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.