Thursday, June 28, 2012


It has been a blast reading all your comments and suggestions on the last post.  I'm so glad I asked!  Thank you all so much for taking the time to comment  thoughtfully.  There were so many wonderful ideas! 

I'm loving this coleus, a last minute random planting.
Now I'm pretty sure I know the direction I'll be going.  The corner squares will stay and be a bit larger.  I'll probably do a narrow border of the same dark fabric as the corners, and a wider outer border of the black and white crosshatch background fabric.  In between those two borders and/or at the very corners of the quilt, I may do something scrappy.  I'm leaving myself some "creative wiggle room," as Elizabeth called it, until I get to that point.

As far as "Failure to plan..." you had some thoughts on completing that sentence as well, such as "freedom to accept what comes along (Sandi) and "allows for spontaneity" (Pokey).  One offering, by the very funny ThreeOldKeys (who invites you to check out her melons), completely cracked me up.  I thought it deserved a special graphic, so I "MacGyvered" one together at lunch today:


I am looking forward to working on the string ring quilt again this weekend.  First I have to finish some deadline stuff in the meantime (which I am totally procrastinating on at the moment, I know). 

Until then, I leave you with this fine musical interlude.  My friend Kathy sent me a link to this video yesterday, thinking I might like it.  How right she was!  I like this instrumental better than the original song.  Fantastic fingerstyle guitar playing by Mike Dawes.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Now What?

"Failure to plan is planning to fail."  Whenever that old adage comes to mind— usually when I'm waist deep in having not planned—it gives me a twinge for a moment or two.  But then I think:  Says who?

I'm pretty sure whoever came up with that one was not a quilter.  A quilter might say:

Failure to plan is...
  • a design opportunity.
  • a chance to try a new technique.
  • an opportunity to use the stash.
  • a time to reach out for ideas.
  • an open door to a change of mind.

Those are a few that I came up with.  I'm sure you can probably think of more  (and please share them in the comments, if you do).

I have finished machine appliqueing the string rings, or Dresdens, onto the background squares.  I had intended to sash them together, but when it came time for auditions, I didn't particularly like how that looked.  A black print sashing, which I thought would be dramatic, was too harsh.  Red sashing seemed to steal the thunder from the string rings, which I would like to remain the focal point.

How about no sashing at all?  It has maybe a more modern feel, and I like that, but I'm worried it may be boring.  Perhaps an alternate layout (no idea what, though) would liven things up?

Without sashing it's smaller than I originally had in mind.  It would finish approximately 60 x 80, which is not the bed size I imagined.  I am willing to sacrifice the idea of a larger quilt, however, if it makes better sense for the overall design.

Then I had an idea.  What if I made corner triangles on the blocks, which would form squares on point when joining them together and thus a kind of divider?  It might give the eye a bit of a rest and add a secondary, but not too attention-grabbing, point of interest.  I tested the idea with some pieces laid at the corners to give a rough sense of how that might look.

Am I onto something?  Getting warmer?  Colder?  Should I experiment with scrappy corners using some of the scraps in the Dresdens, or would that compete too much with the Dresdens themselves?  And borders or no borders?  It would add to the size (+), but it might overpower the rest of the quilt (-).

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Friday, June 22, 2012


Since we have now marked the summer solstice (and how can that be already?), I decided it was high time to put a summery looking quilt on my bed.

Why do I need a quilt on my bed in the summer?  Because I go to bed freezing, as the A/C is set to hubby the polar bear's preference.  But then, because I am of an age when all hormones break loose, I wake at 4:30 a.m. to throw ALL the covers off, sheet included, until the hotness passes.  Twenty or so minutes later, I pull at least the sheet and comforter back on.  Lather, rinse, and repeat for another couple hours, and you get my drift.  I love mornings.

Anyway, since there hasn't been a whole lot of work on quilts this week, at least I can look at a different one on my bed.

I did get all the center circles fused onto the string Dresdens, and tonight I machine stitched one down along the outer circle, as well as the inner centers. I've got another one ready to stitch down...whenever.

The progress on this quilt has been slow, and I think things will continue to move along on it incrementally for the foreseeable future.  Did I mention I'm helping my dad get a book written?  Yeah, so there's that.  Plus regular life, work, other things that need doing in the summer, etc.  Always something.

Norm went back to work half days this week (happy dance!), after three months off for his work injury.  It's nice to have a more of a normal routine again.  I have felt more focused and productive in those four, quiet hours between 8 and noon this past week than I have in a long time.  

So I guess I really do love mornings—after I am out of bed, that is.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday Miscellany

I missed doing a Sunday Sundry post, so it's Monday Miscellany instead.  

Found a plant for the vintage Shawnee planter.
We spent yesterday celebrating Father's Day and our 29th anniversary.  Got to visit a bit with our daughter, which was lovely, and then went to a movie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  I really enjoyed it.  Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, and an all-around stellar cast made for a great film.

We'll have to see how this works out.
Now that the baby quilt is done, it's time to get cracking on the string ring quilt again.  I was originally going to use red centers for the scrappy Dresdens, but then I had an idea to try a black and white polka dot instead.

I liked it, but I sought the opinions of my daughter and husband, who both preferred the red.  Not what I wanted to hear, but I appreciated their input. My daughter thought the black centers looked too much like pupils and crazy irises.  I hadn't thought of that.  Who wants to look at a quilt that looks back at you, creepily?

So I came up with a compromise, which got a thumbs up from Norm, and tonight I did some fusing while a Lifetime movie played in the background.  

I mostly ignored the movie, but now and then I'd pay attention to the dialog.  I think I may have lost a few IQ points in the process.

Reading the newspaper at lunch today, I had a good chuckle over this headline:

Eh, live and let live, I say.  Let a cougar enjoy those perimenopausal years however she likes.  If she can parlay her 40s for a couple of 20s, more power to her! ;)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Bright Baby Quilt

A dear friend's daughter is expecting her first baby, a girl, in the coming months.  I'm very excited for them, but at the same time, it makes me feel a bit nostalgic.  I remember when my friend brought her daughter home from the hospital, all five pounds of her, and it feels like yesterday that I marveled at the tiny little girl whose head fit entirely in the palm of my hand.

Anyway (get a grip, P.), next weekend is the baby shower.  I thought I'd make a baby quilt.

I asked the mom-to-be (M2B) not to peek at the blog until after the shower if she didn't want to spoil the surprise, and she said she wouldn't.  Do we trust her?  Of course we do!

So here is the finished quilt, pulled together from some bright triangle pieces I had cut but not used for a kaleidoscope quilt.

I was informed that M2B was not a big fan of pink, but as you can see, I did my best to ignore that help her overcome it.  I mean, when you're going to have a girl, pink happens.

Truth be told, I was ambivalent about the top when I got it sewn together.  I questioned my use of big, bold, bright colors in a baby quilt.  Should I have gone with a softer palette?  So when it came time to create a backing, I took it down a notch and went with an Alexander Henry Heath in steel gray, with a single horizontal strip that included some more muted fabric triangles. I think they're Kaffe Fassett.  Okay, maybe they're not all that muted, but I tried.  If the front is too much, flip it over and take a nap.

Really, though, as I thought about it, my wish for Amy, the M2B, is that she has a bright, bold, strong baby girl, like the colors of the quilt, and just like she was.

I quilted it in horizontal wavy lines (I only had to unpick three, one because it was my first and kind of nervous looking, and the other two because they were too close to the edge of the short ends).  It is bound in a black and white mini polka dot.  It didn't seem right to go with anything less dramatic at that point.
My hope for this quilt is not that it matches the nursery decor (but if it does, bonus).  My hope is that it's the kind of quilt that gets hauled around, tossed down, cuddled in, spit up on, dragged through dirt, tucked in with dollies, and ultimately falls apart from all the love it can withstand.

June Finishes

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sunday Sundry 6-10-12

The corner of my front porch (which is more of a step or landing, really) was looking kind of bare and in need of some color.  One thing that grows well in that shady spot is impatiens, so I picked up some of those.  Then I rooted around in my garage looking for a suitable container.  You know how one thing leads to another.

Found this plastic tub that had been used to drain the lawnmower oil.  It had a little hole in it (drainage, right?), and it looked about the right size, but I didn't want it to be blue.  Which led me to dig out an old can of cream colored spray paint.

Along the way, I found the old birdbath, i.e., plant stand.  I hosed off the cobwebs and scrubbed it as best I could. 

The next day when the paint was dry on the tub, I potted up some flowers.  They'll be prettier once they bloom and start to fill in more.  I think I've got red and coral impatiens mixed together in there.  The same, plus white, went into the pots in the little wagon.

It was looking kind of lonely yet, so I dusted off a trellis I had leaning against a wall in the garage.

Around the base of the tub, I put some river stones mixed with green glass from the dollar store.

I think I still need something low to fill in behind the base of the birdbath and hide the bottom of the trellis.  I'll keep digging around and see what I come up with, but I'm liking it so far.

Sewing-wise, I'm working on a baby quilt.  I finished the top this past week and stared at it on the living room floor for a couple days, debating about what to do for the backing.  Since the front is kind of bright and busy, I thought I'd tone it down for the back with just one strip across a Heath gray background.  I may actually like the back better than the front!  This photo doesn't really do it justice, but you get the idea.  I'm using some bits I'd cut for a kaleidoscope quilt that wasn't.

Sorry to be a little stingy with pictures, but the mom-to-be may read this.  I've got to figure something out before I post any more pics. 

Anyway, I'm hoping to get it at least basted together this week.  Lots of other things competing for time and attention, though.  Isn't that the way of it?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Favorite Things Friday ~ Four Things

I have more than one favorite thing this week.

First, this bar from Harry & David.  It is really, really good.  Smooth, rich dark chocolate, with nary a hint of charcoal, which is what the hubs and I joke that the ultra-dark stuff can sometimes taste like.

The wrapper says it's "Deeper and more satisfying."  Well, I don't know about that.  Are we still talking about chocolate here?

I don't usually shop at Harry & David.  You all probably know that discount and thrift stores are more my scene, but here is where I tell you why I ventured into H&D in the first place:  Free coffee sample.  Try to act surprised.

However, I am glad to have found this chocolate (on sale) which does not have dairy ingredients, as that kind is hard to find.  Both Walmart and Target have recently stopped carrying the two other brands I really liked and could eat, darn it.

Number two favorite this week is—no surprise—another thrift store vintage fabric.  This one came from St. Vinny's.  One yard of 27" wide vintage Christmas fabric for, are you ready, 75 cents.  I know, right?

I love that vintage green!  The words and snowflakes are in a silver print.  It reminds me of the old glass ornaments with white or silver writing we had on the tree as a kid.

Third favorite is this old computer desk hauled up from the basement last month, which is now functioning as a nice potting bench in the garage.  Slide out the keyboard drawer and you can fit a whole flat of flowers on it.  And to think we were going to put this out at the curb.

Fourth, the new album by Band of Skulls.  I about wore out their first CD a couple years ago.  You might recognize their music from this Ford Mustang commercial.  For a three-piece band, they can both rock it out and do mellow, sweet harmonies.  Here's one of the softer tunes.  If you make it to the four-minute mark, there is a blasting 30-second guitar solo, followed by some smooth fretwork that soothes everything out once again.  I love surprises like that in music.

This post has been brought to you by Favourite Things Fridays at Quilting in My Pyjamas.  Drop in for a visit or link along!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Chain Linked Quilt Finish

There was a mysterious box on my doorstep last week, a delivery by the post.  Okay, maybe not so mysterious, because I knew it was from Angie of 5 Little Monkeys Quilting.  The mystery, though, was how my Chain Linked Quilt had been quilted.  We had talked about some ideas, in general, but I had left it up to her to surprise me in the end.

And it is beautiful!  She did an allover oval or bubble type shape in gray thread.  It works perfectly against all those squares, and I love it!

I had finished the top in early January and it was in the processing of ripening in the quilting queue (aka sitting folded on the futon in my sewing room) when I happened to win a giveaway by Elizabeth for a discount on quilting by Angie.  Oh, happy day!  Angie had quilted another quilt for me in the past, so I knew she did very nice work.  I hastily put together a backing and sent it off to her for longarm quilting.

Yeah, about that "hastily" part...  I was too impatient to unpick a couple seams and fix my backing so that the end squares wouldn't be cut off, and I knew that when I sent it. 

Well, how about we just call it a design decision.  Or something.  In a way, I kind of like it, actually.

The binding is another one of those things that reflects my impatience.  I started out thinking I'd hand sew it down on the back, so I deliberately took a more generous seam allowance when machine sewing it onto the front.  But when I started to fold the binding over and put the binder clips on and stared at that long, long line of binding to be stitched down...well, impatience kicked in again and I decided to machine sew the binding down.

As you can imagine, with that bigger seam allowance, sewing in the ditch from the front side of the quilt didn't manage to catch the binding all the way along, so after about two feet of that foolishness, I took it off, flipped it over, and started to machine sew the binding down on the back, knowing full well it would probably look heinous on the front side.  And the stitching line on the front does indeed go off the rails like a crazy train, but that train just kept-a-rollin'.  It is done, friends.  D-o-n-e, DONE, and that's all I've got to say about that.  At least it lies flat.  Okay, that was one more thing to say about that.

I still love it, with all its idiosyncrasies!  

The Chain Linked pattern is by Amy Smart of Diary of a Quilter. I mentioned the fabrics used in my previous post here.

I'm linking to Quilting by the River's Linky Party Tuesday.  Come join the fun!

June Finishes

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sunday Sundry 6-3-12

We spent the morning yesterday at a flea market.  The night before, I had talked about not going, as I'd had a busy week and a leftover to-do list as long as my arm.  But Saturday dawned bright and pleasantly cool, so we headed off on the spur of the moment, in spite of myself.

Armed with a cuppa joe and a little change in my pocket going ching-a-ling-a-ling, we found ourselves strolling the flea.  And you know what I bought—the only thing?  Bison.

Buffalo Gals Won't You Come out Tonight...
Yep, bison—as in meat from a local farmer who raises 'em grass fed.  And last night, it was what's for dinner.  Bison burger, a big honkin' one-third pound patty, and some grilled asparagus with red peppers on the side.  It was wonderful.  Absolutely no weird or gamey flavor whatsoever.  Better than beef, no kidding.

So where did the Pyrex come from?  Well, Norm found the chartreuse bowl for me last week.  I found the aqua casserole yesterday after we got home from the flea market.  We weren't quite done junking, I guess, because we ambled downtown and stopped at St. Vinny's where I spotted the casserole, complete with a layer of dirt and grease, but no price tag.

At the counter, I pointed out the lack of a tag to the clerk.  "How about a dollar?" I offered, expecting to get a laugh in return. 

"I was thinking more like a dollar and a half," said the clerk.  Well, who could argue with that? I took it home for an hour-long soak in hot, soapy water, and it came completely clean.

Shawnee (How I Love Ya, How I Love Ya)
Norm also bought me this cool V-shaped Shawnee planter last weekend while out with a friend.  I think it's part of the Touche line from the mid-'50s, in a speckled, or salt-and-pepper glaze. 

This thing has about a 13-inch wingspan, but it's not real deep or wide.  What would you plant in it?  

For now, I think I'll just plant some fabric.

I will be back in a day or two to share a finished quilt.  I got one back from the longarm quilter this week and finished binding it last night.  Somewhere on my to-do list is a photo shoot!