Sunday, December 4, 2016

Sunday Sundry 12-4-16

I don't know if you know this, but just thinking about a blog post doesn't get it done.  Funny how that works!

I bet I'm not alone, though, in composing something in my head that never makes it to the page.  Most of the time it's while I'm in the middle of work or another task.  The moment passes, several hours or days, maybe, and then it seems like old news.  If I can even remember what it was, that is. 

Anyway, I want to do a Quilty 365 update before the link-up expires. Nothing like a deadline to get something done!

I got on a roll and actually had most of my November circles made before the second week of the month.  That turned out to be a good thing, because then the wind went out of my sails for a little while and there was minimal-to-no sewing.

Deviating from a color of the month theme, I had more or less decided that November would be a free-for-all.  As it turned out, sifting through the scrap boxes, I was drawn to the fabrics that had faces, so I ran with that.  People, animals, and a few other random things that caught my eye.

In the end, 30 circles.  My total tally so far for the project is 307.  I'm feeling good about that, and hanging in there for the rest of December.  I may not get to 365 before I hit the one-year mark, since I started last January, but it'll be enough to put together a quilt.

* * * * *
In reorganizing the basement, we did a pretty major purge.  Sold a big wrought iron aquarium stand on Craigslist.  Drove three carloads of stuff to Goodwill.  The circle of life:  Quite a bit had come from the thrift store, and to the thrift store it was returned.  Now someone else can enjoy those eclectic acquisitions from past years.  Meanwhile, I'll be enjoying a wonderful sense of spaciousness and lightness.

There's still more stuff to sort through and send away, for sure.  It's an ongoing process.

* * * * *
Now I'm doing some Christmas sewing.  The first gift-giving gatherings of the season are taking place this coming week, so I've got to keep my nose to the grindstone if I want to get done what I'd like.

I was gifted a big box of scrubs recently, from the place where I worked part-time for 10 years.  I'm turning some of them into zipper pouches.

So cute!  I'm using THIS tutorial.  They're going together pretty fast.  It's been a few days since I took this picture, and now there are 11 done. 

Have you seen Kevin's latest post?  He has a tutorial for the cutest little mini-quilt!  I had to try it right away.  I've got one ready to sew together, but no pictures yet.

Are you doing any "secret sewing" for the holidays, or have you gotten it all done already? 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Sunday Sundry 11-20-16

It's been a rough couple of weeks, folks. I am continuing to process.
I read a beautiful thing this past week on the blog The Irish Aesthete. Click the link to read the short post in its entirety (and enjoy the accompanying photos of gorgeous garden paths), but the essence of it was this: 

"...For all its failings and foibles, the human spirit is resilient. So too is the urge, the need to create beauty, even in the midst of turmoil and disorder. The determination of previous generations to overcome adversity, and to find the beautiful in the midst of ugliness can serve as our own inspiration."

Yes.  Let's continue creating in our own unique, expressive, beautiful ways. Finding inspiration, starting conversation.
* * * * *
In addition to the Quilty 365 daily circle project (which I admittedly do not do daily, but often 3, 5, or 10 at a time), I put together this little half-square triangle piece from the leftover cut-off corners of the Precious Gems quilt top.

This piece is only about 36 inches square, so I'm thinking of adding borders or some such thing to bring it to a size I can use as a backing for that quilt top.

* * * * *
Other things I've been doing:

Rearranging some things in the sewing space.  I sew in the basement and share the space with the usual basement dwelling items of a non-sewing nature. I recently bought a few things at an office rummage sale, and I've swapped out an old desk and two old 2-drawer filing cabinets for a 4-drawer cabinet and a standing-height table for the computer.  There's really a mishmash of  stuff down there, and it's a constant work in process to organize, purge, and ponder use of the spaceIt'll never look like something out of House Beautiful, not even close, but I'm happy enough with recent improvements.

—Scanning old photos and memorabilia.  A military historian within the family reached out to us recently regarding my late father-in-law, who served in the the 7th Armored Division during the Battle of the Bulge.  I needed to delve into the information I had, and since I was in the middle of reorganizing anyway, this has led down a new bunny trail, one I'm happy to take, but it is a bit overwhelming.
—Waking up at odd hours of the early morning and not being able to sleep...3:00 a.m., 4:30 a.m., 5:00 a.m.  On the plus side, I got a photo of the Supermoon a couple hours before sunrise. 

—Discovering new music.  Like the latest release from Dawes, and The Muddy Magnolias.  Whew, those girls can sing!

Watching Versailles.  Because I'm still not over the fact they killed off Athelstan on Vikings, and Versailles is easing my George Blagden withdrawals.

—Generally, just being grateful.  For all of the above and more.  For the mild fall weather (up until this weekend), perfect for walkingFor homemade beef stew and apple crisp.  For friends and kind people.  For laughter and tears.

There is much to appreciate as we head into Thanksgiving, and every day.  What comes to mind for you?

Monday, October 31, 2016

Quilty 365 Progress

This month's Quilty 365 circles are brought to you by the color orange, or what may pass for orange, anyway.  I had to stretch the boundaries a bit to align with the stash, so we have everything from rusty brown to peach, with a twist of gold to boot.
What makes me smile in particular today is the one below, made with one skinny string's worth of skeletons on orange background fabric, plus a stripey narrow string of something else between.  Happy Halloween!
Here is the whole month's worth of orange October blocks.
I missed last month's link up because we were on vacation, but here, too, is the August/September lot of yellow and tan circles.  I made 33 blocks for those two months combined, plus 31 in October, making the total for this project 277 so far.
Now, I'm kind of stumped on November.  In the beginning of the year, I scribbled down color themes for each month, but November was "vintage fabrics?" and December was "holiday fabrics?".  Note the question marks.  I was moving away from the color theme of the month and into the realm of other possibilities when I jotted down those ideas.  

Right now, I'm thinking November may be a free-for-all.  I don't have 30 different vintage fabrics, I know that for sure (and besides, I've used a few vintage fabrics in blocks already; see the orange/teal/black scribble block in the October group above, for example).  So we'll see what happens.

I also finished the quilt top from the Aspen Frost layer cake. It's ready for pin basting and quilting one of these fine days when I feel like moving the kitchen furniture out of the way and mopping the floor.
And I don't think I've mentioned yet the Friendship Circle I had put together before we left on vacation a month ago.  I used the half-square triangles of made-fabric trimmed from the Quilt for Pulse.  When this is finished, it'll be wall hanging size(Also, you won't see the gingham check showing through.  That's my design wall covering, the fuzzy back side of a gingham check vinyl tablecloth fabric.)

Did you have many trick-or-treaters at your house?  We only had a handful this year.  Maybe the fact that trick-or-treat hours yesterday were during the Packer game had something to do with it.

Linking to:  Quilty Folk

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Two for the Road...and a Bump

I took two small sewing projects with me on vacation, along with Everett, otherwise known as the "O' Brother" machine.
Didn't actually sew as much as I'd imagined.  Some hotel rooms were better laid out for that kind of thing, logistically, and some evenings I simply opted to use the hotel treadmill or pool or watch a movie instead.
Nevertheless, I did get a few Quilty 365 circles done.  My orange stash is pretty much exhausted, as far as variety, so I'm going to have to repeat some fabrics or...something/insert creative idea finish out the month of October.

I also started piecing a quilt using an Aspen Frost layer cake won in the Hands2Help charity quilt project giveaway a few months back.
I finished up the piecing this week.  It was simple and straightforward, a free quilt pattern called Precious Gem, found HERE.  
Got it laid out on the design wall, things looked good, and started to sew the first rectangular pieces together yesterday.

One seam in, I noticed something was not right.
What in the world?  Why was there a good half-inch gap between my corner triangles?  Had I cut my corner pieces too small?  Was I supposed to trim the rectangles from the layer cake to a different size first?

I went back and reread the instructions.  Nope, I had followed them exactly.

*...mumbling and grumbling...will it matter?...maybe not...maybe so...ugh...*
Well, the only way to fix the gap and make the points match was to trim a half inch from the length of each rectangle.  I didn't like the idea of losing several inches in the overall size of the quilt by having to do that, but there didn't seem to be another option.  Other than live with the gap, I suppose, but the way I'd planned the piecing, using two different gray fabrics in the corners, was done to play up the diagonal part of the design.  If there's a gap, then is there a continuous diagonal at all?
So I'm resolved now to giving each piece a haircut before I sew them together.  I'm thankful I didn't sew half the quilt together before I noticed anything amiss.  And I'm still wondering how did  I miss something so seemingly (or seamingly) obvious—if it looks easy, why is it not?

Image source and free printable
Anyway, questions aside, time to grab the seam ripper (or rotary cutter) and carry on.  

How about you?  Hit any bumps in the road this week? 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Sunday Sundry 10-16-16

We took a road trip the first week of October, which came about in part due to a shift in employment for me.  One of my part-time jobs was ending because the doctor was retiring, but before I ramped up my hours on my other job, Norm and I decided to hit the road.  
I'd never been out in the direction of Mount Rushmore, something I've always wanted to see, and it seemed a driveable distance, given our timeline, and a decent time of year to go.  So we headed west!

Some of the highlights were:   Badlands National Park...
Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorial...
Devil's Tower, Wyoming...
The Mammoth Site in Hot Springs...
There were so many other interesting things to see.  I wanted to learn more about Native American culture, so we stopped at the Akta Lakota Museum and Cultural Center  on the grounds of the St. Joseph Indian school at Chamberlain, South Dakota.  Fascinating history in the exhibits and information as we toured the museum.  
I found particularly interesting to read about the history of quilting among the Sioux culture.
After we left the museum, we paused to see the new 50-foot sculpture installed along I-90 near Chamberlain.  It's called "Dignity" and depicts a Native young woman receiving a star quilt.  According to sculptor Dale Lamphere, “Dignity represents the courage, perseverance and wisdom of the Lakota and Dakota culture in South Dakota. My hope is that the sculpture might serve as a symbol of respect and promise for the future."
It was 37 degrees and raining steadily when I hopped out and took this photo.  But it's a beautiful and inspiring piece, rain or shine.   

There were a couple stops at quilt shops along the way, notably Calico Hutch in Hayward, MN and Heartsong Quilts in Hot Springs, SD.  I could have spent hours (and more money) at both stores, they were fantastic!  As time was limited and we had to be moving on, I was happy to find out I could visit them anytime online.  
I did some stash replenishing between those two, as well as shopping the 50% off clearance fabric sale at Jo-Ann on Columbus Day when I got home.
I addressed my deficit of low volume fabrics in the stash, and I think I did okay.

The last hotel we stayed at on the way back, Microtel in Rochester, MN, had some interesting carpeting in the hallway.  
Quilt inspiration is everywhere!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sunday Sundry 9-25-16

It's been awhile since the last Sunday Sundry installment, a space for everything (but not everything in this space).  Let the randomness begin!

(Hunter's Star quilt finish, below)
Food, Glorious Food
As I write this, I'm eating some of last night's dessert, Paleo Rice Pudding.  So good!  Don't let the paleo tag put you off.  I look for paleo recipes because it usually means it's real food and the recipe is likely to be gluten-free and dairy-free and use a minimal amount of natural sweetener.

I've been on a winning streak with the recipes I'm finding on Pinterest and elsewhere lately.  As a side with dinner last night, I made Cumin Cooked Cabbage, and that was terrific as well.

This is not your mother's cooked cabbage.  Not my mother's, at any rate.

Funny how a person's tastes change through the years.  I have liked most every kind of food as far back as I can remember, with the exception of a handful of things, like salmon, cilantro, cooked cabbage, and German chocolate cake (the goopy frosting, specifically). 

(image source)
On about my sixth birthday, a sweltering August day in the '60s, I asked my mother what we were having for dinner that evening.  Cooked cabbage and German chocolate cake, was the answer (presumably among other things).  To which news I threw a small tantrum, pleading her to change menu plans.  "I HATE cooked cabbage and I HATE German chocolate cake!"  It was my birthday, after all, and I felt I deserved some say in the matter.

"I CAN'T eat BOTH of those things, they make me GAG!"  But Mom was not one to be swayed by the emotions of a kindergartner, and she brushed my petitions aside like so many pesky houseflies, shooing me back outside to play, or sulk, in the process.

Fast forward six hours and I am, in fact, bowing to the porcelain throne, my mother standing by with a cool washcloth.  "I TOLD you it'd make me sick," I moaned with beads of sweat on my forehead.  "You just caught a bug," she soothed.  I was not convinced.

As I got older and tried (and tried, and tried again) those "icky" things, I eventually came to love them all.  It was the way it was prepared, in the case of salmon, that I disliked.  That was in the form of salmon loaf, from canned salmon, that the school lunch served once a month or so.  Blarg!  I'd eat it, at least a couple repulsive bites—back then it was that or go hungry—but I detested it.

Then in my mid-20s, with my sister's endorsement, I tried a slab of fresh, wild-caught salmon—and really didn't mind it.  I was wary, so I can't say I liked it right off, but it was definitely tastier and better than the stuff I remembered from the cafeteria days.  So I tried it again...and again...and then I really liked it.  Now I could (and sometimes do) eat salmon twice a week.

Cooked cabbage?  Well, my mother cooked the daylights out of it, usually with a big ole ham hock, and by the time supper rolled around, it was gray, slimy, and bitter.  Cabbage doesn't need to boil for hours, it turns out.  A quick saute or steam is all it needs.  

Now cilantro is a different story, and that chapter wasn't rewritten until about five years ago.  That's when I noticed it was hiding in my "organic mixed greens" and consequently making the whole salad taste like soap.  But being the frugal person I am, I couldn't bring myself to dump a pricey bin of greens, and the stuff was too elusive to pick out of the mix, so I just put on my big girl bib and dug in.  By the next shopping trip, I'd forgotten about the sneaky cilantro and bought another big container of the mixed greens—and again chomped my way through it.  But you know what?  By the third time I made that mistake, I wasn't minding the cilantro.  In fact, my palate kind of looked forward to that zing of weirdness among otherwise snooze-worthy greens.  Soon, I was buying the stuff in bunches and adding it to recipes—somewhat to the chagrin of my husband, who is not yet a convert.

So taste buds (and minds) can change with exposure and openness to experience, I believe.  That said, I'm not going to be rustling up any Rocky Mountain oysters anytime soon.

Getting High (perspectively speaking)
The hubs and I went for a hike last weekend in a new-to-us state park.  I once again demonstrated how to get lost despite marked trails and a map in my back pocket.

The upside:  (1)  We found the observation tower, (2) It was a gorgeous day, and (3) Hiking in circles gets you twice (okay, maybe three times) as much exercise!

A Quilt Finish
I finished the Hunter's Star quilt this week.  It ended up about 56 inches square, a nice lap quilt size.

That funky backing makes me smile, and hopefully it will someone else too.

Got it all nicely packaged and donated.  

It will be among a number of other prizes raffled in an upcoming local event, where combat wounded veterans gather and go duck hunting together and enjoy a weekend of comradery.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Round in Circles

Reader Mary B. hinted for a refresher on how I'm making my Quilty 365 circles.  I'm glad she asked, and here it is.
I had seen this method in a couple other places.  I think the first time I saw it, the quilter was demonstrating making shapes for an orange peel quilt in this way.  I tried it out with a little sample block and it worked slick as a whistle.  Ditto on the circles.
You need a very lightweight, NON-fusible interfacing.  I've bought it twice at the local JoAnn store, and it was a little different each time, but both kinds worked.  It's not a woven fabric interfacing but the usual synthetic type, and the sheerest one (basically no stiffness).  If I knew the exact name of it, I'd tell you, but mine unfortunately didn't come with that flimsy printed plastic sheet that often accompanies interfacing off the bolt, so I don't have the details.  I'm guessing it's a Pellon product. 
Anyway, I trace my handy-dandy, homemade cardboard circle template onto the interfacing with a Frixion pen (marks disappear with heat).  I put a piece of paper underneath the interfacing because the interfacing is so sheer, the ink will transfer through to whatever's underneath it.  Leave space between the circles and trace as many as you feel like, and then rough-cut them apart between.  You don't have to be super fussy about that, just leave a good margin around the traced circles.

The circle template I'm using is just over 3 inches in diameter.  The neutral background fabric squares are 4.5 inches.

Take your scrap that you want to make into a circle and lay one of your traced circle interfacing pieces on top.  I usually pin it once in the center just to hold it together until I start stitching.
Then stitch around the circle right on the line you traced on the interfacing.  You'll probably want to sew slowly here, and I also used a pretty short stitch length, 1.8 on my machine.

Trim around the stitched circle leaving somewhat less than a 1/4-inch seam allowance, probably like 3/16 inch, but I never really measured.  You don't want/need a lot of bulk when you turn it, is the point.
Then carefully pinch the interfacing only, and snip a little slit in it so you can turn the circle right side out through the slit.  The lightweight interfacing is, well, lightweight; you'll want to be gentle as you turn it so you don't rip a bigger slit, which might then warp the shape of your circle.

At this point, I take a a chopstick or my Kwik Clip...and stick it through the slit, shaping and finger-pressing the circle all the way around.
Then I give it a quick press with the iron—use a lower heat setting than you usually do with cotton.  That synthetic stuff the interfacing is made out of does melt with higher heat.  Only had to wreck one circle to find that out.
Pin your circle to your background square, pick your favorite applique stitch, and sew it down.
Now if you want to reduce bulk in your block, you can flip your appliqued square over and carefully pinch the background fabric only in the center, snip a hole so you can fit the point of your scissors through, and then trim both the background fabric and the interfacing, leaving a 1/4 inch margin.

I think the pictures make more sense here than words.

So there you have it, how I do my Quilty 365 circles.  Everybody's got their favorite method for appliqueing circles and other things.  What's yours?
Finally, I'm sharing the song that's been in my head as I've been typing this whole deal.  Will It Go Round in Circles?  You bet!