Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Lucky Thirteen!

That is how many years I have been blogging, as of next week. There is a lot going on next week, and I wasn't sure I'd get a post written on the very day, so this will do. More on that at the end of the post. 

This two-year-old project is a finish! This was started two years ago this month as a SAL with Chooky. Just barely got it bound, after picking it up from my quilter less than a week ago. That must be some kind of record for me, to have a king-size quilt bound in less than a week.

It took two men in the family to hold this over the deck railing for the photo. Its  93" x 106" size was too much for one wingspan.

I've always loved a Churn Dash, and I've made several mini quilts with the block, but this is the first bed size Churn Dash quilt I have made. It was a lot of fun to dig through my scraps and find coordinating fabrics to go in each block.  Then I was crazy enough to accept Chooky's challenge to do some triple Churn Dash blocks. That got tricky, trying to create the 1" Churn Dash blocks in the center. There is a good reason why I only put 3 triple blocks in the whole quilt. Go ahead and try dividing an inch into thirds. ;)

Didn't get the best shot of the quilting, but maybe if you enlarge this you can get an idea of the texture.

And while I am on the subject of this quilt I just bound, I have a question for those of you who use Clover Wonder Clips when binding. Have you had clips breaking on you very often? I have used them for years, having originally purchased a large package of the red (which I think was the only color available in the beginning). Then I was gifted a large pack of multi-colored ones a few years later, and had dumped them all in a container together. I was interested to note that after I had clipped the binding all the way around this quilt, as I stitched my way around the quilt I found several broken clips--and they were always the red ones. Anyone else have a similar experience? I have used these for years, and have clipped around entire quilts before, including the only other king size quilts I have made. Don't remember ever seeing a broken clip before. And now on this one quilt I have all of these. I even found another after taking this photo--that makes it a total of 20 broken clips. 

In April I did my last class on the tiny club blocks for my guild. It has been a delight to work with the gals who were crazy brave enough to make all of these 2" finished blocks. I just want to share one of the last ones we worked on in that class.

This little thing has 68 pieces in it!! That is insane in a 2" block! I think this is the only one where I had to trim some of the seams down to 1/8".

My fabric choices for the lower right quadrant weren't the best for contrast, but you get the idea.

I have learned a lot while making all these little blocks. Lynn is an incredible designer of tiny things, and I look forward to seeing what he does next.

As I wrap this up I need to say thank you to everyone who has read and commented on my blog over the years. I am so grateful for the encouragement, suggestions, sharing of ideas and fabrics, fun surprises in the mail, friendships, Zoom visits, and even visits in real life. I am a better person because of the goodness I see in all of you, and a better quilter from the things I have learned from you. I thank you for enriching my life.

This little "anniversary" drawing involves the following: 3 bars of my handcrafted soap, a magnetic closure sewing themed notebook, a new seam ripper (like rotary blades, I never replace these as often as I should), and a mini quilt I made over a year ago from an original pattern. It was a sample when I taught a class for a guild on a very snowy, blowy day.  If you aren't into batiks, you may not be interested in the quilt. Just mention in a comment if you would like to be included in this drawing.

Until next time, be creative, and be kind!

Janet O.

The valley is green now, but there is still snow on the mountains. In fact, they received more today.

Drawing is now closed.

Friday, April 5, 2024

Much to Share From March

Couldn't believe when March came to an end and I hadn't found time to post. I had been stitching more than I have for a while, but never wrote about it, so I will dump it all here.

Rocky Mountain Christmas was finally bound and sent to its new home.

I had hubby hold it in front of the snow covered mountains for this photo to match the Christmas theme. Made from Men's thrift store shirts, this is based on Bonnie Hunter's free Smokey Mountain Stars pattern. Being a very overcast day, the colors are darker than in real life.

The picture below, taken in my living room, gives you a better idea of the true colors.
I tucked my little Christmas gnome into the quilt to give this a holiday touch. :)

I also FINALLY got the borders on my Churn Dash quilt. This was sewn along with Chooky last year. I had the blocks finished and arranged by the deadline, but hadn't finished sewing it all together and adding borders. I so often stall on borders, even when just doing these long, straight borders with no piecing.

I just draped this over my living room sofa. I don't have floor space anywhere right now to lay out a king size quilt, and it is currently wet in the great outdoors, so this will have to do. I have always loved the churn dash block, and these scrappy ones were a delight to stitch up.  Even the challenge of putting a 1" churn dash inside the triple churn dash blocks was fun to attempt. As soon as I get a back pieced, this will be off to my longarm quilter.

In March I also made another batch of the tiny blocks for my guild class. Only one more month of these and we will have been through both sets of blocks Lynn Hopkins has designed so far. These will finish at 2" square. The rotary cutter gives you a little perspective on the size.
Also for guild I got another 5 placemats made up for our service project for Meals on Wheels. In February the gal in charge of this service project sent me home with a large bag of strips she had leftover from the placemats she had made. 
She told me to make what I wanted from them--she didn't want to see them again. I had fun digging through the strips to find things to coordinate for each placemat. The two on the left are definitely out of my usual comfort zone.

With the talk of the upcoming eclipse (which I am sad that I will be missing), I was recalling our experience in 2017 when we car camped to see the total eclipse a few hours from our home. You can read that post here. Canuck Quilter has a great eclipse pattern out that you may have seen Pat Sloan making. What a fun way to commemorate this event.

This is more than I have usually accomplish lately in a month, and it felt good to make progress on some things. Time with family and friends, time in the sewing room, time with books or violin, and time outdoors walking all fill my bucket when stress presses in. What, besides quilting, brings you joy and peace when you need it most? Please share with me in a comment.

Until next time,
be creative and be kind.

Janet O.

Yesterday morning I saw a glorious sunrise. But to make it even better, when I hurried outside to catch photos, I could hear the Sandhill Cranes trumpeting to welcome in the day. Do you have 20 seconds to see (and hear) how my day began? Make sure your sound is turned up.

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Tiny Blocks, and other favorite things

I have had many unfinished Tiny Blocks left from the story boards I create to teach the process of making the blocks at my "Sew Small" guild. I decided it was finally time to get them sewn together. The photo below shows all of the blocks I have put together in the last few days. All of them had already been somewhere in the assembly process and on a story board I have used in the last couple of months.

 The 2 1/2" ruler and the rotary cutter help give you size perspective. Believe me when I say that even when I have them already cut and partially assembled, these do not go together quickly. And the one in the upper lefthand corner went together incorrectly. It is supposed to look just like the orange one below it. By the time I realized it was wrong, I was not prepared to pick it apart and start over. I just call it a new and very awkward design. :)

You can see that some of these blocks have a white background (which is not a batik), and others have a creamier colored background (which is a batik). As I finish these blocks I place them on different boards, according to whether they have the white background, or a batik background. Below are the white background blocks.

It is a little harder to get a nice, flat press with the white background, which is probably a Kona White. 

I started making these blocks about 3 years ago when Village Dry Goods sponsored The Tiny Club, taught by the mastermind behind these mini creations, Lynn Hopkins. At first I was making them out of reproduction prints, and I was using scraps from my cutting table, and leftover HSTs cut down to size. These are the blocks I made while a part of that club.

The teeny star in the center was one I cut with the wrong template and made too small, but I like it. This is as far as I got before the club ended, when Lynn went on an 18 month mission.

When I joined the Sew Small guild shortly before Lynn left on his mission, he was a member of the guild and had been teaching the blocks to them. I was asked to step in and teach while he was gone, and that is how I ended up doing this. I switched to batiks when I started teaching, knowing they would give a crisper example, but I started out pairing it with the white fabric, because I didn't have good backgrounds among my batik stash.

Once I found some good backgrounds in batiks, I have pretty much been using them exclusively, and below you see all of the blocks made completely from batiks.

Altogether I have over 60 completed blocks, but due to the different fabric types, they won't all end up in the same project. I am still playing with different ideas in my head as to what to do with them. I have two more months of teaching, which means I will be adding a few more blocks to the pile. And if you like random facts, 52 is the largest number of pieces so far in one of these 2" finished blocks!

The only other quilting I have done this month has been working on the binding for my Rocky Mountain Christmas quilt. I had waffled back and forth on what to use for the binding. Everything on the front so far had been from men's thrift store shirts, and I didn't want that to change, but I also didn't want the binding to be too terribly scrappy. There is already a lot of that going on in this quilt.

I dug through my shirt stash and finally came up with two that I thought would play nicely together. If you look closely at the photo you may be able to see where one shirt ended and another began. Only one of the two shirts was actually used in the quilt, but you'd have a hard time believing the other one wasn't in it as well.

A favorite wintertime activity is assembling puzzles. For my birthday last fall I was gifted this puzzle, and I finally had a chance to put it up this month. It was a fun one to do.

I received another similar (but different) puzzle for Christmas, but I think next I am slipping in a recent gift of a puzzle about the state of Maine. The giver knew I have enjoyed several visits there, most recently just last September.

Another favorite thing is my winter garden on my kitchen window sills. (you can click on this to get an enlarged view)

These orchids usually bloom from around December until late into the Spring, and often I am enjoying this riot of color while outside it looks like this...

If you enlarge this photo, what looks like speckles in the photo are the big, fat clumps of flakes that were falling from the sky.

And this is the same view a few days later, zoomed in a little, as the almost full moon rose this month. In the photo above, you cannot even tell there are mountains in the background, as the snow was coming down so heavily.

I hope you are doing well, wherever you live, whether it is winter or summer or somewhere in between. And I hope that you are finding time for the things that sooth your soul in these times of so much chaos. I have actually found, since picking up my violin again last fall, that it is very beneficial to my spirit to express my feelings through the music. And it doesn't take as long to play a few songs as it does to finish a quilt! ;)

I am pleased that I actually got a second post in during February (but only because February had an extra day). My hope is that in March I get more done than tiny blocks and binding!

Until then,

Be creative, and be kind.

Janet O.

One last photo looking out from the front deck. Can you see the bird up in the treetop? I believe it is a hawk.

These are the eastern mountains, and the color on them is the reflection of the sunset in the west. (In order to get the photo without the power lines, I would have had to run downstairs and outside. But I was afraid the hawk would be gone by the time I did that.) 

Saturday, February 3, 2024

So much for good intentions!

I am just going to pretend that it hasn't been over a month since I last posted, and go on as if I had posted twice in January, as I had planned. :)

I can't even say for sure how many weeks ago this little charmer arrived at my house, but it was a delightful surprise! 

This was made by Doniene Fullagar, who used to blog at "Now It's Just Quilts". She explained to me that I had loaned this magazine to her about a dozen years ago, and that is how our friendship began. The quilt looked very familiar, but I had forgotten all about loaning the magazine. She now has completed the top for the full sized quilt, but had also made this tabletop/wallhanging size for me. Isn't it beautiful? I am very touched, and it was delightful to be in touch with Doniene again. She is a sweetheart! Some of you may still see her on Instagram.

Well, I finally sewed the last row of my red/white mini Burgoyne Surrounded. When working this small, I pin things to within an inch of their life before stitching the rows together.

And here it is, laying on the red print I used in the blocks. My intention was to use this for the final border, but at the moment it isn't talking to me. However, I don't like the idea of pulling in a print that I haven't used anywhere else in the quilt, and I don't really want to use the solid for the final border. 

So I am leaving this out on the dining room table to see if it grows on me. I should have put my rotary cutter in this shot to give the needed size perspective. Just keep in mind that the smallest squares in the chains are 1/4". A completed block finishes at 3 3/4".

The only other stitching that has occurred since my last post has been in the "Tiny Block" department. We started up again on these blocks in my guild in January. The photo below shows you the finished blocks I have so far--this encompasses the ones I made in repro fabrics when I took the classes from the designer extraordinaire, Lynn Hopkins, at Village Dry Goods a few years ago. Since teaching it in my guild I have been making the blocks out of batiks.

Nothing beats batiks for pressing flat and keeping a sharp edge to a seam. When you work this small, it really helps. Remember that each of these blocks finishes at 2 inches.

I end up with multiples of some blocks because of the "story boards" I make that show the steps of construction. Then after teaching them, I sew up most of the samples. Below are the ones that I still need to stitch together from the last few sessions from last year, and this first session from this year.

This gives you a little better size perspective below, with three of the newest blocks.

Word on the street is that Lynn could be offering his patterns and rulers in some new sizes--a little larger--and even smaller! And there is also a possibility of a Zoom class from him on these blocks. I will share info here as I get it, in case any of you are interested in any of those options.

In my post just before Christmas I shared 3 quilts that were ready for binding that were NOT minis. They still need binding, and another one was added to the pile. This is the half log cabin I started to sew up after my shoulder surgery in 2018. I finished the top early in 2019, but just decided to get it quilted last year. I finished the quilting last year, too, but somehow missed the photos when I was posting in December.

For the center of the quilt I used Barb Vedder's Fan Stencil. I bought it when she first came out with it, but this is my first time using it. She has a great tutorial here. You can see in the photo above that I used a leaf stencil for the outer border. Wasn't my favorite choice, but it was the best option from what I had on hand.

I quilted it on Gidget (my HQ Sweet Sixteen). I had my longarm quilter baste it for me. It is worth it to me to have that done. And it wasn't difficult to remove the basting stitches afterward. But now I have a LOT of binding to get done! Do you stall on binding like I do? 

I don't have any stunning sunsets to share--for two reasons. First is that I have been doing my daily walks on the treadmill since our January snows made mud out of the dirt road I walk on, and the snowplows push the snow off the paved road onto the only place you can get out of oncoming traffic when you are walking (no sidewalks out here). Snowbank diving is no fun!

But we have had a lot of fog lately, so I will share this rather different view we've had of late.

Until next time (which should not be over a month away), be creative, and PLEASE be kind!

Janet O.

Saturday, December 30, 2023

I Love Purple!

I really DO love purple, but that is also the name of a recent line from Judie Rothermel. Just this week this arrived in the mail from a recent acquaintance, and it was like Christmas all over again! Thank you so much to my benefactor!

I promptly went to the Marcus Fabrics website and downloaded the free pattern for a quilt using this line.
Even though I am still in a "no new starts" phase, I am allowing myself one or two small projects this year, because I have been such a good girl for the past 14 months. I think I will make a large baby quilt or small lap quilt from the blocks in this design. You can find the pattern here.

But before I launch on something new, I am making myself get in a couple of finishes. Maybe the quilt shown below will be one of them. You can read more about this one here.

This is a younger sibling to another Mini Burgoyne Surrounded shown below, that I did earlier in a controlled scrappy version. You can read more about that one here.

I have been working on these little red and white blocks recently while Zooming with the Chookshed Stitchers. I have one block left to assemble, and then I can put that last row together and put the border around the whole thing before figuring out how I will quilt it.

Always fun to catch up with these gals from around the world. Lots of laughs, solving world problems, and learning from each other, while we sometimes get some stitching in. And I am thrilled that my new iPad lets me see 16 gals at one time, rather than the 9 that were visible on my iPad mini.

I finally got my Nativities post from last year updated with this year's purchases and gifts. I have made it a "Page" under my header photo. It is the very last one listed, and is (very creatively--NOT) named "Nativities." :) You can just click the link here.

It may be a bit shocking to see a post from me already, since I just posted a week ago after a more than 2 month drought. But I am really going to try to do better! This was my last chance this year, and I made the most of it.

Wishing you all peace and happiness in the new year, and the hope that you will choose kindness!

Until next time,

Janet O.

This was the sunset behind my house when I headed out for my walk this evening. It wasn't expansive, and the color didn't last long, but it was pretty while it was there.

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Merry Christmas, friends!

It has been over two months since I posted and I don't blame anyone who has given up on me. I almost did.

About the only thing quilt related that I have done lately is pick up quilts from my long arm quilter. I am always so pleased with what she does, that if I was independently wealthy, I might have her quilt everything I piece. But at least two of the quilts are Christmas themed.

First up is an oldie, but goodie from 2012. This is Flurry. Click that link for the pattern from Moda. I made mine a bit smaller for a wall hanging size.

I had my quilter do an all over design in the center, ditch stitch in the narrow red border, and a swirl pattern along the outer border. I won the fabrics to make this from LuAnn's Loose Threads blog and actually got the top put together in reasonably good time. Just never got it quilted, until now.

Another Christmas quilt that finally got quilted (but not bound) before Christmas is what I called Rocky Mountain Stars. It is a Stretched Star pattern, using Bonnie Hunter's free pattern called Smokey Mountain Stars. I pieced this in 2011.

I added an extra row to the width and length. Like Bonnie's, mine was made from men's thrift store shirts. I asked my quilter to do a meander with a random holly and berry design thrown into the mix. I think she did an excellent job. She also did berries in the cranberry colored border, and a holly and berry design in the outer border, as you can see below.


The next one is not a Christmas quilt, but the colors, for the most part, would work for the holiday. This is made up from blocks that were sent to me by former blogger Karen Beigh. These blocks were from two different projects, but I thought they combined well to make a lovely quilt. I put this top together in 2016.

I told my quilter that I definitely wanted feathers in this quilt, and she did not disappoint.
I have no idea what to name this one.

Further Christmas stitching occurred at my November guild meeting. We were making "quilt as you go" placemats for the local "Meals on Wheels", and I chose to make mine Christmasy. 

We are a very small guild, and we focus on making doll quilts and mini quilts. We are appropriately named "Sew Small Guild". That is supposed to reference what we sew, not the size of our group. But we are down to 8 members, with two more saying they are joining up in January. Between the 8 of us, we turned in 36 placemats.

I love those fabrics in the top placemat. All but one are from an early Judie Rothermel Christmas line--Christmas colors, but not Christmas prints. That is my preference. I had some of this line many years ago, but used up the last scrap of it in a Pam Buda SAL last Christmas. One of our guild members brought strips from this line to our placemat making session, and it was a pleasure to sew with them.

I used the scraps to make this mini quilt for a friend for Christmas. It started out to be a mug rug, but ended up a little big for that role, but kind of small for a quilt. I can't believe I just said that!
She has it now, so I thought it was okay to share it.

For my birthday last month hubby took me to a first annual Nativity Market in Salt Lake City. Hundreds of nativities available for sale. I am drawn to the international nativities, and that is where hubby snapped this photo. Above my head you can see the sign for the area where I spent my money--"Nativities From Around the World". I came home with three new ones--one from Peru, one from Kenya, and one from Columbia. And then my neighbor to the west of our farm gave me one she brought back from Argentina, where she and her husband have been providing leadership for a mission there for the past three years. When I get a chance I will update my nativity page and let you know, so you can see the new additions, if you are interested.

Then early this month I went to a nativity display at a local church. The posters said there would be a thousand nativities on display, from around the world. Sounded wonderful to me. This is the sight that met my eyes when I walked into the church's "Cultural Hall".
Over 1000 nativities everywhere you looked, in every imaginable style and theme, from countries all over the world. And here's the kicker--they all belong to one woman!!! And to top that, this is only half of her collection. I can't fathom that, but it is a good warning not to get too caught up in your collecting of anything. My sister referred to this as a "holy hoard". But there were some very beautiful, reverent nativities, and I spent well over an hour browsing through them and occasionally speaking with the owner as she wandered among the visitors answering questions.

Oh, I need to post more often. I have cut out many things I had intended to share because this is so long, but I really want to show you this. Another splurge on my birthday was a new case for my violin.
It is carbon fiber and the color is called lavender, though it is much lighter in color than any lavender I have grown. I prefer to call it lilac. I have had the same light brown case for this violin since my parents replaced my starter violin when I was 15. That old case was over 50 years old! Christmas Eve morning (does that make sense?) I am playing a violin duet in church with a young gal that is almost 50 years my junior. In preparation had my violin refurbished last month (it has been 17 years since I last played in church), and figured it was time for a case upgrade. I love this case. It makes me smile every time I look at it.

I am sorry that it has taken me so horribly long to get a post written. Some of you may recall that I offered a Kathleen Tracy book in my last post (months ago). Denice is the winner of the book, and she has been notified via email.

If you are celebrating Christmas, I hope you have a joyous and peaceful holiday commemorating the birth of our Savior.
Until next time,
Be creative, and be kind.
Janet O.

From a recent evening walk. This is not the sunset in the west, it is a reflection of the sunset over on the eastern side of the valley, and it happened to be brighter and more colorful than the sunset itself. Click the photo to enlarge and get the full effect.

Monday, October 9, 2023

Little quilts, and big and little boats

There have been attempts made several times over the past few weeks to get a post written, but I never got farther than opening the "new post" window.

However, I do actually have a couple of small tops to share. From a pattern Pam Buda gave to our Circa 1880 Club when she visited us last July (based on a little quilt made and gifted to her by her friend Karen S., of Elgin, IL), I made these two little cuties. They measure 9 1/2" x 13 1/2".

It is a sweet way to use up leftover blocks and pieces from our Circa 1880 quilts. I planned to make one with a black fabric for the sashing and borders, but it just didn't happen. As I dug through fabrics to see what I wanted to use, these two seemed to be playing nicely, so I picked them. I am very happy with them--but I still might make a black one someday.

For those who were interested in the items I shared in my last post (back in August), I did draw names, notify those chosen, and get them sent off--I just never wrote a post to share that info. But Grace, Denise, Terry, and Cathy K. have all received their little packages.

But there is another chance to throw your hat in the ring. A friend was cleaning things out of her sewing room. She had 2 extra copies of this book. I took one copy for me, and this one is to share with someone who would like it. Mention in your comment if you are interested in the book, and I will do another drawing in a week or two.

I spent almost half of the month of September in travel. We got on a big boat (the Zuiderdam) and cruised with friends again from Quebec to Boston, with several stops along the way. We enjoyed walking around Old Town Quebec.

Saw some glorious sunsets over the water.

Visited PEI, Cape Breton, and Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Saw lots of these...

...and visited the Lucy Maud Montgomery memorial park, and the Anne of Green Gables house, PEI National Park, the Alexander Graham Bell Museum, and the cemetery where the majority of the bodies recovered from the Titanic were buried. If you haven't yet sensed a theme, I love historical things, and I am sparing you from most of the photos of the many other historical places and monuments we visited.

Did some of this (in a little boat--kayak, actually) off the coast of Maine (yes, it was foggy--but fun)...

...had a delightful visit with these good people while there...

(for those who may not know her by sight, that is Wendy the Constant Quilter in the cool shades, with her hubby, Gordon, behind her). Always a treat to be able to spend time with them. Thanks for taking the trouble to meet up with us!

In Boston, before flying home, we only had a chance to visit a handful of the sites on The Freedom Trail, but the one that touched me the most was the newest addition to the trail, The New England Holocaust Memorial

This had me feeling so much emotion. It is pretty amazing. You can take a virtual tour at the link below. I know it isn't the same as being there, but it gives you an idea of the well-thought-out layout and design.

Then a couple of weeks after we got home, Hubby and I headed up to Idaho for a few days. We did many things, but our main objective was an afternoon kayaking trip to a little cove off the Snake River created by a spring. It can only be accessed by water, and hubby has been kind of obsessed for the past couple of years, with getting up there and seeing the spring. It took less than an hour to paddle to the spring from the rental place. The water was glassy for much of the way.

In the photo above, where the light-colored, downward pointing triangle-ish shape is seen on the darker rock wall ahead, it pretty much points down to where the little cove is off to the right of the river, as the river bends away to the left.

Inside the cove the water is clear, and the color of turquoise. Such a peaceful, magical-feeling place. We had it all to ourselves for about 15 minutes. Then we headed back upstream to turn in our kayak and drive to the little creamery in the nearby town. After a couple of hours of kayaking, I think you earn an ice cream!

The next day, before heading home, we visited a "relocation camp" where 13,000 Japanese Americans were wrongfully held during WWII. This is all that remains of the structures, but there were large signs with photos and information placed around the grounds to help you understand what went on for these American citizens who were denied their rights.

It was a sobering experience. Hard to believe this happened in our country.

That concludes my travelogue post. 
I can't believe I let so many weeks go by without a post. Shame on me. In my defense, we have had family staying with us since August 1st, and they are my priority right now. But I do hope to be back again before October is over. Maybe I will finally take down all the patriotic mini quilts and get up the fall and Halloween colored ones. And maybe not. ;)

Until next time, be creative and be kind.

Janet O.

Just a little taste of fall from my neck of the woods. It was a bit past peak color when I got this photo, but still pretty.