Sunday, May 22, 2016

Hands2Help Quilt Finish

This Hands2Help quilt has been ready and waiting for quilting for a couple months, and this past week it was time to finally "git 'r done."

And done she got, with some lazy, large meanderings—kinda like me, he-he.  Well, depending on the day; I do have my industrious and focused moments.
This colorful nine-patch and snowball quilt came in at 62.5 x 62.5 inches when all was said and done.  It will be sent off to Covered in Love, the Tyler, Texas charity that provides comfort quilts to families of patients who have passed away in the hospital.  I hope it brings a much-needed quilty hug to a grieving family and a special way of remembering their loved one.
Glad I happened to find the thrifted but never used blue vintage sheet as I was planning this quilt.  Sometimes you tuck something away so well, you almost don't find it again, you know?  There was enough to cut the snowball blocks as well as just enough for a backing, with the help of a strip from the stash.

Linking to Confessions of a Fabric Addict for the final H2H roundup!  Click over and have a look at the generosity and creativity of all the participants this year.  You will be amazed!

And while I'm at it, I'm going to join the Can I Get a Whoop Whoop! link as well with this baby quilt I finished recently for my niece Kayla. 
I gave it to her at her baby shower a few weeks ago, and she loved it.
Last week her little baby girl arrived, and all are doing well.  Happy news!  

Oh, and one more thing I've been working on, but just a sneak peak (or two):

I've been trying some Crafted Applique using the technique Lara Buccella details in her new book!  It's been fun and I can't wait to tell you more about it soon.
Come back on June 1 when I'll be a stop on the Crafted Applique blog hop, AND you'll have a chance to win a copy of her book!  See you then!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

April Circles for Quilty 365

It reigned purple in my sewing room in April.  That was the plan and color I'd chosen for the month for my Quilty 365 circle project.

Three weeks in, there was the sad news of Prince's departure from this world.  His music was part of the soundtrack of my life.  "Raspberry Beret" and "Let's Go Crazy" were among my favorites, but there were so many more.  His talent, vision, musicianship, creative genius, and supreme funkiness will be sorely missed.   
"If you don't like
the world you're livin' in
Take a look around
at least you got friends..."

Back to the circles, it took some creativity to come up with 30 purple dots.  Purple is one of those colors I don't tend to have a lot of in the stash, but since I'm a saver of scraps and strings, I managed to scrounge up enough to cobble together.

Back in the '90s, I decided to paint a bathroom a lovely shade of lilac.  Afterwards, when shopping for towels and rugs, I found out how hard it was to match purple.  Too gray, too bright, too blue, too dark, too grapey.  I finally went with tan/cream accessories.

Which happens to be my background square color scheme, so we're good.  Perhaps the point of purple is to defy the whole matching thing.  Mess with attempts to pin it down.  Just when you think it's this, it's that.  I admire that rebel quality.

So we have grayish purples, muddy purples, happy purples, sad purples, grapey, spring-fresh, and quirky purples.  And so on.

Another fun factoid about my experience with purple.  Once in a while, I'll get a whiff of something—a flower, a piece of candy—and I'll say, "It smells like purple."  I didn't know this was kind of weird until my husband commented that he didn't understand what I was talking about.  What does purple smell like?  Well, not like grape, as one might imagine.  More like a certain clover, which is also the same (in my mind) as what purple gumdrops tasted like in my childhood.  Later in life, I found out this may be a form of synesthesia.  I do have number form synesthesia, when it comes to visualizing calendars and timelines, but there are other types as well.  

I don't smell other colors, as a rule.  I think it'd be really cool, though, if I did.  In a fabric store, would the smells all blend together?  If so, would it smell like brown?  And as I'm thinking about what brown would smell like, I'm remembering the modeling clay from my childhood.  I spent a lot of time with my nose within a few inches of modeling clay as a kid.  Not Play-Doh; for some reason, I just wanted to eat that stuff.  Modeling clay came in sticks wrapped in cellophane.  There were a few basic colors in a pack, but after a while, they all got mixed together forming a big hunk of brown.

But enough about my childhood eccentricities.  Who knows, maybe my brain got rewired when as a tot I stuck the silver butter knife in the electrical socket and woke up several feet away seeing stars.  And I do remember those purple stars!

With January's blue circles, February's red/pink, March's green, and April's purple, that brings me to a total of 121.

Linking to:  Quilty Folk

Friday, April 1, 2016

March Circles for Quilty 365

Last month, my color was green for the Quilty 365 circle project.  Oh, how I love green!  It is a welcome sight this time of year, as the snow melts and rain begins transforming a dull brown to a verdant landscape.

Spring seems to have come a bit earlier than usual.  My daffodils are up about six inches and many trees are budding.  I worry that a cold snap will set things back, but overall, no complaints here.

March's green circles, along with January's blue and February's red/pink, make a total of 91 so far.

Haven't thought too much yet about how they're going to go together in a quilt.  I am enjoying seeing how others have done it or how they're thinking about it. 

April's circles will be purple.  I'm already finding it challenging to capture true shades of purple in photographs.  Other than that minor detail, I predict nothing but more fun ahead!

Linking to:  Quilty 365

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Scrappy Mountain Majesties Finish

Last year fellow quilting buddy Marei asked if I wanted to make a Bonnie Hunter quilt along with her.  I was totally on board with the idea, and we picked out one of Bonnie's free patterns that neither one of us had made before.  The Scrappy Mountain Majesties quilt was the agreed on choice.

Our flimsies were finished about a year ago (you can see Marei's HERE).  Then mine went off to the local long arm quilter for a few months' vacation.  It came back a few weeks ago and I finished the binding on it.

My trusty assistant and retired husband has a new, legitimate gig as official "Quilt Holder-Upper."  The pay sucks, but there's a decent benefit package.  He seems like a natural.

Sandy did a nice all over, swirly floral quilting motif.

A glimpse of the backing and dotty binding.

In other happenings, we spent a pleasant afternoon at the Museum of Wisconsin Art again recently.  
(Jim Liedtke: A Well-Ordered Society: The Super Rich, The Seemingly Devout, The Rest of Us Poor Day Laborers)
 I'm often drawn to the pieces with a sense of humor.
("Maybe we ain't got culture, but we're eatin' regular"~Carl Sandburg, 1914)
Later that night, unfortunately, I became violently ill and "did an Elvis."  Meaning I executed the King's second most famous move and passed out on the john.  Ba-dum-bum!  

(Love the quote on this one too.)
I can't be sure, but I suspect it was food poisoning.  Which is too bad, because the grilled chicken salad with tequila-lime dressing was one of my favorites at the place where we had lunch.  Not anymore, though.  Not ever again.
(Pat Kroth: Gypsy Rhythm - closeup)
Norm woke to a crashing thud (me too—nothing like coming back to consciousness with the sound of your own fall echoing in your ears).  His first thought was that we were having a home invasion.  As he made his way down the dark hallway to see what was happening, I eeked, "I'm so sick," and he found me lying there on the bathroom floor. 

(Aaron Bohrod: The Shadow)
Long story short, I felt like death for the next 24 hours, and to top it off, I had a contusion above my left eye and stiff neck.  Thankfully, I recovered in a day or two and am very grateful for that. 

(Andrew Acker: Crow Dreaming of Becoming a Man: Will I Still Fly?)
What wakes me up most days lately is a pair of crows, plus a few of their friends, that have taken up residence in our yard.  They often meet for a confab in the big river birch outside my bedroom window.  Starting at daybreak, with the sun barely over the horizon:  "Caw-caw-caw-caw-caw!" and various iterations thereof.  And so on, and so on, and so on.

I first thought they were nesting in the pines far back in the yard, but the other day I hung sheets out on the line for the first time this spring and watched a crow with a beak full of sticks fly into the ash tree right off the deck.  Yep, there it was, the crow's nest, about 40 feet off the ground.

Last spring it was mallards, this year it's crows.  It's going to be an interesting summer!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

A Flimsy and a Finish

Behind the scenes of this somewhat quiet little blog space, I've been sewing on a few things during the past couple weeks.  Let's catch up!

(The crocuses are popping up!)
I've been following along on Sarah's Nifty-Nines Quilt Along and was inspired to start a nine-patch quilt of my own.  I hit up the stash and pulled a few color combinations that spoke to me in a scrappy kind of way.

Pretty soon I had a design wall of nine-patches.  (That subtle checkerboard pattern is my design wall, which is the fuzzy side of a vinyl tablecloth pinned to the wall.)

Then it was time for some snowball blocks in between those nines, and again I turned to the shelf of stash for a background for those snowballs.  Nothing really spoke to me there, so I started looking in some more out of the way spots in my sewing room, eventually opening a thrift store bag to find this.

A vintage but never used muslin sheet I'd scored at Goodwill sometime in the past couple years.  It's more of a robin-egg blue than the above picture suggests.

I washed it up and cut 9.5-inch squares for the snowball blocks.  A day or two later, I had them all done, and a few days after that, the top was together.  And I had enough sheet left for a pieced backing!

This will be a quilt for Hands2Help, the annual charity quilt drive Sarah coordinates.  I look forward to making something for it every year.  Head over to Confessions of a Fabric Addict to read about this year's H2H Challenge and join in!  It's fun, it feels good to give, and there are prizes!

Confessions Of A Fabric Addict

Recently, Sandy, my local long-arm quilter, brought back two of my quilts.  It is said that "absence makes the heart grow fonder," and I think that's true for quilts.  Especially when they come back beautifully quilted!

This was my living room a few days ago, with WIPs on the floor and furniture.  We manage to navigate along the edge in that narrow walk space—balance training, you know! 

[Aside:  That little corduroy and flannel HST quilt on the left is actually not a WIP; I finished it last year.  The chair is holding a recent thrift store find, one of those "start the car!" moments when I snapped up a piece of salt-glazed Rowe Pottery from the employee cart at Goodwill before it even made it to the display shelf.]

Yesterday, I finished the binding on one of the two quilts that came back from the long-armer.  I had started this 16-patch and X-block quilt last year about this time.  It was one of two 16-patch quilts I made, the other one being donated to last year's Hands2Help charity quilt drive.

This one will stay with me (at least for a while).  I used some gorgeous hand-dyed fabrics by Vicki Welsh in this quilt, on a background of dove gray.

I made two backs for this quilt—which is what happens when you can't remember you've already made the first one.  I gave the second backing to the quilter, and then about six weeks later found the first underneath something in the sewing room!  

I called Sandy to say, "Stop the presses!"  Fortunately, she hadn't started quilting it yet, so I was able to take her the first one, which was my favorite.

That's a little of what's been happening around here.  What have you been up to?

Thursday, March 3, 2016

February Circles for Quilty 365

The circles made in February for the Quilty 365 project are a vibrant group of reds and pinks!

Once again, there were a couple of fussy-cut circles, like this flower.

And some hearts, of course!

I enjoyed going through my red/pink scraps and choosing the ones that appealed to me.

Since I started on January 1, it's been easy to keep track of what number I'm on:  31 for January + 29 for February = 60.

Plus the few I've got started for March, which will be shades of green.

I haven't sewn any of the circle blocks together yet and probably won't until they're all done.  That way I can mix the colors around in an appealing way.

Also allowing for other ideas to percolate as the project unfolds.

Hop over to Quilty Folk to see what the Quilty 365 folks have been working on!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sunday Sundry 2-28-16

This little wall hanging is now quilted and bound and hanging on the sewing room wall.  I may not have gotten it done by Valentine's Day, which was an arbitrary deadline, but a couple weeks later is fine by me.

As usual, what stalled me was how to quilt it.  I finally began with some circles or pebbles in the red sashing and curlicues in the black and white inner borders, then went back and did straight line ditch quilting in the whirligigs and a meander in the outer border.

(Quilting as seen from the back)
You know what I have a problem with?  Quilting exactly over the same line or curve.  I can do it, sort of, but I really want to wander.

I don't know if it's a lack of attention, some kind of neurological thing that makes me a little shaky, a contrariness about following rules, or a general reluctance to go over the same ground I've already covered. 

(I don't always overthink things, but when I do...)

Anyway, the struggle is real.

But what ultimately went through my mind was remembering to just "embrace the shake."  If you've seen this TED talk by artist Phil Hansen, you know what I mean.  If not, it's definitely worth a few minutes to watch it.  It's about working creatively within your limitations.  Limitations in function, limitations in resources can inspire an abundantly creative life.  I love that kind of thing.

And that also relates back to this wall hanging, because it started with a baggie of scrap pieces.  

There was only a certain number of dark red pieces with which to make the whirligig blocks, and then there were some red and white print pieces.  Those lighter bits made three whirligigs that recede into the background.  You have to look at little bit harder to see them, but they're there.

* * * * *
The Joy in the Evening quilt has been donated to an upcoming local fundraiser for Badger Honor Flight.  The Honor Flight Network flies WWII and terminally ill veterans to Washington, D.C. to see the memorials erected in their honor. 

I wish my father-in-law would have been able to participate in an Honor Flight, but he passed away a few years before the program was begun.

At any rate, it makes me happy to be able to participate in a very small way so that another veteran can be part of an Honor Flight experience.

* * * * *
I've had a cruddy cold this past week, which zapped my energy.  Things are starting to feel more normal again, finally.  My voice still sounds pretty ragged and gravelly, but it's getting better.

My face is healing too.

PSA:  A few days into a cruddy cold with frequent nose-wiping and blowing is NOT the day to decide to Nair your upper lip.

I'm just sayin'.

* * * * *
So let's talk about food, specifically, cookies.  More specifically, using a mashed avocado in cookies.

An avocado?  Oh yes!  The mushy green fruit of a mashed avocado makes these cookies delightfully delish.  Well, that and the chocolate.  This is one of the keepers in my recent experiments in gluten-free baking.

Now if you like a crunchy cookie, this is not the droid you are looking for.  But if you crave a cakier morsel with a tender chocolatey crumb, then read on, my friend.

Chocolate Chip Avocado Cookies (Gluten-Free)

Blend together dry ingredients in a small bowl:

3/4 cup almond meal (almond flour)
1/4 cup coconut flour
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder (I use raw cacao powder)
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Whisk wet ingredients together in a mixing bowl:

One-half avocado, mashed
1 egg
1/4 cup melted coconut oil or melted butter (I used ghee)
1/2 cup real maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix well.  Stir in 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Let the cookie dough sit while the oven preheats, or about 5-10 minutes.  This gives the dough time to absorb all of the moisture and become scooping consistency.  Then scoop by tablespoonfuls onto a cookie sheet, pressing down slightly if you want them more flat than fat (they don't spread much with baking).  Bake for 11 minutes.  Let cool on cookie sheet for about 5 minutes before removing to rack to continue cooling.


* * * * *
Linking to:  Confessions of a Fabric Addict's Can I Get A Whoop Whoop!