Sunday, August 13, 2017

Scrappy Goodness and More Ship

Life is pretty good here in New England.  The weather is beautiful, I've been in a good place and things are settling down.  June can be a busy month; we celebrate my husband's birthday, our anniversary, Father's day and my daughter's birthday all within 2 weeks.  Now it's time to just enjoy the beautiful weather, do some riding and meet up with friends.

I've been owrking on the Ladies of the Sea blocks and am making progress.  I'be got 8 blocks, 1 border and all 4 compas blocks completed.  I'm now working on the bottom border.  These borders have a lot of applique and will take some time.

I completed the quilting on my Scrapitude quilt in June and am very happy with the results.  It has made me realize that I like simple quilting.   I like straight lines and geometric forms.  That may be why I love piecing (but doesn't explain my love of applique.)  Even when I doodle, I usually doodle straight lines.

We did a lot of travweling in July and early August - up to Maine, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Cape Breton.  Then homw for a few days before heading out to NY, PA, MD, WV, VA, DE, NJ, CT and back home.  They were great trips, but I'm happy to be homw for a while and relax.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Manic Productivity

For the past few months, I've been in a period of high motivation and productivity.  I don't exactly know why, but I'm embracing it and getting a lot of stuff done.  

I started with cleaning out my craft closet.  It's a small closet, just over 36" wide, but it was stuffed with, well, stuff. I started small, working on one shelf at a time. I was trying to be honest with myself to determine what I wanted to keep and what I could let go.  I packaged up a lot of my beading supplies and gave them to a friend who does embellishment, gifted some other supplies to another friend who is just starting her journey into silk thread embroidery, bagged up some supplies and donated them to Good Will, and tossed others.  The hardest part was going through my UFOs and fabrics.  When I got to those shelves, I just emptied them onto the floor and started working through the mess.

Some time in the last few years we had a speaker in our guild who talked about her fabric organization and it stuck with me.  She folded all her fabrics to uniform sizes - one for yardage and one for fat quarters. I decided on two sizes - 9" x 11" for yardage and 4 1/2" x 5 1/2" for anything under 3/4 yard.  I cut file folders down as templates and used them to wrap my fabric around, then removed the templates. The yardage fits easily on edge into standard paper boxes and the smaller pieces fit side-by-side into the paper box lids.  Anything smaller than a fat quarter (more or less) got put into the scrap pile to be cut into standard sizes for making scrap quilts.  I don't have a huge stash.  I fit all that fabric into two paper boxes and 3 lids. I didn't bother to sort by color because it's not a large stash and didn't want to get delayed further by that step.  I may sort by color later, but so far I haven't seen this was as a problem for me.
I love the organization!  I can find what I'm looking for easily and have a reasonably good idea of how much of a particular color I have by just looking at it.

After going through the fabric, I took on the task of looking through all the UFOs. Again, I looked at each with a critical eye to decide if a project was still interesting or not.  I packaged up a few to donate to my guild's auction, and a few I simply threw away.  The ones I tossed were very old (UFOs from my husband's grandmother), and made from very flimsy 70's cotton/poly blends.  Originally I had intentions of completing them for future great-great grandchildren of Laura, but the fabric and workmanship was so poor I didn't think they would hold up to any use.  I have more of her UFOs and other completed quilts that are in much better quality, so I'm not erasing her memory.  In total, I still have 27 UFOs to complete.  They are all on the middle shelf and catlogued so I don't forget.  There were a few projects in there that I have no recollection of at all.
I designed and completed a table runner for the month of March. I have the habit of piling papers on the kitchen table.  To eliminate that, I found that a table runner reminds me to keep this area clear. I had a few and decided a themed table runner for each month would be fun.  I had a hard time coming up with a design for March because I'm not fond of shamrocks, leprechauns, pots of gold or other symbols of St. Patrick's day.  So, an Celtic knot pattern came to mind.  Google is my friend in finding all sorts of things and this pattern popped up early in the search.  I printed it to size, traced it, and hand appliqued the bias strips.  It's machine quilted and was on the table by March 2nd.

Oher things I've done are knit two pair of socks, appliqued another Ladies of the Sea block, quilted one top (down to 26 UFOs!) and completed another for the guilt's comfort quilt program, and assembled guild member blocks into our guild's next raffle quilt. Not to mention all the yard work to clean up after winter,

See, I told you I'vebeen busy!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Forever has Ended

Remember me talking about the Iris quilt?  This is an applique project that I started some time in 1991.  My family dubbed this the "Forever Quilt" because that is how long I've been working on it. My daughter, now 27, says she cannot remember a time that I haven't been working on this quilt. I haven't been working on this quilt continuously for the past 26 years.  There have been long stretches of time that it sat, tucked away in the closet because I was bored with it, or frustrated, or did not yet have the skills to go to the next step.  As of yesterday, it is complete!

It is hand appliqued, hand and machine stitched, hand quilted and measures just under 100" per side.. And I LOVE it.  But, I don't think I'll let a quilt take me this long to finish again.  I am much better at applique today than I was 26 years ago when I was just starting.  Looking at some of these blocks up close makes me cringe.

Because I have been focused on getting the Iris quilt done (Entitled "My Fantasy Garden"), I have not worked on other projects.  I wanted to be focused and complete this before I started working on other things.  I did one small knitting project between the time I finished the quilting and started the binding.

I wanted to knit a cap for myself and took a few days to knit this up.

I used double pointed needles because  I didn't want to spring for circulars to knit this, but I should have bought the circular needles in the correct size, too.  There were just a bit too many stitches on my DPNs and I dropped a few stitches before the cap was completed.  I found them and fixed the cap, but it would have been easier to just use the correct tools.

I also tackled an upholstery project in January.  This chair was a rescue from a client when we were doing the remodeling business.  The chair it replaced was in much worse shape and this chair has 'good bones'.  The plaid fabric we chose was not my first choice, but the $5.00/yard price tag for the plaid compared to the $25.00/yard for the print that I would have preferred made this an easy choice.  I had to buy extra to match the plaid and the process to do that took more time, but I'm happy to have spent $60 in total for the supplies to make this chair look much better.

Now that the Iris quilt is complete, I am moving onto all sorts of other projects.  But the next highest priority on my list is to get my craft/quilting closet cleaned out and organized.  I have started that and am working at it a little every day.  My plan is to have it complete by the end of February so it doesn't feel like an overwhelming task.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Time for Another Post

Sometimes I just need to jump in and start.  I've been feeling bad that I haven't updated this for a while.  I look at it like writing in a journal and my journal writing has always been sporadic.  I hate to write when life isn't going well because I don't like being that person who complains all the time.  Life has been good, so that's not my excuse.  I'm not making excuses, I'm just adding another post.

We spent a great deal of time on the road this year.  I've put over 10,000 miles on my new bike since April and we had a great time  The Honda is a lot more comfortable and fun on the road than the Suzuki was.  When we traveled in the past, once we were checked into a hotel for the evening I was loathe to get back on the bike for anything.  Now I don't mind running out again for dinner or other supplies.  It was a big decision to get this new bike, but I don't regret it for a moment.
I don't do a lot of crafting while we are on the road.  I used to carry some small hand work with me, but found that I'm usually too tired at the end of the day (especially when we're on the bikes) that I can only muster the energy to do some reading or watching TV.  So, there hasn't been a lot finished lately.  

I looked at the projects piling up and decided to start working on something else just to get to a 'finish'.  This picture of the Nubble Lighthouse in Maine was a Row-By-Row kit I bought last year.  It will eventually be a piece of a larger, marine themed quilt whose idea is still forming in my head.  Yes, it's not a total FINISH, but this block is done and the design for the rest of the quilt is started and moving forward. 

This block is the first border for Ladies of the Sea.  I worked on this all summer and most of the fall.  I'm happy with it with the exception of the light pink tulips.  I'm hoping with pop more when quilted.  Basically, I'm not much worried about it and will not change it (I think.)

I was feeling restless about not having a completed project for so long, so I put together a pair of socks.  I bought a small skein of black and used the left overs from two other socks to create the color stripes.  I wanted to use up some scraps and practice my color changes.  I did knot the colors together because I don't trust my weaving in the ends to hold everything together.  The knots aren't visible and don't bother me when I'm wearing them, so I may just keep up this practice.

I have been working on hand quilting the iris quilt.  I had the hoop in my sewing room, but found that I only worked on it a few hours a week.  Since I would like to have this completed by the end of the year (an arbitrary deadline) I moved the hoop and stand to the family room and work on it in the evening when we watch TV.  This way I'm getting a few hours a night work done.  I'm not positive that I'll get it done by year's end, but I'll be a whole lot closer than if I had kept it in my sewing room.  And it helps to keep me warm in the evening.

We had a good crop of wild turkeys in the neighborhood this year.  Last week we counted a flock of 26 strutting around.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, August 15, 2016

What's Up?

I've gotten to that age (OK, I've been here for a while) where time flies by.  I have no idea how I got things done while I was working full time.  Now that I'm retired, it seems that my days are just as full. Of course, not having a fixed schedule means I can and do spend a lot of time just sort of goofing off.

But, I have done a lot, traveled and completed a bunch of projects since I last blogged.  Here is a sampling ...

I completed those pink socks ...

bought a new bike ...

completed the green challenge quilt and entered it into my guild's show this spring ...

traveled through a good part of the eastern states in the month of June ...
saw the Rodin exhibit ...
 and got back to stitching again.  This was a kit I bought in Blairsville, Georgia at Fabrics Galore.  This is their Row by Row pattern for this year.  My original idea was to collect bird house rows and complete a quilt.  Now I'm not sure I really want an entire bird house quilt, so I'm not sure what will become of this strip.
My goal is to have this quilt completed by the end of the year.  I try to do some quilting on it every day now that we are home for a while.
 This cross stitch was started quite some time ago and completed in July.  I will probably frame it, but I'm in no hurry because I don't have a place in mind to hang it.
And this is the first border of the ships quilt.  This is the project I've been working on in the evenings.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Winter Progress

I've been in fairly productive period.  The weather is still not quite nice enough for me to be out in the garden or out on the bikes, so I've had a lot of free time to indulge on stitching.

I finished another Ladies of the Sea block.  I think this one is a little dull, but once it gets into the quilt it will be just fine.

We took a little trip out to western MA to Smith College to see their annual spring bulb show.  It is a welcome break from cold weather and snow (although we had a very mild winter this year.)  This is the third consecutive year that we have attended this event and it is always beautiful.  The theme two years ago was breast cancer awareness with all sorts of pink flowers, last year was an explosion of pastels with their Monet theme.  This year, Edward Gorey's book, "The Evil Garden" was the inspiration for the exhibit.  Gorey is one of my favorite authors and illustrators so I found this exhibit delightful.

I decided to take a break from my typical evening applique session to tackle some other projects.  I completed one pair of socks and started a second.

I had this kit for an Easter candle mat that has been languishing in my closet for a few years. (By far, not the oldest thing in the closet, but the thing that piqued my interest.)  I want to get this done before Easter.  I have one more row if stitching to complete it and should have it done.

 Pepper is a small wall hanging for a friend's birthday gift.  This is his dog and I think he will be pleased.

And I finally got started on the green challenge.  I went to a quilt retreat last weekend where I got a good start on this project.  I spent a lot of time staring at the fabrics I was given to see which would work best.  That took the most time. Cutting went fairly quickly and now the piecing is going well.  I am hoping to get this completed to enter into my guild's quilt show in early May.  That means I need to get some sewing done!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Family Tree Quilt and Another Finish

I finally freed the picture of my finished birthday gift from my daughter's camera.

I'm glad it's done and that my mother-in-law likes it.

I have named the blue quilt "Nothing But Time" because everything came from my stash.  This is one of Charlotte Hawkes' (of Scrapitude Quilts) mystery quilts, Scrap in a Box, from last year.  I grabbed a lot of blues to see if they would work together.  I'm very happy on the results of the piecing and colors.  I used the quilt to try out and practice some quilting fill patterns.  

 What I learned is that 18 is too many different fill patterns for me.  There area a few patterns I like and will use again.  There are a few that are my go-to fill patterns that I will continue to use.  But, I liked the more open floral pattern that I used on the half-triangle edge blocks better.  I like less dense quilting - it makes a softer quilt.

I'm taking a little break from my applique work that I typically do in the evening to knit a pair of socks. I am also continuing the hand quilting on my Iris quilt. I'm never at a loss for things to do.