiently waiting for Santa to come. He has been a good dog recently and hasn't eaten any quilts. He did eat a chapstick and a sock, but is sure he is not on the "naughty" list this year!
Linking up to the weekly design wall postings at Small Quilts.
Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Slow Sunday Stitching

Welcome to the weekly hand stitching link party! It's the last Sunday before Christmas and everywhere I go I am being asked the same question...  ARE YOU READY?
Well, I haven't finished my hand made gifts, or my store bought gift shopping, or finished the baking I like to do, and have very few groceries in the fridge. But I know that I always get everything done that NEEDS to get done.

Christmas means a lot of organizing, shopping, cooking, and mountains of dishes. I don't enjoy any of those tasks but I practice mindfulness and remind myself of this Mother Teresa quote.  I do all this work so my family can have lots of fun together, and enjoy great holiday foods. 



And speaking of having fun together, on Friday night I had some friends over to sew and I wanted to share a few more photos (you can see some photos here). This gorgeous needle punch pattern that Sandy made is from the Punch Needle and Primitive Stitcher Magazine. She finished it on Friday and we all admired this lovely piece of hand work. It was perfection!

And when she was done that, she worked on hand stitching a binding. I find binding a very relaxing activity and really want to do some over the holidays, but haven't yet finished the machine quilting on En Provence. Hopefully soon. 

My sister gave me a Christmas gift by doing some unstitching for me. She removed the big mistake I made when piecing my "Secret Santa" mystery quilt (read about it here). It was a 16 piece section that had to be ripped out, rotated 180 degrees and restitched.  I greatly appreciated the hand work that she carefully did to help me get this quilt repaired.


What are you hand stitching today? Are you finishing Christmas gifts like I am? I look forward to showing you some of the things I've been making once Christmas is over.


One lucky blogger is going to win these Chickadee Hollow Christmas embroidery designs. The random draw will happen early on Christmas morning, so the link up will be open until then. We hope you will link up your blog post below and share your hand stitched projects with us.

   

    An InLinkz Link-up
   

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Friday and Saturday Shenanigans

Well we survived the l-o-n-g-e-s-t night of the year since yesterday was the winter solstice. 
I'm already tired of the darkness... 
getting up in the dark (being unable tell if is it daytime or still night), going to work in the grey, rainy weather, and driving home in the dark. There were 2 days in the last couple of weeks which were sunny and everyone went outside on their lunch breaks desperate to soak up some sunshine and feel better. 


The only sunny place is in the quilt studio, where last night was Friday Night Sew In. I made a little Christmas gift for my friends, a mug mat made from leftover HSTs from my Angel Solstice quilt, and a package of holiday napkins.

We hadn't been together for a few months and it was such a fun reunion. 
We had a few nibblies, lots of laughter, and a bit of sewing went on. Well, actually three of us (not mentioning any names) did not do any sewing! 
One was trying to repair a "new to her" toy sewing machine, one was fussy cutting fabrics for a block exchange, and one was trying to avoid sewing (WHY?!?!?!) and actually went to the MALL on a Friday night (to see the Salvation Army band play some Christmas music) and missed the first half of the sewing time!! EEEKKKKK! But then she fixed a problem for me and all was forgiven :)

Look at these custom made cloth bags that Barb's niece Erika created these for us! Aren't they fabulous?!?












Drop by the blog tomorrow to see the some of the hand stitching projects that were worked on. I didn't do any hand sewing on Friday and spent most of the evening putting pieces of the Good Fortune mystery quilt through my sewing machine.  Although I made a few mistakes (more about that in Monday's post), a lot was accomplished. 



I even continued sewing late into the night after they all went home. I got all 5 rows sewn together for my Circle of Squares RSC quilt. I started this quilt in June 2016 (click here to read about it) and one of my December RSC goals is to finish this quilt top by the end of 2018. It's totally doable!
Hop over to the weekly linkup at Angela's to see the RSC projects that are being finished.

Friday, December 21, 2018

En Provence Machine Quilting Progress

Even thought it's the week before Christmas, some  quilting progress is being made. It's called procrastination and avoiding of the tasks I dislike... mostly shopping. I would rather quilt any day than have to shop.
When I'm quilting, I don't notice how dirty my Machinger gloves are, but when I see a photo of them on the computer screen, I am appalled! 
Well, I guess it just means that I do a lot of quilting :)

I figured out how to quilt the pink stars around the edge of the quilt and made a decision on quilting the borders.  This is how the edge stars look and how I extended the straight lines into the border squares. It's a lot of starts and stops and I just stitch on the spot several times to start and end, and cut the threads off. If you've ever tried to remove machine quilting stitches started this way, you know that it is secure. It's not going to unravel and it's really hard to unstitch, so unless it's a quilt that will be judged in a show, I don't take the time to hand sew in thread ends.


I even figured out how to turn the design at the corners. There is still quite a bit of quilting to do, but I'm hoping to procrastinate some shopping and gift wrapping by focusing on getting this quilting done so that I can hand stitch the binding over the holidays. It seems like my goal of finishing this quilt before the end of the year might be possible! 
Step #5 of the new Good Fortune mystery will be posted at Quiltville today... can't wait to see what we are sewing this week.
I wonder when I will stop sewing long enough to get the Christmas tasks done?!?! LOL

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Good Fortune Step #4

It has been a busy week with not much sewing time, so I haven't had much quilty information to post. I have been working away in small bits of time on step #4 of Good Fortune. 
I frustrated myself and wasted some precious sewing time by trying to get one of my vintage machine working. "Singer Sue" is a Singer 15-91 born in 1936 that I accidentally acquired last summer. I forgot that the needle was bent so the first thing I did was try to run the machine, and snapped the needle in half, and nearly scared myself to death! Despite lots of oiling and cleaning, and TLC, I just couldn't get it running right. I haven't given up on her yet, but decided to sew on a different machine for this week.

I switched over to sew Step #4 of the Good Fortune mystery on "Ethel" a short bed Singer 301 from 1953, and it was a delightful sewing experience! Bonnie gave several methods of string piecing and regular piecing to complete this step and for the first time I decided to try her idea of piecing on phone book papers. 
I truly didn't think I would like the feeling of sewing my soft scraps of fabric onto crunchy papers. But surprisingly, I did like it! Just goes to show... you just never know what you might like until you try it!  I cut my phone book pages into pieces slightly larger than needed, strip pieced several blocks at a time, and then trimmed them to the correct size. I could get 4 blocks from each phone book page. I am using gold scraps instead of orange for this step. 

There are still several more blocks to finish up, but I just had to show some of my blocks with Bonnie's new book String Frenzy which came in the mail this week. I'm so excited to read it and start some new string piecing projects in the new year! 

Hop over to the Step #4 link up and see all the blocks being stringed this week. 
(Can I actually use "stringed" as a verb?)
Linking up to Let's Bee Social over at Lorna's.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Slow Sunday Stitching

Welcome to the weekly hand stitching party!

Are you getting all worked up about all the things you have to get done at this time of year? I usually get stressed around mid December and gradually start to scale back my grandiose Christmas projects. Reluctantly, I slowly become more realistic about what can actually be accomplished in the time I have available. 
My gift giving goals this year are:
1) not order anything on line and instead support small local businesses that I want to see continue, and 2) not go into a mall. It makes me happy to have my gift giving plan fit together with my personal values. I am making a few gifts, but can't show them on my blog until after the holidays. 
In the meantime, I am doing a bit of embroidery for relaxation. It's a great take along project, but you can see by the lack of stitches that I haven't had much waiting time this week. I'll put in some stitches today and remind myself to relax and enjoy the gifts of the season.
What are you working on? Are you feverishly trying to finish gifts you are making for the holidays? Share your projects with us below.

   

    An InLinkz Link-up