Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Farewell 2013

As we get ready to welcome the New Year, I put together a collage of some of the highlights of 2013.

This past year, I became comfortable with curved piecing.  It turns out I quite enjoy it.

Do you make resolutions?  Have you set some goals for 2014?  I don't normally do either one, but I bet I could come up with a few things if I thought about it.  Learning to be less of a procrastinator should probably appear somewhere on the list—the list I make later.  ;)

The blog needed a little updating, so I've been attending to that.  Changed the background, updated fonts and links, etc., and filled in the Gallery with 2013 quilts.  Still have to add the previous years' quilts. 

Here's to an excellent 2014, however that might manifest itself for you!  And why not celebrate with a tune to groove into the New Year.  Gotta love that horn section!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

String Ring Dresden Quilt

I am so happy to reveal the finished String Ring Dresden quilt today!  I received the package in the mail on Thursday from Elizabeth, who had done the wonderful quilting, and on her domestic machine, no less.  The quilting really takes it to a whole 'nother level of awesome!

I spent last evening attaching the binding and label, excited to see it all done.

This is a rather large quilt, and the challenge was going to be how to capture it in photos...with a rather dark house...with small rooms...in the winter...in Wisconsin...by myself with no assistant quilt holder-uppers.  
Fortunately, the weather cooperated with a clear and bright, windless, not-so-cold day.

I thought I might get a better perspective by laying it on the snow outside and shooting it from a higher vantage point, i.e., the upstairs bathroom window.

Well, uh, fail.  Even with zoom, it didn't look right.  Pretty view of the back yard, though.

So I tromped back outside and did the best I could on the level.  Of course, every time I walked near the quilt, I was making eight or ten-inch craters in the snow with my boots.

As I was leaving the back yard, it struck me to toss it up over the deck railing.  Smaller quilts typically slide down on one side or the other, but with this big-un, it actually stayed put.

Elizabeth really knocked it out of the park on the quilting.  I can't thank her enough for everything she did to get the quilting just right.  You can read more about that experience in her blog post here.  Great photos there too.

The label she hand embroidered is so very special.  I think she could have a niche business just hand embroidering quilt labels.  How often do we skip that important step?  Guilty, here.

By the way, the backing fabric is Robert Kaufman, A Pirate's Life for Me Pirate Booty.  Who doesn't love a little pirate booty?  Just adds to the whimsy.

More about the back story of this quilt can be found in these previous posts:

* how the idea came about
* significance of the color scheme
* tutorial for a string table mat (how the string rings are made)
* design decisions
* finished quilt top

Thanks for stopping by, and a very Happy New Year to you!

Linking to:

December Finishes

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Scrappy Table Runner

It has been a good weekend to finish things up...Christmas shopping, of course, and this little table runner.  I just put the last stitches in the binding a little while ago, as the snow fell softly outside. 

We were due for several more inches of the white stuff today, but it seems to be dissipating now and the sun is peeking out.  Snow or no, it's a fine day to be in the sewing room and maybe catch a bit of the Packers game. 

A couple weeks ago, I was playing around with scraps from the drunkard's path pieces I'd cut for the Hemispheres quilt when an idea came together for this table runner.  I machine appliqued the leaf shapes onto a background and then bordered it with wedge-shaped pieces.

I feel like I'm slowly getting my quilting mojo back.  I used Aurifil here as the top thread and, for the first time, tried Superior Bottom Line in the bobbin, which seemed to work pretty well together.  Bottom Line is a very fine thread which almost disappears into the background while giving good thread definition.  If that makes any sense.

I had thought about making a table runner or wall hanging with a charm pack of Blitzen this season, but that probably won't happen now before Christmas.  Nevertheless, this one seems to go nicely with the Pyrex Snowflake Blue pattern.

As a final note, oh my gosh, you guys, I am SO excited about the quilting Elizabeth did on my String Ring Dresden quilt!  It's on its way back to me in the mail right now, but you can see photos of it over at her blog, Such a Sew and Sew.  She did an amazing job and deserves a huge Whoop-Whoop too!

December Finishes

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Silver Lining

I finished a quilt that had been basted since September.  It sat around waiting for, I don't know, inspiration? the right mood? a not-sore shoulder?  When I awoke in the wee hours on Thursday morning and couldn't get back to sleep, it suddenly seemed as good a time as any to get started on it.  I conceded that it wasn't going to have the "right" thread or the "perfect" predetermined quilting pattern; nope, in that moment, what was needed was somewhere to focus my attention, and that trumped everything else.

Thus, the cloud of insomnia had a silver lining:  One UFO down.

I quilted vertical lines down the whole thing, trying to vary them somewhat so they weren't completely straight yet not totally curved.  Wonky took a little practice.

I like the back almost as much as the front.  Isn't that the way it goes sometimes?

* * * * *
Today was caramel corn making day.  Every year I make a big batch for my coworkers at the clinic and bring it in the week of Christmas.  But they started asking about it last week already, so I figured I better bump up the delivery date.

You can find the recipe in my post from three years ago here.

* * * * *
I discovered this gem on my hard drive recently.  It's me and my siblings circa 1968. 

Paulette, Nita, Darrell, Russ c. 1968
Dad especially liked to line us up for photos around the holidays.  I so appreciate that we have such great documentation of our growing up years on film, goofy as some of those pictures are.

I'm on the left in the red sweater.  I love my sister's shirt with the Nehru collar, the bark cloth curtains, our antique Knabe grand piano with a bazillion little fingerprints on it, and most of all, my brothers' sweet faces!  Almost as if they can't wait for Santa and are trying to convince him they've been very good!

Linking to A Stitch in Time 2013 Finishes and Can I Get a Whoop-Whoop!
December Finishes

Monday, December 9, 2013

Now with More Cowbell

Well, the strangest thing happened while the internet was out here for a day and a half this weekend.  I actually got stuff done!  Funny how that works.  As in, I got a quilt one hundred percent D-O-N-E, done.  Also knocked out a really good chunk of the Christmas shopping on Saturday, caught up on laundry, and made a big ole turkey dinner and trimmings yesterday, because apparently we must not have eaten enough turkey on Thanksgiving what with all the wild waterfowl.

If the internet had stayed down past noon yesterday, I may have even gotten up the Christmas tree and possibly channeled my inner Betty Crocker with some holiday baking.  Hopefully, that will happen in due course before the next outage.

So, quilt-wise, the baby boy quilt is now ready for gifting! 

I went with a solid green binding, a Quilter's Basics in Peridot from Connecting Threads.

The pieced backing did use up most of the Denyse Schmidt fabrics in the stash, except a few small scraps.  Sweet, soft blues and blue-greens.  I can almost smell the baby powder.

I am so happy to have a finish, at long last.  Linking to:

December Finishes

 * * * * *
The other day I was looking for something in a store while the most annoying Christmas song ever was playing.  I don't even remember what it was, but it was an over-amped nerve jangler that made me want to finish up and get out of Walgreens on the very next sleigh.

Which led me to muse:  Can there be too much of a good thing?  (Sure.)  Are we obliged to hear all the familiar tunes in their various renditions, everywhere we go for six weeks?  All that repetition; to me it kind of starts to feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, stuck in a loop and waking up to "I Got You Babe" every morning.

And yet there I was doing my shoulder exercises yesterday and instead of counting the seconds to hold the stretch, what am I doing?  Singing Jingle Bells.  Fifteen seconds, folks.  That's about how long it takes to get all the way up to "Dashing through the snow..."  I know, I'm a walking contradiction.

I like the Christmas season and all, but the older I get, the more my feelings about the music are mixed.  And as I followed that thought trail, I had an idea:  Why not mix up the sleigh bells and bell choirs and silver bells with...more cowbell?

And that, friends, is how my YouTube playlist, "The Twelve Days of Cowbell", was born.  Norm and I had fun coming up with two pages' worth of song titles throughout the day yesterday, and then whittled it down to an even dozen.  It is an eclectic mix.  I hope you enjoy!  (PS-The first one may be my favorite, drummer boys!)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Another Baby Quilt Flimsy

More playing with scraps this week led to another baby quilt top.  As it turned out, my husband's coworker had a baby boy, so the predominately pink flimsy was set aside and I started something else.

Some Dresden wedges from a former project were sliced in half and became the basis for something like crumb blocks, which I then bordered on two sides.  Between the front background and what will be a pieced backing, I think I'll use up most of the DS Quilts Collection fabrics in the stash, although I'm sure there will be a few scraps remaining (yay).

Dad popped in for a visit this morning and volunteered to be a quilt holder-upper for the pictures.  Thanks, Pa!

I went to a work Christmas party last night, which included really great food and merriment.  It helped me get into the holiday spirit.  Maybe our tree will get put up this weekend, which should take all of 10 minutes since it's a small prelit job that lives in the basement with a dust cover over it the rest of the year.  Beyond that and a few other do-dads, that will have to suffice for Christmas decorations.  The shoulder is still taking time and energy to rehab.  I wish I could say that after a month of PT, it's better, but it is, in fact, a bit worse.  My doctor appointment is next week, so we'll see if any changes are to be made, but I have a sense it's just going to be more of the same for a while and will take time.

I haven't quilted anything since, sheesh, I don't remember when (summer?), so we'll see how it goes with this baby quilt.  The new parents are on family leave until after the first of the year, so I have plenty of time to get it finished.  I also finished the table topper flimsy one night/morning between 3:00 and 5:30 a.m. when I couldn't sleep, and I plan to get that quilted soon too.

Friday, November 29, 2013

And Another Thing

One thing seems to lead to another around here when it comes to scraps.  I had a lot of these petal shaped pieces left from cutting out drunkard's path shapes for Hemispheres.  I just pushed them all to the side of the cutting table, or as I like to call it, the creativity zone.

I already had gotten a bonus quilt from some of these scraps with the recent Drunken Monkeys baby quilt (yes, I did just call it that).  That quilt may have a home soon if Norm finds out whether his coworker had a baby girl.  She had a baby; that's all he knows so far.  Guys are funny.  We ladies might not only know the birth date and gender but also the first, middle, and last names, weight and length, how long of a labor, and whether it was induced, natural, or Cesarean, among other things.

Back to the scrap story, I played around with the petal shapes and soon I had this kind of thing going on.  It reminded me of a Pyrex design, which only made me want to sew it together more, one way or another.

Here it is pinned to a background and I'm auditioning other fabrics to incorporate, thinking this could be a small table runner.  After all, something cute should be underneath the vintage Pyrex.

Another thing in the pile creativity zone on the cutting table was the EZ Dresden ruler, which was handy for the borders.

I decided not to fuse the petals down but instead just sew along the raw edges and down the centers to anchor them.  I may go back and zigzag the edges (or not) before I quilt it.

Just a reminder, I am having a SALE on the Thoroughly Modern Lily quilt pattern, at 33% off the regular price now through Wednesday, December 4.  Click the pattern link on the top right sidebar.

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving.  I made five wild ducks (and two duck breasts) in the crock pots, and I bet if you made a turkey, your house smelled way better than mine.  Nevertheless, they tasted very good and were appreciated by the whole crew, especially the hunters in the family. 

Linking to Whoop-Whoop Friday at Sarah's place!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Little Monkeys

"Five little monkeys jumping on the bed..."  

If monkey wrench blocks count, we've got five of those little guys on this quilt, along with some pinwheel drunkard's path blocks.  Hey, there's a quilt name in there somewhere:

Drunkard Monkeys? Drunken Monkeys?

Well, okay.  Maybe not appropriate for a baby quilt, but it makes me giggle, though this quilt was made in a teetotaling state.

Pretty sweet for something that started from leftovers, if I do say.  Norm likes it too.  He has nothing against pink in the right setting, apparently.

Speaking of pink, I picked up a vintage pink blossom milk glass square casserole at Goodwill a couple weekends ago (that may be a personal record for adjective-to-noun ratio in a sentence...you word geeks are counting them now, aren't you?  I gave up trying to figure out where or whether to put commas). 

I was going to give it to my sister, but forgot she only collects the fruit motif.  These pieces are often known as Gay Fad, which was the name of the studio founded in 1945 by Fran Taylor that hand decorated blanks by various glass makers such as Anchor Hocking, Hazel Atlas, and others.  I believe this one is Fire King.  Sometimes this design is known as peach blossom or dogwood.

It has been really cold lately with highs in the teens, and I was in a warm coat, scarf, gloves, and hat when I took the quilt pictures yesterday.  Today the ground is covered in a layer of white.  And so it begins.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Hemispheres Flimsy and Cookin' Leftovers

These shorter, colder days are not very conducive to quilt photography, at least indoors with my little point and shoot dealie (that's official camera speak, don't ya know) anytime past mid-afternoon.  

Nevertheless, here is my Hemispheres Quilt-Along flimsy.  

My walls are not yellowish green (they're off-white), but the colors of the quilt are fairly accurate.  Now, it's not exactly like I laid it out, two posts back.  I did sew it together that way initially, but when I showed Norm, he did not like the pink floral bits at all.  I had to admit I agreed with him.

His exact words were, "You didn't ask me about putting that pink in there."  I had to laugh.  I do ask for his opinion a lot, but he was right; this time I hadn't even thought to.  It's not like I feel I need his approval, but what he was saying, in effect, was that he felt the pink part was a mistake he could have helped me avoid.  Funny guy.

So after a little unsewing, it is now the way you see it above.  I actually have a plan for how I intend to quilt it, if you can believe it.  And I think I can do (most of) it with a walking foot, even though the quilting will follow the curves in the blocks, and then some.  We'll see.

Meanwhile, those pink print bits have not gone to waste.  I rejiggered them a little and made some monkey wrench/churn dash (same thing, right?) blocks.  This will probably end up to be a little baby quilt, either for donation or to hang onto for a future occasion.

Linking to Whoop-Whoop Friday at Sarah's.  But before I go, I want to wish my brother Darrell a happy birthday.  We just had a phone conversation about, among other things, the music we're listening to, and he steered me to this band.  Sister P. likes!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Tea Towel Challenge 2014

I'm so excited that Sophie Junction will be hosting Tea Towel Challenge 2014! 

Join me for the Tea Towel Challenge 2014
Last year, as some of you may recall, there was a Tea Towel Challenge at 15 Minutes Play.  Such fun!  My Tea Towel Tess quilt was the result of that.  Sophie did a fantastic Cock-a-Doodle Tea Towel Quilt.

Now there will be another challenge beginning in January.  It didn't take long for me to click over to eBay and buy a couple of prospects.

In her post today, Sophie asked what we collect.  Well, I have several pieces of vintage Georges Briard.  And now, thanks to my recent eBay spree, I have a couple of vintage Georges Briard tea towels to choose from for this challenge.

And then of course there's Pyrex, another fave collection. 

As it happens, I also recently bought a fun Pyrex inspired tea towel from Etsy store Fresh Pastry Stand.  I'm not sure I can bear to cut into this one.  Not yet, anyway.

There's plenty of time for you to join in, too, and find yourself a tea towel that will spark your creativity.  Click the Tea Towel Challenge 2014 button above to see the details and general timetable.