Friday, July 31, 2015

Before and After...

There is a time for everything,
 and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build
Ecclesiastes 3:1-3 (NIV)

This year has definitely been a season of change for me.  A time of uprooting, tearing down and building up and of healing as well.  So many things are happening one right after another (or on top of one another) that it's been difficult at times to keep up with them.  I've been praying.  A lot.

Last week, I spent a few days packing up my sewing room.  Now that we've sold our house, we have the fun task of clearing it out.  Fortunately, neither my husband or I are pack rats.  We don't have a lot of knick knacks or extra furniture.  However, you'd never guess that was the case while boxing up my quilting stuff!  I took pictures before I started taking everything apart.  I've loved my sewing space and hope to create something similar in the new house.



It is shocking how much those cabinets and bookshelves can hold.  It took 33 boxes to pack everything up!  My sister joked that it wouldn't take 33 boxes to pack her entire house.  I gave away so much fabric and other stuff when I renovated this room, I can't imagine how many boxes it would have taken if I hadn't!  My happy cheerful room doesn't look so happy or cheerful with all those boxes stacked up...



I truly hope the new owners get as much enjoyment out of this space as I have.  I've especially loved sitting in the window seat and looking out the window.


This should be the view out of my new sewing room.  The sun rises on the other side of the lake so I'll get to see the sunrise since I'm usually up before then.


However, they've just poured the foundation on our new home, so it will be quite a while before I see a sunrise over that lake.

My husband found this hummingbird in our garage today.  He exhausted himself trying to find his way out and my husband had to carry him outside. He rested in his hand for a couple of minutes - long enough for him to take pictures - then he flew away.



When you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.
Jeremiah 29:12 (NLT)



Monday, July 20, 2015

I'm Swooning...

After 14 years in the same house, my husband and I recently decided to start over and build a new house.  So the last couple of months have been non-stop busy with packing, trying to get the house ready to show and a temporary move.  We officially listed the house last week and are so grateful that it's already sold.  We had 3 showings and 3 offers over this past weekend.

All of this has left me with little time to sew recently.  My mom and I had been working on a Swoon quilt to use as a raffle for my niece's school.  I'll confess I only sewed one block and helped with a few others.  My mom did the bulk of the work.  Now that the top is done, I'll be quilting it.  FYI - The fabric in this quilt is Miss Kate by Bonnie & Camille.


Our 4 cats are not handling the move very well.  Of course, they've lived in the same house since they were all kittens so this is a huge transition for them.  I think the vet down here (whom I'm becoming very familiar with) is going to hate to see us go.  I'm sure I've already paid for his summer vacation and am working on his winter one!  In fact, yet another of our cats has just been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and has to have radiation treatment.  That's 2 cats within 2 months.  You'd think the condition is contagious, but it's not.  Jack goes in for treatment on Monday and she'll continue to be radioactive for another couple of weeks after that.

Jack
Sam has developed acne yet again and her kidney values have gone up.  However, I think she's adjusting the best of all them.  While the others hide when people come over, she's always out and ready to interact with them.

Sam

Moses is and always has been completely neurotic.  She hides under the covers all day and only comes out at night.  However, she loves to explore my dad's garage and is slowly cleaning out the cobwebs from every nook and cranny.

Moses
David was a terrified wreck for the first couple of weeks and hid under the bed most of the time.  He's now growing more comfortable with everyone and his surroundings.

David
Our new house won't be finished until November, so they've got enough time to really settle in before I move them again.  Hopefully they'll handle this 2nd (and last) move better than the first!

So let's not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up.
Galatians 6:9 (NLT)


Monday, June 8, 2015

A Little Gravity...

I have been meaning to blog about the Gravity Block of the Month I signed up for ever since I started it back in February.  This is actually one of the very few BOM's that I've managed to keep up with.  I've finished every set of blocks before the next ones have arrived.  However, I've never managed to write about it before getting the next package.  So I tell myself I'll blog as soon as I finish those blocks.  And well...  Here it is 4 months later.


The pattern is by Jaybird Quilts.  It's a great size at 96" x 97".  You need 2 of her specialty rulers to make it: the Super Sidekick ruler and the Hex n More ruler.  I've already used the Super Sidekick ruler for other things so I see that one being very handy.  There are 114 different fabrics in it.  The first month I got the book and rulers along with the fabric, but every month since then I've just gotten the two different packs of kona cotton.  There are 6 different colors in each package and each color is clearly labeled in case you need/want to get more of that color.


Each month you make the same block in 2 different colorways.  These are the most recent blocks.


And here are the other 6 from the first 3 months...


This quilt goes with nothing in my house.  It certainly doesn't coordinate with my bedroom.  I thought about that carefully before I signed up, but then did it anyway.  I love the colors and pattern that much.  I'll figure out how to make it work somehow!

This sweet girl is home after receiving radiation treatment for her hyperthyroidism.  She's doing well and having no side effects other than the fact that she's radioactive for the next couple of weeks.  We're supposed to be careful and try to stay away from her.  Of course, since she's come home, she will not leave me alone.  For a cat that likes to hide in the closet, she is sticking to me like glue.  I wonder if I might start glowing in the dark or perhaps develop quilting superpowers???

Moses
Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. 
Proverbs 11:2 (NLT)


Friday, June 5, 2015

A Reason to 'Celebrate'...

I couldn't be happier to have finally finished one of my long time UFO's.  I confess I was a little too optimistic about how long this one would take to make.  I put the label on it before I started quilting it.  It says 'Fall 2011'.  Ha! Ha!  I pulled this out for something else to work on at the recent retreat I went to and just kept working on it when I got home.  I'm really in love with this quilt.  It shows me how far I've come since I first started machine quilting.


Because of the light background it's really difficult to see the quilting from the front.  However, I used a black backing and it shows up well there.  I almost wish I'd left the label off because then the quilt would be reversible!  (My husband told me he prefers the back too.)


The most challenging part was definitely the curved cross-hatching in the border.  I was stumped for the longest time about how to do this.  Eventually I pulled out this ruler I have for sewing clothes.


I marked all the lines with a disappearing ink pen one section at a time.  I still had to do a lot of math and calculations to get it to work out evenly though.  In the end, I definitely think it was worth the extra time and effort.



I quilted 4 different fillers around the Dresden flowers in the center of the quilt and duplicated them in the border.  I also added some Diane-shiko to the center of each flower and feathers between them.



I used both the blue washable pen and the disappearing pen to mark the quilt top when needed, but a lot of it was just free motion quilted.  The Dresden's are attached to the background with a machine blanket stitch.


I'll admit that when I first started learning how to free motion quilt, I did it out of necessity.  I had a bunch of quilts that needed quilting and I couldn't afford to send them out.  (I'd rather spend the money on fabric!)  Although I loved making quilt tops, I really didn't enjoy quilting them.  But over the years, as I've practiced and gotten better, I've really come to love it!  And I had so much fun finishing this quilt.  When given a choice between piecing or working on this, I chose to work on this.  I have another one I'm quilting right now and I'm forcing myself to take a break from it to do some piecing.

Funny thing is, I still have a closet full of quilt tops needing to be quilted.  Although I love doing it, I never seem to pick simple designs and each quilt takes me a while.  (But I always think they're worth it!)  Ironically, I have had the perfect place in mind to hang this quilt since I started it.  However, we have now decided to sell our house and I can't put it up.  I guess I'll just have to find that perfect spot in the new house...

So here are the details for this quilt...
  • Size: 49" square
  • Fabric: Nature's Gift by Deb Strain, Bella Solid Natural and Black
  • Batting: 2 layers of Warm & Natural
  • Thread: Aurifil for the piecing and quilting - black and #2310
  • Pattern: I saw the quilt online and made my own version.

Now on to the next one...


Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. 
Romans 12:2 (NLT)


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Pint-Sized Blessings...

If you're like me, you have a hard time deciding what to work on at a quilting retreat.  Of course, you want to make sure you bring enough projects so you don't run out of things to do (that has never happened to me by the way), but you have limited space and don't want to over pack.  Generally I try to work on multiple things during a week long retreat, in part because it's more fun.  I can spend days beforehand going through my quilt room pulling out books, kit and fabric planning them all out.

This latest retreat was a bit different.  I went knowing there were 2 projects I really needed/wanted to work on - a raffle quilt my mom and I are making for my niece's school (for the next school year of course) and a baby quilt.  I also brought along a couple of wall hangings I could continue machine quilting if I found time.

I have so many quilting books on my shelves that I have yet to make a single quilt out of.  One such book is Sizzlin' Sixties by Heather Mulder Peterson.


I really love most of the quilts in this book and they can all be made with a jelly roll.  I had an Oz by Sanae jelly roll lying around just waiting for the perfect project.  The prints in it are so happy and fun and I thought they would work well in a baby quilt.


I needed a 60 degree ruler to make this quilt so I went digging in my ruler drawer.  OK, can I see a show of hands for anyone else out there who has a drawer full of rulers that they've never used before?  I can't be the only one.  (At least I hope not!)  A number of them still had the shrink wrap on them.  I was sure that I must have a 60 degree ruler.  I pulled out a bunch of them and used the 60 degree line on my Creative Grids ruler to measure them.  I couldn't find one!  I was completely perplexed until I realized I was reading the ruler markings wrong.  Duh!!!  It turns out I have several 60 degree rulers.

When I started on this quilt at retreat I really thought it would be pretty easy (despite the pattern calling it advanced).  I didn't consider how many bias edges and matching points there are.  I'm glad I made a much smaller version of the cover quilt, 'Oh My Stars' or it would take a very long frustrating  time to finish.  I was able to get the center put together during retreat, but had to order fabric for the borders online (which I'm still waiting on). (I'll straighten the sides when I add the borders.)


I've also picked out a soft minkee backing for it as well.


I already know how I want to quilt it so once I get the borders on, I hope to get it done quickly.  The baby is a preemie and still in the hospital so I have a little bit of time, but I'm praying she'll get to go home soon.  She's had a challenging start to her life and I pray for every good blessing to come her way in the future.


"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you."
Jeremiah 29:11-12 NIV

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Happy Birthday Sweet Girl...

I've just returned from 5 wonderful days at a quilting retreat on the coast.  How blessed am I?  Just before I left, Gabriel, our smelly sweet black lab celebrated another birthday.  She's 9 now and starting to slow down a bit.  Some of that though is undoubtedly due to the winter weight she has yet to lose!  She's getting a little grey in her muzzle, but she still loves to play with her babies and chase a ball.  Here are a few recent pictures I've captured of her.


Those brown eyes of hers will just melt your heart, and she knows how to use them to her advantage.  It's the main reason she's so fat fluffy right now.


I send my husband pictures like this during the day to remind him why he's working so hard.


FYI - While I've been typing this, my husband has gone for a run without Gabriel.  He takes her with him every other day of the week.  She's so distraught that he left without her, she's been howling at the window.  She sounds absolutely forlorn.  I sure hope he comes home soon!


I think I'll have to go see if a belly rub will cheer her up in the meantime...


The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 
1 Samuel 16:7b (NIV) 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

All in Good Time...

I've been meaning to write this post for the past several weeks.  Life is pretty busy, but generally in a good way.  Then I threw my back out yesterday morning (putting on a jacket if you can believe it).  So I'm currently resting and doped up on a new (very strong) muscle relaxant.  This means that I'm getting plenty of sleep and I now have the time to write this post.  (Warning:  If anything I say doesn't make sense, I'm blaming it on the drugs!)

I finished piecing the Cheerio quilt top shortly after my last post - at the end of March.  Truthfully, my husband isn't a big fan of all the bright colors in this one, but I love it!  I'm planning to put it over the back of my big red chair in my sewing room, so he won't see very often anyway.


I already know how I want to quilt it (which can sometimes be the hardest part) so I had hoped to baste it and get started on it right away. But between trips and such, it took me 3 weeks just to baste it.


David was a big help during that process...


He was better behaved than our Siamese Moses who kept trying to crawl underneath the backing fabric after I had it pinned to the floor.  I turned around at one point and there was a huge bubble underneath the middle of it.  I had to unpin it to get her out.

I've gotten started quilting it, but I'll have to wait a few days for my back to heal before I do any more.  Until then I'm going to try to enjoy the rest.  I have  a 'herd' of kitties who have volunteered to keep my company while I do.


He says, "Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."
Psalm 46:10 NIV