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


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

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

More Farming...

I've been continuing to putter on my Farmer's Wife blocks this past week in between setting up some other projects.  I'm loading another quilt on the frame (time to start emptying out that closet!)  I've also pulled out my other sewing machine to set up for FMQ (free motion quilting).  The hope is that if I have a machine dedicated for piecing and one for quilting, than I can work on both without the hassle of converting one.

Up until now all the blocks I've made have used template sets A & B (which I already own), but now I'm starting to run into blocks that use a set I don't have.  I've ordered it and am waiting for it to come in the mail.  I've still been able to make 9 more blocks though.

#20 Churn Dash, #111 Wrench and #12 Broken Sugar Bowl
#31 Evening Star, #103 Whirlwind and #15 Buzzard's Roost
#51 Hovering Birds, #52 Hovering Hawks and #6 Big Dipper
I started sewing #51 Hovering Birds first thing one morning having cut out the pieces the previous day.  For some reason that block seemed to give me so much trouble.  The first time I made it, it was too big.  The second time I made it, it was slightly too small.  I considered remaking it a third time, but wondered if I was being too picky.  Here's the block that was too big...

And here's the block that is a little small...

To be honest, the smaller block looks more off than the larger one, but that's only because the ruler is resting on top of the seams.  If I press it down, it's closer.  But looking at both of them now, I realize I am being way too OCD.  It's not perfect, but so what?  I think both of them will work just fine.

And here is a collage of the 24 blocks I've finished so far.  I think I'm going to continue to work on these for a while - in between a few other things.  I'm still enjoying them (and I'm going to work on not being such a perfectionist.)

My first 24 Farmer's Wife blocks
Moses is really enjoying the sewing room lately.  The problem is she's very demanding of attention and every time I move a piece of fabric she thinks I'm playing with her and attacks it.  There are definitely worse ways to be interrupted though.

Grace, mercy, and peace, which come from God the Father and from Jesus Christ - the Son of the Father - will continue to be with us who live in truth and love. 
2 John 1:3 (NLT)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Another Detour...

So after deliberating over all those tempting projects, I ended up pulling out yet another one - my Farmer's Wife quilt.  After starting on it with such enthusiasm in the beginning of the year, it has sat languishing ever since.  My goal was to make 1 or 2 blocks a week.  This is week 26 (exactly halfway through the year) and I had made a total of 4 blocks.  (Note to self - I should really stop posting my goals, then I wouldn't be embarrassed when I admit how completely I failed to meet them!)

I'm using the Marti Michell templates to make my blocks.  She offers directions on how to use her templates to make 101 of the blocks.  (If you're interested, you can sign up to receive these on her website.)   It's a little more fiddly to cut out the pieces, but because everything fits together so nicely when you're sewing, I think it's worth it.

She even simplifies some of the blocks so they use fewer pieces.  In the book, the "Box" block has 17 pieces.  Using the templates, my block only has 11 so there are far fewer seams.

I've been moving right along making these blocks and having a lot of fun with it.    I also felt like I was making good progress until I checked the book and realized I need 145 blocks.  I have 15 right now.  Only 130 left to go! Ha! Ha!  Here are the ones I've just finished...

#84 Spool, #81 Snowball, #23 Country Farm and #29 Economy
#9 Box, #41 Friendship Star, #10 Bowtie and #2 Autumn Tints
#69 Practical Orchard, #61 Northern Lights and #34 Flock
I'm not sure how much longer I'll continue to work on these.  I suppose as long as I'm enjoying it.  As for my next project?  That's still up in the air.

This is one of Moses' favorite hiding spots.  She can nap here and not worry about the other pets disturbing her.  She particularly loves to go here if someone comes to the house.  She's almost 10 years old and I don't believe my parents have ever seen her in person.

The heat and humidity that accompany summers in North Carolina are definitely here right now.  A lot of people are complaining about it.  However, after the extreme cold of last winter, I'll gladly take it.  Of course, if my air conditioning broke, I might be singing a different story...

Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:23-24 NIV