Friday, January 20, 2017

A Very Scrappy Week


Two entirely different projects on my wall. 

Every time I stitched two purple rows together, it made room for another diagonal row of monkeys.

A Ribbon Runs Through It - 1 of 2
The purple quilt (I'm calling Zagnuts) is now together except for borders. 

Ordinarily I would leave it borderless, but Covered in Love likes them a little bigger and that's where this one is going.  I'll add the borders at the next Nuts and Bolts retreat in February where there will be plenty of room to lay it out and measure.

Both of these quilts have used up a lot of miscellaneous scraps.  I'm counting Zagnuts for January Rainbow Scrap Challenge along with several other blocks I'll be showing later on.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Sew, Eat, Sleep, Repeat

Rock Island, Rock on!

It's hard to beat time spent with compatible friends, sewing and laughing and enjoying each other's company.  Such was my week at our annual Rock Island quilting retreat. 
Rock Island 2010

The cabins at Rock Island sleep 10, but we've found as we age that we like having our own bed!  This was my year to be the Queen; that is, I got the "master suite" with one queen bed.  Besides, it would be extremely difficult to get more than 5 machines set up to sew.

When we arrive (and when we leave) the living room looks like this:

But while we are there, the living room looks like this:

Quilting Central

The sofa gets crammed behind the stairway, and the chairs go into the bedrooms.  We set up the ironing board in the queen room and use the kitchen bar top as our cutting station.  What doesn't show in the photo are the shop lights we clip onto the rafters for extra lighting.  After 14 years we've gotten the details down pat!

I accomplished a lot, but only have one finish to show, and even that may see the seam ripper before it meets its back.
Checkers, Anyone?
All it needed was the four cornerstones to make the border fit.  Sounds simple enough, but I had to scrape the bottom of the box to make four checkerboard squares -- even had to bum four red squares from Nancy and use two gray squares from Holiday Frost. 

Wonky corner
I'm not entirely happy with this one wonky corner, it's not square; so I may fix it ... or not.  But it's done for now and it will make someone happy and keep them warm once it's quilted..

Next I worked on a spring wall hanging for my SIL's mountain cabin.

Mountain Spring
I think the pattern name is "Come Fly with Me." I made it from memory after making one in 2014 as a Secret Santa swap gift. 

The geese represent the Blue Ridge Mountains and the flowers, well, spring flowers. I wasn't happy with using the back fabric for the binding as I had planned, so it's not finished.

Next I added the black inner border to Holiday Frost.

Holiday Frost
I wasn't completely in love with the red border I had purchased; maybe it was the brightness of the red, or the Valentiney hearts on it.  I know, it's a minor detail for a quilt that will be used only a month out of the year, but since we were planning to hit a new quilt shop on the way home, I thought I'd see if I could find a better match.  No luck there, but at home I found enough of the red I used in the HSTs to make the border!  That will go on at the next retreat, if not sooner.

I spent the rest of Monday fiddling with a table topper that had Y-seams.  Could have been the late hour (or that extra glass of wine), but I wasn't in the mood to finish it.

Tuesday and Wednesday were devoted to churn dashes, or monkey wrenches, whatever you want to call them.
Sweet little monkey wrench
The pattern is called "Double Wrench" from the book 101 Fabulous Rotary-Cut Quilts by Judy Hopkins and Nancy Martin.  My plan several years ago was to make a pair of twins to go on the guest room beds.  Over time I had cut and begun construction on a duplicate set of blocks, but the project languished in the box.  I had failed to inventory the box before I left home and discovered too late that I didn't have any white-on-white to cut the last six pairs OR the setting triangles.
Double Wrench - a/k/a A Ribbon Runs Through It
I decided one quilt was better than none so I stole some blocks from quilt 2 to go in the first quilt top.  Who's going to know?  Well, I guess you do, now ... The rows are assembled, but I had to wait till I got home for the side triangles.

Thursday was devoted entirely to Geese Migration.  I began laying out the blocks before everyone was up, auditioned sashing fabrics and began assembling the rows.

Geese Migration (a/k/a Geese on the Move)
(That's a light fixture in the upper right corner, not my thumb.)  Things were going smoothly up until lunch time.  After the break, I forgot that I was squaring up the blocks as I assembled them, so the longest row had to be unsewn.  Final assembly will have to wait till the next opportunity.

My annual Rock Island Retreat is now history, one "for the books," as they say.

Check out other scrappy projects at Oh Scrap.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Retreat Time!!!

Off the Grid

In a few hours I'll be heading out to my annual retreat at Rock Island State Park in beautiful, isolated Quincy, TN! 

Rock Island 2010
Even though the temps are still in single digits (4F at the park as I write this) and there is still snow on the ground, we had a lot of sunshine yesterday and I've been assured by the park staff that roads have been "clearing nicely."

The challenge is going to be hauling a lot of my gear down our hill to where we parked my van as soon as the first flakes appeared Thursday night.  I had the presence of mind to pack a lot Thursday afternoon, but I didn't want my machine or water or delicate foodstuffs sitting out in freezing temperatures.  Fortunately, the machine is on wheels, the tool box is on wheels, and all the food and clothing can go in the wagon.

All this to say I'll be out of touch for the week. But I'll be documenting my progress along the way so be prepared for a lengthy post when I get back on Friday.  I'm going to try something new, taking the laptop to process pictures and write up each day's activity so that it should be easy to pull something together as soon as I get home.

And just to show something quilty, this is what will be staying on my design wall at home.

Zagnuts - I'm crooked, it's not
I realized I don't have enough of some of the fabrics to do an on-point setting; it would need the same number of blocks in each. With the more traditional setting I can use the shorter runs in the corners.

Keep Calm
Stay Warm

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Rainbow Scrap Challenge 2017

A New Year, A New Direction

It's Rainbow Scrap Challenge time again! And Angela at soscrappy is once again hosting this fun way to eliminate some scraps from our quilting activities.  The color for January is PURPLE.  (I think that must be Angela's favorite color because we had two purple months last year!)  So you'd think I would be running out of purple fragments by now.  NOT!

Last year I used the Rainbow Scrap Challenge colors to pull out a UFO to complete for my One Monthly Goal.  That turned out to be a pretty successful approach as I was able to complete seven tops, with another soon to be finished.

This year I want to make a bigger dent in my scraps.  Diann at Little Penguin Quilts has inspired me to make Scrap Jar Stars, a pattern she picked up from Gigi's Thimble.

Scrap Jar Star
I've made three already with scraps leftover from the Bonnie Hunter mystery, En Provence.

If I make 3 of these 12" blocks every month, I'll have a nice size quilt by the end of the year! 

But I didn't stop there. When looking for purples to use in En Provence I came across a big stack of
2-1/2" by 4-1/2" rectangles.  I started cutting them down to 2-1/2" squares for the 4-patches (my units are bigger than Bonnie's, a story for another day), but that seemed wasteful, leaving me with odd 2-1/2" x 2" chunks. So, inspired by a quilt I saw on another blog, I decided to make 2-log rail fences and do a zig-zag pattern.

Do you remember Zagnut candy bars? They were one of my favorites, but hard to find.  Anyway, now I'm torn on a setting.  Maybe you can help me decide.

Traditional setting
My first attempt is fairly traditional and certainly the easiest as it will go together in straight rows.  But if I put them on point, I think it gives a more modern look.

Modern setting
The only problem I see with this option, other than having to stand on my side when I sew, is I might be short of background to do any setting triangles that might be required.  I'd have to work that out.  What do you think? 

While you're thinking, pop over  to soscrappy to see some fabulous finishes from 2016 and some great plans for 2017.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

One Monthly Goal

January 2017

Oh, it feels so weird to type 2017!

Yet the new year is here, and a new month, so it's time to declare my One Monthly Goal (OMG) for January.

It's pretty lame, actually, but my goal for January is to tie up loose ends from the last couple of months, things that kind of fell by the wayside with the activity of finishing Christmas gifts.

Specifically, I need to add borders to Checkers, Anyone?

Checkers, Anyone?
I discovered that my border fabric is only long enough to go on each side of the center, so I need to create some cornerstones to make it work.  Simple to do; just need time.

Next up will be borders for Holiday Frost.

Holiday Frost
I have the border fabric; I was just trying to make a decision about an inner border.  I have settled on black, so now the top is ready to be finished.

Another project that I thought about in November, but never got past the thinking stage, is Trellis Garden.

Trellis Garden
I want to extend the blocks into the border.  I have worked out what pieces I need to cut. Now it's just a matter of doing it!

I'll be heading out to my annual retreat at Rock Island State Park on Sunday and these three projects will be first on my list to work on.

Linking up with Patty D at Elm Street Quilts for OMG.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Getting Off To A Good Start

There's something about beginning a new year.  All counters are moved back to zero; it's an opportunity for a fresh start in everything.  It's time to set new goals.

Keeping in mind that I want to spend more time with my spouse, not only having fun, but working on projects around the house to get it ready to sell -- well, that could be fun, too -- and potentially moving before year's end, I have settled on some modest quilting goals for the new year. 
  1. Have fun, no guilt 
  2. Learn to quilt
  3. Put a zipper in something
  4. Finish 6 UFOs
  5. Improve my blog
I'll expound on each of these goals over the next few days. But for now let's see how I'm doing.

Remember that mystery, the one I'm NOT doing?

En Provence
Bonnie Hunter made the big reveal on New Year's Day so I threw together a few units for some of the clues I haven't worked on just to see if I would like it.  I'm still not happy with the purple 4-patches but I think I can live with them. I'm running out of variety in the dark purples so I may decide to use just one for the HSTs.  I have cut different yellow squares for each block, but will use the same yellow in the quarter-squares.

So it's a GO. I guess I'm doing the mystery, after all. I'll join the linky party today to announce my intentions.

On another front, Angela at soscrappy announced the first color for Rainbow Scrap Challenge 2017 -- PURPLE!  My first thought ... well, I'll spare the expletives ... but my next thought was, "Yay, I can move some of these purple scraps off my cutting table!"

Scrap Jar Stars
Diann at Little Penguin Quilts turned me on to these fun stars and I've decided I'll make some each month with the RSC17 color.  You can find a free tutorial for these 12" blocks here.

Sew that's what's on my design wall this, the first Monday of the New Year.  I'll be linking up with Judy at Patchwork Times also.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Gearing up for 2017

Looking Back - Looking Ahead

At this time last year I was in a bit of a funk, lamenting the fact that my mother-in-law (a/k/a the Queen Mother) had taken to her bed for the final time, we had called in Hospice, and were anticipating the end to come within a couple of months.

Fast forward 12 months.  The Queen Mother is still with us, having not left her bed in a year, breathing with the aid of oxygen, peeing with the aid of a catheter, and barely able to recognize us.  Obviously God has a plan for her; I just wish he/she would reveal it to me.

In the last 12 months we sold a property in East Tennessee, came close to purchasing two others, and are now looking at houses to be our retirement home in the Johnson City area.

Husband recently "officially" retired and so far is not driving me crazy. I've heard stories from friends about how much their lives changed -- not necessarily for the good -- once their husbands retired.  Since mine has worked from home for the last two decades, there's hardly been a blip in our routines.  Nevertheless, I look forward to spending more time with him, my all-time best friend, when he no longer has the pressure of caring for his mother.

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to 2017, trying to settle on a plan that equitably shares my love of quilting with my love of travel and my love of spending time with my beloved.

Happy New Year