Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Trip for "2" to Boston (the Scenic Route)...

I'm back from a lovely week of quilting in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  Eight of us from our quilt bee were able to make it for our fall retreat and as usual there was a lot of laughter, too much food and, in my case, not enough sewing!  The weather even warmed up enough to make walking on the beach quite pleasant.

The Atlantic Ocean from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
I had a hard time trying to figure out what to bring to this retreat.  Most of what I'm doing right now is machine quilting and that doesn't travel well.  I packed up several new projects, but at the last minute I remembered an old UFO and threw that in my bag as well.

Although I managed to get one quilt cut out and make a few blocks on another, the only real progress I made was on this UFO.  Looking back, the last time I worked on it was in March of 2010!  The name of the quilt is "Trip for '2' to Boston" by Prairie Pieces.  It's an interesting pattern because you make it with a friend.  The packet contains 2 copies of the pattern - one for each of you.  You pick 15 fabrics in 2 color families gradating from light to dark.  Working together, you sew (and unsew) strip sets.  I had all my strip sets going to retreat and managed to put the center of the quilt together.


My next step was to cut off the tips of all the triangles along the outside giving me straight edges to add my borders; however, this leaves you with all bias edges so I waited until I got home to do this step.


Even though it was years ago, I can still remember how much work it was for Jan and I to pick out the 15 fabrics that make up the center of this quilt.  But now that it's put together, it was so worth it.  I love this quilt and wish I hadn't waited so long to finish it,


I have a pretty good idea how I want to quilt it and would like to jump right on it, but I have several other quilts I need to finish first.  I really hope this one doesn't sit around for another year waiting it's turn, but I'm not the fastest machine quilter so we'll see.  By the way, my quilt is 67" x 72", but the pattern includes directions from Lap size through Queen.


I've been extremely remiss in posting pictures of my furry babies lately so here's a snapshot of David.  You can tell he wasn't being very cooperative though.  He really wanted me to stop what I was doing and pet him.



Don't worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 
Philippians 4:6 (NLT) 

Monday, November 3, 2014

A little late...

OK, so it was the last day of the month (again) and I hadn't quite finished my quilt for the AYOS parade hosted by Sinta and Sherri.  I spent most of the month working on other quilts and didn't start this one until late.  It was 8:30 that night and I really only needed to sew the outer border on, but instead I decided to skip it and go to bed.  (That's just how I roll around here.)  I missed the parade this month, but finished the top the next day.

The pattern this time was Harvey by Miss Rosie's Quilt Co.  Although it is still made with charm squares, it's a much larger quilt than most Schnibbles at 72" square.


I love the center of this quilt and the border, but basket quilts aren't really my style so I changed it up a little and made a giant star quilt instead.


I used 4 charm packs of Strawberry Fields by Fig Tree & Co. and Bella Solid Snow for the background.  Fortunately, I happen to have a whole bolt of the red polka dot from this line that will be perfect for the backing.


After last month's quilt with the gazillion 1" x 2" flying geese, these 4" HST felt huge!  It went together pretty quickly though and I have a petty good idea how I would like to quilt it (when I can find the time).  This is another bright cheerful quilt that helps me forget it's below freezing outside right now.

As for the bulk of my quilting time last month, it was spent working on this quilt.  I've finished quilting the center of it and have moved on to the borders, but I'll have to share that in another post.


I'm off on a quilting retreat this week.  Although if you looked at all I've packed, one might think I was moving there instead.  I have yet to master the art of packing light!  My husband will be holding down the fort while I'm gone which means caring for our herd of 4 legged creatures.  They have an unfortunate habit of getting sick on him whenever I go somewhere.  One of them woke us up this morning at 3:30 with a hairball.  His only comment was, "And so it begins."  On the positive side, everyone's always so happy to see me return.  Here's a picture of one of the worst culprits, Jack...



If you want to know what God really wants you to do, ask him ... but if you don’t ask in faith, don’t expect the Lord to give you any solid answer.” 
James 1:5-6 (TLB)


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Whit's End..

So I'm back to an end of the month rush to finish a quilt.  That can only mean that Sinta and Sherri have started Another Year of Schnibbles again.  I have so much fun making these little quilts, but I always seem to be working up to the last minute.  This month though I was determined to not only make it, but also get it quilted.  No more Schnibble UFO's!

Sinta and Sherri picked the Little Bite pattern 'Whit' by Miss Rosie's Quilt Co. this time.  It's like a Schnibbles quilt except that it uses 2 mini charm packs instead of the regular charm packs.  (For those of you not up on the lingo, a mini charm pack is made up of 2 1/2" squares while a charm pack has 5" squares.)  Unless they're really on sale, I tend not to buy mini charm packs.  Because for about the price of two of them, I can get a regular charm pack and cut it down myself which nets me the equivalent of 4 mini charm packs.  Despite having a drawer full of charm packs I could have used for this  (          bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb            b <- my cat just typed this), I ended up going shopping.  I bought a charm pack of Best Day Ever by April Rosenthal.  She's a new to me designer, but I just love this line of fabric.  So bright and cheerful!

I used a charm pack of Best Day Ever and cut it into 4 mini charm packs.
I had trouble deciding which version of Whit to make, but settled on the top version initially.  After making all those flying geese (that finish at 1" x 2"), the quilt went together very quickly.


Although I like this version, I thought it needed more.  So I added some more flying geese, around 100 or so.


I have to share this candid of Sam I got while trying to photograph the quilt...


I thought I could quilt it fairly quickly.  I was only planning to do some straight line quilting.  But as usual, once I started, I kept adding to it.  Instead of just quilting around each block, I ended up quilting around each of the flying geese.  Then I decided the sashing needed something.  Then the borders needed more, etc, etc...


It's almost impossible to see the quilting in the pictures because of the white background.  It's only slightly more visible on the backing.  However, it shows up really well in person so I'm feeling like it's worth the extra effort.


I came very close to finishing this quilt this month, the only thing remaining is the binding.  I'll get that done in the next day or two.  Although the number of tiny flying geese in this quilt seemed daunting, once they were made, the rest of the quilt went together very quickly.  And now that the weather is turning colder, looking at this cheerful quilt just makes me smile.  My husband says the colors remind him of Christmas.  I completely disagree.  To me, they remind me of spring.  Is it crazy to be so looking forward to spring before winter has even come? 'Cause I really am.

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” 
Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT)


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Multitasking...

Perhaps in an effort to make up for my lack of sewing over the summer, I've suddenly become energized to work on so many different projects.  All at the same time.  And if you ask anyone who knows me, they'll tell you I don't like clutter.  I'm a very organized person, maybe even a little too much so. (I'm working on that)  When I redid my sewing room last year, I wanted to make sure everything had a place and the room was very clean and clutter free.  And it's remained that way since then.  However, I'm now working on so many projects simultaneously that almost every surface seems to have something on it.  If I wasn't enjoying the projects so much, it would be driving me crazy.  As it is, it's only bugging me enough that I keep trying to rearrange the piles more neatly.  This is the surface of my cutting table right now.


I have stuff for 3 projects on there right now - the Little Bite quilt Whit, Winter Wonderland and a free motion fillers quilt.  My sewing table is also covered with more of the same...


I'm rotating back and forth between machines depending on which project I'm working on.  One's set up for FMQ and the other for piecing.

I also want to fit in this Miranda Day Bag by Lazy Girl Designs.  I currently carry my knitting around in a free bag I got in the mail.  It's functional, but not very attractive.  This would be so much nicer.


And finally, there's still the mystery quilt hanging around on the quilt frame waiting for me to quilt it.  Somehow, I predict that one is going to have to wait a little longer before it sees any progress.

It's nice to have so many projects I'm excited to work on, but I admit I'm also eager to finish a couple of them and clear off my workspace.  (And of course it will be nice to have the finished quilts too.)

I could probably finish whatever I'm working on a little bit sooner if I didn't have so much help, but honestly, it wouldn't be nearly as much fun.


But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.  2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NIV)


Friday, September 5, 2014

Back to School...

It's that time of year again.  All across the country, children are going back to school and beginning another year of education.  I'll admit it.  I was always one of those kids who was excited about starting school.  I love learning new things, always have and hopefully always will.

So since learning about Craftsy and taking my first class, Improve Your Knitting with Patty Lyons, I've become something of a junkie.  From that class, I've been trying to learn both Continental (picking) and Western (throwing) knitting.  It's also led me to take other classes and try cables, lace, knitting in the round, learn blocking, short rows and I'm currently trying to make my first pair of socks.  Boy are double pointed needles fiddly!  In the last several months I've made a few prayer shawls and a couple of scarves.  I just finished this cable one the other night, but haven't had a chance to block it yet.


But Craftsy has more than just knitting classes, they also have quilting classes.  They have had a free Block of the Month 'class' available for the last several years.  I've now decided to make the Craftsy Block of the Month 2012 quilt.  Not only because I like the design, but also because Leah Day offers a class showing you how you can free motion quilt it.  I may not quilt mine exactly like she did, but the class offered a lot of great tips and designs.  I was vaguely familiar with Leah Day from the Free Motion Quilting Project that she started several years ago.  She's actually a very good teacher and I ended up taking a couple of her other Free Motion Quilting classes.

Fabrics for the Craftsy 2012 Block of the Month
Ok, so it looks like I've been spending a lot of time with my knitting and free motion quilting, but actually I've been spending most of my time cooking.  My husband and I are committed to eating well.  We eat lots of seafood and vegetables and I try hard to keep processed foods out of our diet.  (Having said that, I'll admit my husband is addicted to Golden Oreos.)  I'm a pretty good cook, but an awful baker.  So when I saw a class on Artisan Bread Making I jumped right on it.  Is there anything better than fresh baked bread?  Not only does it taste amazing, but it makes the whole house smell wonderful.  To give you an idea of how much bread I've made, it's been one month since I started the course and I've already used 25 lbs of bread flour.  I've tried white, wheat, focaccia and ciabatta bread.  There are a couple more I'd still like to try though.

Wheat Boule fresh out of the oven
There's also a free class on how to make the Perfect Pizza at Home.  The class covers making the pizza dough, sauce and an amazing herb oil.  We've had the Sicilian style pizza several times in the last few weeks and my husband loves it.  We've been trying so much new food lately that I've been having him rate them all on a scale of 1 to 5 to see if they're worth making again and the pizza is the only one that's received a 5-star rating so far (excluding the bread).

Sicilian Style Deep Dish Pizza
I'm taking several other cooking/baking classes including the perfect pie crust, cooking vegetables and
making Thai food.  To be honest, I hadn't eaten much Thai food before this, but since my husband loves it I was willing to give it a try.  For the most part I'm finding it delicious.  Although I'm still baffled about how something like fish sauce that smells so revolting and is found in almost every dish can make them taste so good.  Go figure!

I realize this entire post must sound like an advertisement for Craftsy, but honestly they have no idea who I am.  I'm just enjoying the classes and a platform where I can continue to learn new things.  And since I can watch them over and over again, I'm able to pick up and practice things I might otherwise miss in a sit down class.  Since I was absent from the blog for a good bit of the summer, this is also just a recap of what's been going on with me.

I'll leave you with this picture of David.  He wouldn't get off of some fabric I was cutting so I tied this extra piece around his neck thinking it would annoy him enough that he would leave.  I was wrong.  He loved it.  He wore it for hours until I saw him dragging it into the litter box and took it off him.  Silly cat!



"Pray for those who insult you." 
Luke 6:28 (GWT)


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Back to Quilting...

How can it possibly be the end of summer?  My internal clock is still stuck somewhere in June or July.  This summer has been a whirlwind and I feel like I've gone from one thing to another.  However someone told me the other day they're predicting this winter to be another cold and wet one.  If that's the case, I plan to hibernate in my sewing room until Spring.  I haven't had much time for quilting lately, but being shut in would give me lots of time to make up for it.

Recently I've started working on a quilt for my mom called Winter Wonderland.  We both made the same quilt back in 2011; hers is in blues and mine is in blacks and browns.  I promised to quilt hers over a year ago, but am only now getting around to it.


The first step to quilting it is to outline all of the embroidery.  It's slow, detailed work, but I'm halfway done with it.  Once I've finished that, I'll go back and quilt the background of each block.


I'm also burying all my thread tails on this quilt.  I've been doing that for about a year now.  I used to just stitch in place a few times when I started and stopped, but I feel like pulling the threads to the top, tying them in a knot and burying them is a little more secure.  (Not that I've ever had a quilt come undone doing it the other way.)  I also think it looks a little nicer.  In any case, I was trying to explain it to my mom and mentioned that I use the cheater needles to bury the threads.  She wasn't familiar with them.


Instead of threading the needle, you press your threads down through the slit on the top and they'll pop down into the eye, threading your needle.  You wouldn't use this for all of your sewing, but it's invaluable for things like burying thread tails.  (I'm using the John James Easy Threading Needles for this - aka cheater needles.)


I have both of my machines set up right now and so in between working on this quilt, I'm also practicing my FMQ (free motion quilting).  I recently took the Free Motion Fillers class with Leah Day on Craftsy.  (Hint:  If you're interested in taking one of her Craftsy classes, she offers a 50% discount on them if you go through her website.)    I've started quilting some of her fillers and plan to put together the sampler so I can try them all.  One thing I've already learned is straight lines are very difficult to quilt.


I have to mention one thing before I finish.  This time last year, our Sam was so sick we didn't think she was going to make it.  We had to carry her to the litter box to go to the bathroom and then hold her up.  However, she's doing amazing now.  She's more playful then she's been in years.  She has a birthday next week where she'll turn 14 and I'm so very grateful that's she's here with us to celebrate another one.  Thank you to everyone who prayed for her!


"Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.  For you will be treated as you treat others.  The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged."
Matthew 7:1-2 NLT

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Mystery Solved!

After such a great start to the summer spending lots of time in my sewing room, I somehow managed to catch a bug and put an end to all that fun.  I've been a complete slug for the last 2 weeks as I've tried to get over it.  I've had no energy to do anything other than sit in front of the TV.  I'm really grateful to whoever invented Roku.

At the beginning of the month, my quilt bee got the last clue to the mystery quilt and were finally able to see what it looks like.  (Fortunately I had finished both of my tops before I got sick.)  I'm going to keep the black/brown version and the patriotic version is for QOV.  They're both a nice size at 72" square.



Now that my bee has finished the mystery, I can also share where I found the pattern.  When looking for a mystery that we could do as a group, I just happened to stumble upon Persimmon Quilts website.  What a great find!  She has an entire category dedicated to QOV mysteries and this particular one is #28.  I looked through most of them and there are definitely more I'd like to make.

I already have the patriotic top loaded on the frame so I hope I can get it quilted soon.  I'm going to have company for the next week and a half so I know that there won't be much sewing going on then.  However, it's a visit I've really been looking forward to and I plan to have lots of non-quilty fun!

Here's a picture of Sam with her baby.  She's been really playful the last few days and it's good to see her acting so young.



Better a poor man who walks in integrity
than someone who has deceitful lips and is a fool.
Proverbs 19:1 HCSB