Saturday, December 30, 2023

Five Pounds!!!

That's what a week of Christmas celebrations will add to you.

We actually had a wonderful holiday with our family in Arkansas.  

Lots of games, including a hotly-contested Ticket to Ride Old West.

I didn't win 😒 but it's always fun to play with our competitive crowd.  We played Uzzle, too.  A lot more challenging than I expected it to be.  Definitely challenges one's spatial observations.

Gifts included art projects from the 2.5-YO great-grand.

And DH gave me travel books to enhance a quilt cruise we're taking later next year.  I'm sure you'll be hearing more about that later.

A brisk hike at Petit Jean State Park on the day after did very little to help me take off pounds, but was fun.

Just a side note:  I think DH and I have worked out the computer/cloud problems and I hope to be posting on a more regular basis next year.

Happy New Year 🎉

Friday, December 29, 2023

Coaster Tutorial

I haven't written much lately because of holiday prep, travel, and computer issues.  Right before we left town I was madly turning out coasters -- first for the guild's mug rug challenge and then for family stocking stuffers.

By the way, the guild members made close to 200 mug rugs for nurses at the county medical center and hospice house.  

I think I made 8 for the nurses and, while I was in high gear, I kept whipping them out for the family.  So easy that I thought my loyal readers might appreciate a tutorial.  Unfortunately, I don't remember the source for this pattern.  But here goes:

  • Start with five 5" fabric squares.  It's fun to pick a theme and use at least two different fabrics on the "pretty" side.  
  • Select one square to be the "bottom" of the coaster.  Fold and press the other four fabric squares into right triangles.
  • Cut a batting square at 4-3/4".
  • Center batting square on the wrong side of the "bottom" square and press to make it stick (just hand-rubbing works).

Turn that bottom square (with the batting stuck to it) right side up and place one of the triangles in the upper right corner

The 2nd triangle goes in the upper left corner, overlapping the first triangle

The 3rd triangle goes in the lower left corner, again overlapping the earlier triangles.

The 4th triangle is a bit tricky.  I bet you already figured out it goes in the lower right corner.

Initially that 4th triangle will overlap the others but you will need to gently raise the first triangle and tuck the 4th triangle under it.

I have found it helpful to pin each edge before stitching 1/4" around all sides of the coaster. (If you don't catch all of the batting in your stitching, it should be OK.)  

Trim the corners.  

Then the fun begins! Turn everything inside out.  Be patient.  You'll probably need to poke the corners out.

Obviously this is a different coaster than the other pictures, but you get the idea.  And, voila!

This is a great use for your batting cut-offs and a fun way to use charm squares and scraps.

Thursday, December 7, 2023

The Projects from Center Earth

 I can't believe it's been almost a month since my last post (Thanks to those who reached out and said they missed me).  I have been trying to weed out some stuff and all I've accomplished is a bigger mess.

That's my cutting table.  Kinda makes it difficult to get much done in the quilting department!  You may recall that back in October I had a failed start with On the Up and Up, an AP&Q pattern that I had seen on Nann's blog (With Strings Attached).  I had assumed my pre-cut squares were 2-1/2" when, in fact, they were 2-5/8".

So I decided to go back to that baby quilt to jump-start my sewing mojo.  I wasn't too far into the project when I realized I was constructing the blocks incorrectly.  Because the pattern download was in black and white, I had a hard time distinguishing what was supposed to be background squares.  I had to deconstruct the blocks in order to deconstruct strips of three squares.  I let the bits and pieces "mature" on my design wall for a bit.  Maybe a quick and easy project like a jelly roll race would give me satisfaction ...

... NOT!  I finally decided it was time to wrap up the baby quilt and today I have a finished top!

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Retreating in Kentucky

 I love quilt retreats! 

It's an uninterrupted opportunity to work on larger projects.  We are fortunate when we get together at Loucon Camp and Retreat Center near Leitchfield, Kentucky that we have lots of room to spread out with plenty of tables and great lighting.  But the biggest joy is the inspiration received from other quilters.

I have been pretty productive.  First project was putting a binding on a very large quilt.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture before I put it back in the car.  Next I added side borders to Cursor (I call it Lost) that I finished several years ago.

Sadly, I did not have enough fabric for the top and bottom borders ... so it went back in the box.  I'm hoping I have more at home; otherwise I'll have to consider another option.  Now that I look at it, I think the blue was intended to be the binding because that's how much short I am ... Note to Self:  Leave notes to self!

Then I turned my attention to Shadow of the Bear Paw, started at Quilt Camp in October 2018!

I finished five more very fiddley blocks and decided I was done, at least for the time being.  The pattern includes some uneven log cabin blocks that I'm not thrilled with so I need time to consider how I will set these blocks and/or if I need to make more.  I have made bear paw blocks with the scraps so I may work up a design with the paw blocks as a border.  Stay tuned!

I next brought out a random batik project that had no directions as to what I intended to do.  But while I was digging through my pattern drawer for the Shadow pattern at home, I came across an EQ plan for the batik blocks.  This is the result ...

(Sorry, I cut off the bottom in my photo.)  I will need to do something to stabilize the edges, but it's finally together and I love it!  I still have a box full of the four-patches, though, so look for yet another batik project in my future.

I added borders to Chunky Churn Dash ... it will be donated to Devo encouragement quilts.

Today has been a day of starts and stops ... not much to show yet so I'll wait to report more tomorrow.

Monday, November 6, 2023

Fall Has Fell quote some comic character whose name I forget -- probably Pogo.

Remember that maple tree I posted last week on Thursday?  I took that photo right before DH and I left for a quilt study weekend in Shipshewana, Indiana.  This is how it looked when we returned the following Monday.

I have one Knockout Rose that has survived the overnight freezes ...

... and the Beautyberry bush is loaded with berries.

I'm surprised some animal hasn't discovered them.  I've heard one can make jam with them, but I'm afraid to try.

On the quilting front, I'm seriously considering Bonnie's 2023 mystery.  How about you?

I'll be heading to the S'mores November retreat today.  I hope to have lots of progress (and maybe some finishes) to show you.

Thursday, October 26, 2023

It's Fall, Y'all

 At least that's what my calendar says.  And the leaves around us attest to that, as well.

But my Christmas cactus apparently didn't get the message.

Actually, I think last year I determined it was a Thanksgiving cactus ...

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

The Whole World is Asking

 What is Thymely Chicken?

I am happy to provide the answer:

Thymely Chicken

 1 Cup cooked rice
4 Slices bacon
1/4 cup Finely chopped onion
1/4-1/2 tsp Thyme
Bacon drippings
1 Cup (at least) shredded par-boiled or stewed chicken
1 Chicken-flavored bouillon cube
1 packet cream-style chicken Cup-o-Soup
Salt & pepper

 In skillet cook bacon; remove and crumble (save drippings) into rice.   Saute onions in drippings.  Add to rice/bacon + stir.  Add to chicken..  Salt/pepper to taste.  Dissolve bullion and soup in ¾ cup boiling water.  Pour over mixture and stir.  Bake covered at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.


Tuesday, October 24, 2023

The Importance of Thyme

In a previous life as a family we were struggling to make ends meet.  Without excess funds for recreation, I tried to make "events" at home (not to mention getting help with the workload).  Cooking with the boys was one of those activities.  We found a recipe on Jimmy Dean's Sausage for stuffed zucchini boats.  

First of all, zucchini was totally foreign to us, but I bought some and we tried (and liked!) the recipe.  Secondly, we had never used thyme.  We were so intrigued by the flavor that we came up with a totally new recipe, Thyme-ly Chicken.  I still have that recipe card in my older boy's hand writing!

Well, I made zucchini boats for supper last night and texted a picture to both boys recalling how it made me think of those early days.  

The response from them both was enough to keep this old heart a-ticking for a long thyme!

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Never Assume

You know what they say about assumptions ... well I proved it true this week.  

I had seen a free pattern in American Patchwork and Quilting that I thought would be easy for comfort or encouragement quilts.  Since Devo was cancelled on Tuesday, I decided to devote my day to sewing anyway so I headed down to the studio to give the pattern a try.

The pattern calls for 3-1/2" strips and squares, but since I have so many 2-1/2" inch strips and squares I decided to convert the pattern.  I picked a background fabric and some coordinating charm squares that could easily be cut into four 2-1/2" squares.  I made a couple of sample blocks and they were just awful! Certainly not picture-worthy; you'll just have to take my word for it.

Then, as I glanced over my shoulder, I saw a stack of bright squares that would work in this pattern so I set about cutting 2-1/2" strips of a an older background with lots of bright colors.  I stitched enough squares into a strip of threes to make 13 blocks and cut the appropriate number of background pieces.

Once I started combining squares with strips I saw a slight discrepancy in the size between the bright squares and the newly-cut background which I figured I could accommodate in the seams.  Then I realized the error of my assumptions:  The bright squares are 2-5/8" !!!

No way can I accommodate that in the seam when every block has three of those squares right through the center of the block.  

I threw in the towel and poured a glass of wine!  The seam ripper will be busy today.

I know it's been a while since I posted.  I am well and  I've done quite a bit of sewing; it's just a matter of getting the photos into the blog.  I have found a work-around until I have the chance to clean out the cloud. It will be high priority come November!

Friday, September 29, 2023

No More Snails!

Yesterday I put the final paper-pieced corner on this little beauty.  I bought the panel at Back Porch Fabrics in Pacific Grove, CA in early February.  

I don't remember if I got the pattern at the same time (and at this point I can't even find the pattern to provide proper credit).  Later in February I picked up the cream and green grunge at Whittle's.  And quickly put the borders and first corner on ... then it sat until yesterday.  I have picked a pretty floral for the back and plan to get it quilted before the end of the year.

This morning I woke with a foot cramp a little before 5 so I decided to go ahead and get up.  Once the coffee was ready, I headed downstairs to finish the last 8 snails' trail blocks.  

They didn't go down easy, though. I was cruising along, pinning in my free time in front of the TV, and the last four had the third round TOTALLY wrong.  Wish I had taken a picture.  So it was rip and re-sew before I could get to the final round of triangles.  Believe me, I was very cautious about what I was doing from there on.  The snails are going back into timeout until a November retreat when I will have the pattern to show me what to do next.

With nothing major on my calendar today, I decided to move another project closer to the finish line.  I started Judy Neimeyer's Summer Solstice in 2018.  I made the 8 New York Beauty blocks in the class, but balked at doing the Lone Star with paper piecing.  I used strip piecing, instead and used class time at the recent LAB retreat to get that much done.  

Today I focused on the borders that will square this piece out to 58" square.  I had the great idea that strip piecing would also work, but figuring out the details made my head hurt.  Time for a glass of wine!

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

I've Been Sewing!

Recovering slowly from my week at Life's a Bear Retreat. But I finally got back into the sewing room last week after getting the machine back in place, though I can't say the pathways through the sewing room are anyway close to cleared.  

The first thing I tackled was assembling the rows of chunky churn dash (I've since learned the block is also called 4-square) at Devo last Tuesday.

I am auditioning fabrics for borders.  The current plan is to donate this one to a very young heart transplant patient.

At 4th Friday (the guild open sew day) I finished assembling the blocks for Gray Flannel Suit (the charm square fabrics remind me of men's ties) and yesterday I added the borders.

I have been reviewing my UFOs, looking for some that can be quickly finished at the next sew day, either Devo or 4th Friday.  In the process I came across a moldy oldie -- Of Flowers and Snails by The Artist's Palette.  

LOTS of snails trail blocks that twist in both directions and include different combinations of fabrics.  I think I originally planned to use the finished snails trail blocks in a small quilt... 

... but when I opened the box I found that I have cut most, if not all, the blocks! 

So every day this week I will try to get at least one group of blocks made.  Sadly, I can't find the pattern, so a friend is going to bring me hers at the next retreat in November where I will have plenty of design wall space to lay it out because it's a double!

Monday, September 18, 2023

More Retreat

So, I've figured out a way to get pictures for the blog -- I email them to myself from the phone, then save to my desktop where I can retrieve them for posting.

As I said before, this year's LAB retreat focused on a Cindy Williams original design called Lollapalooza.  And it was just that!  Cindy is a great teacher and fun to study with.  

We learned to use a ruler designed by Robin Ruth to make the construction of compass points with strip piecing.  Yes, I know, that sounds impossible, but it works!  However, word of warning:  the ruler is NOT intuitive!  The accompanying book is required.

Look at the wonderful work our group of retreaters did in 3.5 days:

I'm the one on the left end who looks like she's naked down below.  Here's a closeup of what I accomplished.

I'm not sure where I'll go from here.  I was so impressed with what others did with their lone stars that I'm regretting not doing the whole project.  But I don't have enough fabrics in my stash in those particular colors so I may need to go shopping.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Life's A Bear

 And slowly this bear is coming out of hibernation.  The old computer has been repaired and I have finally found my blog on it.  So I thought it about time I check in.

After a busy catch-up week, I am retreating in the North Carolina mountains this week along with 23 other quilters at Cindy Williams' annual Life's a Bear retreat.  This year we are at the Hinton Center in Hayesville, NC, working on Lollapalooza, a combination compass/lone star pattern.

I opted not to do the lone star portion of the quilt on the first day; instead, I worked on finishing an ages-old lone star.  

This is Judy Neimeyer's Summer Solstice.  I took this class at Quilt Camp in 2018 because I thought it would be an "easy" introduction to paper piecing.  I got the 8 New York Beauty blocks done in two days, but balked at paper piecing the lone star portion when I knew strip piecing to be much easier.  Five years later I still need to square out the corners and add borders.  But I'm happy to have moved it along.

On day two I made the 18-inch outer compass  and on day three I made the 8-inche center compass ...  Sadly, no photos because apparently the Cloud doesn't extend to the mountains 😒

I managed to put the compass all together today, then pulled out an old Judy Mathieson compass I started in a 2006/7 class with her.  It is paper-pieced with the perforated freezer paper.  A fun technique, but after unstitching multiple seams today, I threw in the towel.

I'm hoping the pictures will appear on the new computer when I get home tomorrow.

Thursday, September 7, 2023

I'm Back!

 And back in business!

We have been back from our cruise for over two weeks.  But, apparently, we picked up a virus from an insecure WiFi network on the ship and my computer totally crashed.  The good news is my husband gave me a new computer for Christmas.  But, being a senior, I was hesitant to learn something new -- until I had no recourse.

So  I have finally been able to access my blog (totally by accident, I can assure you) on the new computer.  The old computer has gone to the "Senior Geek" in our community to be restored.  And hopefully by tomorrow I will have access to photos and all the other things I need to keep this thing going. 

Thank you for your patience.

Friday, September 1, 2023

The Epic Vacation

 It wasn't my intention to tick off two bucket list items this summer but the timing was in our favor, so we went for it.  We took a little more than two weeks to recover from the Canadian train trip to prep and pack for the cruise to Iceland. I am so OVER international flights so when I saw that this cruise departed from and returned to Boston, I said "Sign us up!"

Boston was a particularly exciting port as we have a married grandson living there.  So we took a few extra days to spend tine with them before our departure.  As often happens, we were having such a good time with them I failed to get photos.  We did spend a day at the Boston Aquarium.  What a fabulous place!  

I think I'll make that photo of sea anemones the wallpaper on my new computer!  I have had a long infatuation with sea horses so was thrilled to see some in real life.

A couple of days later we boarded the Holland America Zaandam and headed to Portland, Maine for our first stop.  We had a nice tour of the area that included the Bush compound at Kennebunkport ...

... and a historic lighthouse.

Following that, we had a day at sea before we reached Nova Scotia and Newfoundland so I joined a group of knitters in the Crows Nest lounge to start working on a years-old large-scale EPP project that I started in a class with Christine Porter on a quilt cruise (circa 2008).  It took many more sessions in the lounge (and many glasses of wine) but I finished hand-whipping the pieces together and yesterday I added borders by machine.

It measures 21 inches square.

I took another hand-piecing project that I will feature in future posts.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

25 Days Later

 ... and 10 pounds heavier!

DH and I ticked another item off our bucket list with a 25-day cruise that included stops in Canada, Greenland, and Iceland! 

I've said before we don't like to announce a planned absence, especially one of nearly a month, so I had planned to prepare a few posts to schedule during my absence,  But last-minute preparations prevented that from happening.  Suffice it to say, we had a fabulous time.  And I managed to visit one quilt shop in Halifax, NS!  Iceland is a beautiful place, surprisingly green, whereas Greenland had the most ice (that we were able to see).  

And, since returning, I find many of my photos have not downloaded to the computer (full cloud) so I won't take time to include any highlights here.  Instead, I'll give you a look at what I was working on right before we left at the end of July.

I managed to make quite a bit of progress on the squirrel I was chasing.  Lots of chunky churn dashes have been added to the wall

I'm re-thinking the alternate squares, however.  so stay tuned.

I took some really old handwork projects with me and was able to accomplish a lot on sea days, 

but will save that for another post.