Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Out of season, I know,

but I finally got all of the blocks made for my version of Bonnie Hunter's "Crabapples" pattern (from "Adventures with Leaders and Enders"). I made the same number of tree blocks as the pattern, but I wanted a larger quilt, so I alternated them with fall colored batik squares. I'm still on the hunt for a border fabric that clicks for me.
This won't get assembled right away. Next week I am attending a two day retreat, with Pam Buda instructing (WooHoo!!), and I need to get two quilts cut and bagged up, ready to sew. I also have a couple of gift projects that I need finished soon, so this quilt will probably be on my design wall for a time. And while it is there, I'm sure I will be shifting blocks around to try and get the color placement just right. I have one more red block cut and I think I need to sew it up and put it somewhere in the bottom half, replacing one of those greens.

Mom was very happy with her little table topper. I need to remember to get a photo at their home of the quilt she made that is hanging on the wall, and this matching table topper made from the scraps of that quilt, gracing the table nearby.

Maybe you recall earlier this year when I received some UFOs from Karen (Log Cabin Quilter blog). Foremost among them was a large number of star blocks--well, almost blocks. The pattern for which they had been made called for them to be left in two parts, like this...
These half blocks were used to create rows and when the rows were sewn together the stars would be complete. I have opted for a different setting for these beautiful stars, so I have put my trusty new (old) machine to work with the assembly process. Where all of the seams intersect in the middle it creates a thick mass, but my little featherweight isn't fazed by it. Sews right through it as though there was nothing to fear. I almost have the pile of 50-something stars finished!
I am trying to come up with an appropriate name for this machine. I've had several great suggestions, but I haven't narrowed it down yet. I'm hoping to have her named by the time she goes with me on retreat. I've ordered my shoulder strap case from Jean and Bill Lyle. That will be such a relief to not have a heavy machine to lug around in an awkward case. Can't wait!

On so many of your blogs I have been reading about all of the projects you have planned for the coming year. In giving it some thought, I have
decided that where last year was my "Year of the Feather," this will be my "Year of the UFO".  I will go boldly into "unfinished" territory! I have gone through boxes, bins and bags and have come up with just under 20 projects (I know, that is a drop in the bucket compared to many of you) that were started and abandon in various stages. Some of them just need a border to be to the completed flimsy stage.

Several are completed sets of blocks that need to be assembled into a top

Others are all cut with blocks partially made.
This is just a sampling of what I found. All of them deserve a finish. This year I plan to get as many of them to flimsy stage as I can, and even quilt some. I will start with the ones that are closest to flimsy stage and work my way up, seeing just how much I can get done. I plan to make a mini quilt here and there, but until I have a bunch of these off the list, I will not start new bed-size quilts. Did I mention that I will be starting two new quilts in the Pam Buda retreat next week? Those don't count--I signed up for those workshops almost a year ago.

Now, I have a confession to make. I am totally addicted to the flavor combination of dark chocolate and peppermint. There has been way too much of it available during the holidays, and I have overindulged. These two have been my favorites--and the packages are near empty. Last night, as DH and I did a little grocery shopping, I was frantically scanning the carts of discounted Christmas goodies, hoping to find the remnants of either of these to take home with me and ration out over the next few weeks. Alas, nothing. I was forlorn, but pondering the possibilities of that ever present alternative--Amazon! As I hopelessly turned down the aisle of Valentine treats, I was pretty sure peppermint/dark chocolate would not be a featured flavor there.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear, but 3 bags of dark chocolate/peppermint Roca, at a greatly reduced price, sitting innocently among the Valentine Roca packages. I spoke not a word, but went straight to the shelf. I grabbed all three bags, quite ashamed of myself. (Oops, sorry, I got carried away.) I was ecstatic, but also looking around greedily hoping to spy some of the Lindor truffles. Success goes to my head. In the end, I settled (very happily, to be honest) for my 36 pieces of Dark Chocolate/Peppermint Roca, and if I am careful I figure I am good until, well---at least Groundhog Day.

So what are your quilting plans for 2014, and what guilty secret goes in your shopping cart, and what's in your wallet? Sorry, got carried away again. Too much dark chocolate and peppermint, I guess.
Until next time,
Janet O.

p.s. Between my birthday last month and Christmas this month, and sometimes for no reason at all, I have been the recipient of some lovely gifts. I was going to share them here, but was concerned that I might inadvertently omit someone, or something. I hope you can tell from my individual thank-yous to each of you, just how much I appreciate the thought and kindness behind each gift. I have been deeply touched!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Where did everybody go?

This is my last little quilt for this year's Simply Charming Every Other Month SAL. It seems that the participants have vanished into thin air. Never mind, I need closure (which is not evident if you peek in my UFO closet), so I am finishing up. When the SAL began, I went through the book and chose the 6 quilts I would make through the year. For December I chose to use the pattern named "Lucille's Sewing Basket." Yes, I switched it up a little, but stayed pretty true to the pattern.
 The basket blocks are 4" finished. They were all made using a holiday charm pack that had been gifted to me by DD#1. Though the quilts in the book are designed specifically around charm squares, this is the first time I have actually used a charm pack in making one of them. I wasn't going to use black sashing (it has been a frequent sight in my quilts lately), but it just insisted on happening. The setting triangles are from a Kansas Troubles holiday print that matched color-wise and theme-wise. I wanted to use a dark green, but didn't have enough of an appropriate shade. Maybe I can bind it in dark green--do you think? Whatever color I use, I think it needs a dark binding.

What is really fun about this little quilt is that I started the piecing with my new baby--as yet unnamed.

I have been trying to find a featherweight for a couple of years, and recently Kristie (CowgirlQuilter blog) offered to sell me this one. Isn't it sweet? DH bought it for my Christmas. The night it arrived I pulled out the parts that were cut and ready for this little quilt and did a bit of piecing. Then I carted it off the next day for a regular maintenance call, so it will be ready to go under the tree. Thanks, Kristie! I love it!!
And thanks to my friend, Annie M. (no blog) and her thoughtful and timely little gift package, I had a 1/4" foot, manual, bobbins and needles on hand. I was set to go!

How is everyone doing with finishing up their handcrafted gifts? After cutting it awfully close last year on getting three quilts ready as Christmas gifts, I was planning on a "no gift quilt" Christmas this year, with one exception. That exception is all ready to be bound.
I have said before that my mother gives me the scraps and leftover units from the quilts she makes. This quilt was made from some of those pieces. The quilt she created using these 9-patch blocks is currently hanging behind the sofa in her living room. It has a lovely appliqued border and is hand quilted. With the leftovers I have made her this table topper to go on her nearby dining table. The 9-patch center is just cross-hatch quilting, like her original (but mine isn't hand quilted), and there is NO APPLIQUE in the border of the one I made (big surprise there, right?). I did have fun feathering the border, though.

It will definitely be a white Christmas in my neck of the woods. I hope you have a lovely Christmas, whatever the color!

Until next time,
Janet O.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Life happens...

...which means that sometimes blogging doesn't.

So to update things, some of you have asked to see progress on those tiny 1/4" sided hexies DD#1 bought when we were visiting in New Hampshire. She recently sent me photos.
Her plan is to make this into a headband. This next photo gives you a better perspective on the size.
I can't wait to see her wearing this.

In my last post I offered 2 1/2" pineapple ornaments for a $10 donation to DD#2's fundraiser for dravet.org. A couple of them were left from the craft fair, but most of these were custom orders. I finally got the last of them sent off.

And speaking of pineapples, look what DD#1 figured out--she made a Snail's Trail from a pineapple block--a 2" pineapple block! I don't know that I could keep straight what went where on this little thing, but I love this block. Maybe someday I will get brave and attempt it.

A LQS had a Handi Quilter open house last week. They just got in a floor model of the HQ Sweet 16 (they already had two HQ longarm machines), and they wanted to know if they could use some of my quilts to display to show what you can do on that machine. I don't keep much of what I make, but I came up with some little ones for them to hang.
My quilts are hanging along the bottom in this photo. I'm sure you've seen them all before. I wanted people to know that you can do bed quilts on the Sweet 16, too, but any of those that I have quilted on Gidget have been gifted away.
It was a fun event, with demos every hour, refreshments, and a drawing for a $30 gift card to the shop. I won!! And I spent it immediately. Anything (except a sewing machine) that we could fit in our pink Handi Quilter shopping bag was 30% off. With a $30 gift card and 30% off, I got a few things I've had my eye on, but couldn't justify.

The nice lady in this photo is Tammy J., who was my very first FMQ teacher. She did all of the demos. I actually tried a longarm machine for the first time. I think I'll stick to my Sweet 16--you know, something about old dogs and new tricks.

I'm still not quite sure how this came about, but last week I had a bit of a surreal experience--six men in my sewing room! These gentlemen represent the Grace Company (company headquarters is 1 1/2 hours south of me), and Juki Corporation. They spent over an hour discussing my experience and preferences as a sit-down quilter (I'm sensing product development here). The photo was the idea of one of the gentlemen from Japan (three of them were from Japan and one of them was from "Juki America, Inc." in Florida.) I'm glad he suggested it. Without the proof I don't know if anyone would have believed me.

Many of you are in a deep freeze, as we have been. Today when I stepped outside I noticed some little icicles on the Christmas lights.

And this was the moon rise over the eastern mountains. Pretty, huh?

Not much of a quilty nature to share today. What sewing has happened has been mostly gift related and can't be shared.

Until next time,
Janet O.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Craft Fair Find, Another Swap, and the Giveaway Winners!

As I browsed the aisles of a local craft fair on Black Friday I came across a booth where a woman was selling small quilts and table runners. What caught my eye was the quilt ladders on which they were all displayed. I asked if she sold the ladders, too. She was such a sweet thing and indicated that though she didn't plan to sell them, she had plenty and if I wanted to buy one she would let me have one for $12.50. That would have been theft. I handed her a twenty dollar bill and walked away with my ladder before she could dig out her change. I still feel guilty, but it fits perfectly and is just right for small quilts.

What a fun time I had this afternoon meeting up again with Gayle (The Middle Sister blog). She was gracious enough to agree to another small quilt swap. This one was "A Square Foot of Christmas." The quilt was to be a square foot (obviously), in Christmas colors, but not Christmas fabrics. Gayle is very busy right now. Not only is it holiday time, but she was just blessed with a new grandchild last month and has a wedding next week. In the midst of it all, she took the time to meet up at our midway meeting place and swap our quilts. Here they are.

 The quilt on the left hung on my wall for about a week after I finished it. Recognize that pattern? Lisa Bongean's Old Glory Gatherings, translated into Christmas colors.
Now that quilt has been replaced by the cute yo-yo, lattice quilt, shown on the right, embellished with wool holly leaves and TINY little button holly berries. Click the photo to see the detail.  Gayle always does something so creative. I love it! Thanks for participating with me, Gayle!

I drew the winner of the giveaway, and I have to explain something. Soon after I started blogging I won a giveaway of a piece of jewelry by Julie over at Me and My Stitches blog. Ever since then we have joked that it was her turn to win one of my giveaways. Well, Julie, it finally happened! You won! WooHoo! I have your address, so I will get your prize on its way to you. 
I like surprises, so I decided to draw a couple of names to receive runner-up prizes of gift bags of my soap. Heartsdesire and Barbara B., if you will send me your addresses, I will get your soap sent out to you.

Until next time,
Janet O.

BTW, if you had expressed an interest in one of the pineapple or log cabin ornaments for a $10 donation to my daughter's fundraiser for Dravet Syndrome (which her youngest has) research, let me know. I can't recall each person that mentioned they would like one. We have a handful left, but I can make a custom one, if you have fabric preferences (batiks, plaids, CW repros, 30s fabric, etc.).