Saturday, December 29, 2018

December mini-of-the-month

I was determined to get my Mini-of-the-Month posted before New Year's Eve. My last post was 4 weeks ago, when I posted my November monthly mini a day late. So here is what I came up with this month. I hadn't done any stitching for weeks, and I needed a quick fix.
This is based on a Merry Mini Monday free pattern shared by Sheryl at Temecula Quilt Co. If you take the link to her post you will see how I altered it.

A "pre-binding" shot gives you a clearer look at the quilting. Very simple stuff, for a very simple design. I thought about hand quilting the motif in the center of each block, but I needed this to be a finish this December, not next year.

Here is another glamor shot. I  named mine Christmas Crossroads.

So what have I been doing all of those weeks when I wasn't stitching? Aside from the usual Christmas busyness, I was finishing up a very long-term project that has nothing to do with quilting.
In 2005 I began acting as my Father's scribe while he dictated his life story. In his later years he had a genetic tremor that made writing and typing difficult, and I was anxious to have his story. So we worked once a week, whenever we could, over the course of 10 years. The last year of his life we just tacked on a paragraph now and then to tell what he was doing at that point. Since his passing I have proofread, edited, searched for photos and documents to include, and tried to eliminate duplication. When you spread your story out over that many years, it is easy to forget that you already included something in another section of the story.

The past few months became crunch time, with a goal to have the book printed and bound for my siblings and I to give it to our children for Christmas this year. In order to achieve that I set aside everything that I could and spent hours every day for weeks getting it ready to submit. Mission accomplished! And I just realized that today is the second anniversary of his passing. 
Sure do miss you, Dad!

Now I have a little more breathing room time-wise, I have started quilting one of the minis from the stack of those that need completion. I chose one from a Pam Buda pattern that I made a couple of years ago, I believe.
This is the stitch-in-the-dtich in progress on my DSM. Tedious at times, I admit, but I like what it does for a quilt, so I persist. I will move to Gidget (my HQ Sweet 16) for the FMQ.

I received a belated birthday gift earlier this month from my friend, Kris (Lavender Quilts blog) in Oregon.
She sent me one of those great fabric bowls she makes in some of my favorite colors. And she stocked it with goodies, too! Thanks, Kris! I love it all!

Just want to share one more thing (channeling my inner Columbo). I have repurposed a quilting item as a "game night" helper. When our kids come over for game nights at our house, we have occasionally run into issues with some games that require you to hold a large amount of cards in your hand, and keep sorting through them to find which one you need to play. A year or two ago, while playing the card game version of "Ticket to Ride,"  I realized a quilting ruler rack was perfect to hold my hand of cards, let me see them all at once, and choose the one I wanted to play much more quickly and easily. Since then I have used coupons at Jo~Ann to pick up a couple more, when I didn't need something else. Now I have enough for 4 players! Here you can see 2 of us with our hand for a round of "Deer in the Headlights."
Now you know what to get with your next coupon! :)

Have you decided on your quilting goals for next year? I have been giving it some thought, and have come to zero conclusions. However, I have almost narrowed down the projects I will be taking to retreat the second week of January. Looking forward to it!

Until next time, 
Janet O.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

A Tardy Mini of the Month--and more

Others have said they barely squeaked under the wire with their entries in Wendy's Mini-of-the-Month challenge. I don't even qualify for that. I tried to get this posted before November came to an end, but it just didn't happen. My mini Dresden Plate flimsy became a finish in November (well, almost finished--binding needs stitching down). This was made using mostly the Wild Orchid line of fabrics by Blackbird Design. Being the proud owner of over a dozen orchids, how could I not love that fabric for it's name alone?
All of the stitch-in-the-ditch was done by walking foot on my domestic machine, and the outer border was done via free motion quilting on Gidget (my HQ Sweet Sixteen).

But the echo quilting around the plates was done by hand. When I can, I like combining hand and machine quilting in my minis, placing the hand quilting where it will shine, and letting the machine do what won't be as visible.
I marked the echo line with a ruler and a water soluble pen.

Here are front and back shots of the quilting. They can be enlarged for a better look.

You can clearly see on the back view that the binding is being held down with pins. Why is it that most of my Minis-of-the-Month have been posted in that condition? Can I never fully meet a deadline? Apparently not.
I opted not to stitch between the blades of the plates. The seams were pressed open, so ditch stitching wasn't an option, and there were too many layers and overlapping seams there for any hand quilting.

It feels good to have this finished (almost). Though I am always cutting it close--or entirely missing the mark--I have appreciated that Wendy's challenge has helped me get a few small finishes in a year that has seen a minimal amount of quilting time.

I know many of you have seen or even participated in the fun Temecula Christmas mystery SAL. Isn't that a great little Burgoyne Surrounded in holiday colors? Made me think of the red/white Burgoyne Surrounded that I began years ago. I had to hunt a bit to find it, and when I finally did, the contents practically exploded out when I opened the bin.
This will be a 9 block mini. The blocks finish at less that 4", and with 97 pieces in each block, they are some mighty small pieces, and it takes concentration to put a block together.

After opening up this project box I took the time to trim up the 4, 6, and 9 patch units needed to make one block. Then I laid it out next to a finished block.

It never ceases to amuse me to see how much mini blocks shrink when assembled. The rotary cutter is there to give perspective on the size.

And while we are on the red/white theme, I got one more X block ready to stitch down. If you missed my last post about the 70273 project, you can click here to see what this is all about.

A parting shot from my recent birthday. My youngest son celebrated his birthday just a month prior to mine. This balloon his boss gave him was still inflated enough that he brought it to add to my celebration. I think it is a hoot!

Prayers go out for all those who have suffered loss recently, through natural disaster, or senseless violence. Sometimes it is hard to know where your resources can best be used. But doing good anywhere is better than doing nothing. I hope if you are able, you have chosen a way to help. And if you are not able to give, I am a firm believer in the power of prayer, and that is anyone's to offer.

Until next time, 
Janet O.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

The 70273 Project post

A couple of posts ago I shared about my participation with The 70273 Project and promised a future post on the subject. 

Several bloggers have already posted about this inspired project from Jeanne Hewell-Chambers. I will add my voice, and encourage any who feel they are able, to join in. The project badge is on my right sidebar, and you can click that to go to Jeanne's blog for details about the different ways you can participate. But to introduce you to the project, I quote from Jeanne:

Between January 1940 and August 1941, Nazis murdered 70,273 physically and mentally disabled people – men, women, teens, boys, and girls. Though they never even laid eyes on the disabled person they were evaluating, the Nazi doctors read the medical files and, if from the words on the page, the person was deemed “unfit” or an “economic burden on society”, the doctor placed a red X at the bottom of the form. Three doctors were to read each medical file, and when two of them made a red X on the page, the disabled person’s fate was sealed.
I will commemorate these 70,273 voiceless, powerless people who were so callously and casually murdered by gathering 70,273 blocks of white fabric (representing the paper the doctors read), each bearing two red X’s (representing one person), and I will stitch them together into quilts. 

Is there any one of us that does not know and love someone that would have fallen into the same category as those 70273 who lost their lives  in such a heartless manner? Whether it is a mental or physical challenge, or just the declining abilities brought on by aging, we would all have lost people we cared about, if not our own lives.

What an opportunity to take part in this art project with a purpose, to commemorate those whose lives were cut short, and see that this sad episode of history is not forgotten, or repeated!

Jeanne is about 2/3 of the way to her goal, and is displaying the work wherever she can. If you explore her blog you can find several of the displays she has already done. 

I had sent in 5 blocks last month that I had made by piecing.  I always start with fabric a bit larger than the finished block is to be. Then I cut them twice on the diagonal and pieced in the red strips, repeating the process going in the opposite direction, to form the Xs. I tried to make each X just a little bit different from the one beside it.

Once they were made I trimmed them and added a white border all around.
They looked far too neat and precise, not at all the way I imagined those Xs would appear as they were thoughtlessly slashed onto those papers. 

In trying to salvage what I had made, I trimmed them again (good thing I had made them oversized), but this time I made them a bit wonky.
I just have to hope that all of those extra seams won't be so obvious when there is white batting and backing behind them.
This project was on my mind off and on throughout Thanksgiving Day. I wanted to come home from our family feast and make more blocks, but I was up very late the night before making these... I crashed when we returned home and I had somewhat tamed the mountain of dishes I had left behind.

Friday was mostly spent out and about in birthday celebrations, but I had prepped some white blocks and red strips of fabric before leaving home. I stitched my first X block by hand as we drove to and from our destinations.
The other 6 were quickly stitched down by machine in the evening as hubby watched a football game and I kept him company. You can faintly see in the photo above that I cut my blocks larger, and draw pencil lines for the final size, keeping my work well within those lines. That way any fraying that takes place while I work won't shrink the block to an unusable size.

I pressed the edges of the red fabric strips under, pinned them in place, and stitched them down very close to the edge with a straight stitch. No fancy applique involved (thank goodness). It went very quickly, and I am much happier with this second set of blocks.

There are many ways the blocks can be assembled--even as simply as stitching down red ribbon or ric-rac.

And, making blocks is just one way to be involved. You can make small quilts, help piece blocks together into a quilt top, offer your services as a quilter, get your guild involved in making a quilt or having a block making meeting. You can make hanging sleeves, or fabric postcards with Xs. Or if you don't have time to make anything, but want to help, you can donate. Money is always an option, but they also need red and/or white fabrics, batting, and red and white thread.

Finally, you could invite Jeanne to do a guest post on your blog, or speak to your guild. You can contact her here.

I think I have covered the subject. I hope I haven't been overbearing. For many reasons it is close to my heart, and this is just one of them. Ben is my youngest grandson, and he has a severe, intractable seizure disorder. Though he is 9, he appears about half that age, and has very little language, sign or verbal. He is so precious, and "Bapa" is his favorite person. What reason might you have for wanting to be involved?
Until next time, 
Janet O.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Pam's Heirloom quilt

If you are a follower of Pam Buda's blog ( you have already seen this outstanding heirloom she has created. This photo is from its unveiling in her booth at Quilt Market in Houston. Isn't it amazing?
This will be available to make in 2019 at quilt shops who sponsor the Circa 1880 club. In her post about this quilt here, she explained how she swapped blocks with friends to keep this scrappy and get it made by the deadline of Market. I was fortunate to be one of those who swapped blocks with those participating.

In this photo you can see the piles of 10 blocks on the design board to the left (300 blocks on that design board). In the middle are the baggies of blocks I received from others. And on the design boards piled to the right are pieces waiting to be sewn together to make another 120 blocks.
This is the kind of quilt I have always wanted to make, and this opportunity gave me the motivation I needed to keep making enough of those little blocks for a large quilt--hundreds and hundreds of those little blocks! There is a reason why I make mini quilts. I have a hard time staying focused on making the same little block over and over, but I proved to myself that I CAN do it! :)

My trusty featherweight has been the machine of choice for this project. Most of the blocks are made (there are about 75 left to stitch together), and now I am starting to assemble rows.
Here I am auditioning blocks to get a good balance of colors in a row.

I have 5 rows assembled and pinned to the edge of my design wall, where my half log cabin blocks are still residing. I hope to make more progress on this project when I go to my annual retreat in January. I actually made my first blocks for this quilt at retreat last January. This secret sewing has consumed much of my limited sewing time this year, and it is really fun to finally be able to share it with you!
If this quilt draws you in as much as it does me, check with your local quilt shop to see if they will be hosting the club.

Aside from that, since my last post I have been trying to get a few little quilt tops marked and basted.
They are starting to pile up again, and I do not want a repeat of 2016, where I had 30 little tops to quilt, and I added half again that many as the year wore on.
One of these will hopefully get quilted before the month is over to fill in as my Mini of the Month.  

We took a quick trip to Southern Utah last week to visit some friends, and attend a concert by The Piano Guys. On the way home I used my birthday month coupon at the little shop over the mountain (Village Dry Goods) to get 25% off of this lovely selection. 
Jo Morton's new Spice it Up line embodies the colors of Fall, to me. And I picked up a few of the new Primitive Gatherings Flower Garden line.
And look at this--one of the employees at the shop has made up Jen Kingwell's Long Time Gone quilt in Civil War repros. 
I have the pattern and when I finally get around to making it, I want to do something along these lines.
Until next time, 
Janet O.


Thursday, November 1, 2018

Sajou redo & October Mini

I know, I know--I was adamant that I was not going to remake my Sajou (again), even though I wasn't crazy about my finish. Well, I lied. The border was just too bland, and I loved the pieced border Lori had on hers. Just because I didn't use the round of the setting triangles, there was no reason why I couldn't do the final border.
I like this so much better. I guess the third time IS the charm. 

I did draw paper foundations and copy them onto newsprint to use for foundation piecing, making sure the borders would fit properly.


My October mini was finished just in the nick of time, but I was too tired to post it last night. This is the Jewel Box mini I made with leftovers from other projects.
It is posing with a jewelry box that my grandmother gave me for my birthday when I was a young teen. It still sits on my dresser. It has been decades since I wound the key and tried to get the music to play, so I did it today. I got a very slow, but perfectly in tune version of the love theme from Dr. Zhivago.

The day before Halloween I had been in my LQS and had picked up the last FQ of a very cute owl fabric. I didn't know what I would do with it, but it had to come home with me. So when it came to layering the Jewel Box mini for quilting, I decided that since it was my Oct. mini for Wendy's Mini a Month challenge, owls would be a fitting back. I felt like I was channeling my inner Barb (who is the queen of fun backings).

You can see I simply quilted (wobbly) diagonal lines. Aren't those owls great?

Color: Boysenberry--looks like plum to me
On a non-quilty note, my kitchen just received a new addition this week. I have been using my MIL's 25 year-old, refurbished, white KitchenAid stand mixer for about 3 years now. Seems almost every gluten free baking recipe I like calls for the use of a stand mixer, and I didn't have one. I had been a Bosch user all my life, but had to get rid of mine when I was diagnosed with celiac disease. The old KitchenAid still worked well, but I wanted larger bowl capacity. And if you are going to get a new one, why not get a fun color, right? This arrived yesterday. (You can see my distorted reflection in it as I take the photo.) It makes me smile whenever I see this on my counter.

And to break it in I made a batch of my new favorite gluten free muffin recipe from King Arthur Flour. They are a delicious gluten free pumpkin muffin that you can dress up in a variety of ways. I have made them with pecans or mini chocolate chips. These are the pecan version--so yummy! The grandkids prefer them with chocolate chips. I am just happy to have a great pumpkin muffin again. They are fluffy, moist and flavorful, and they taste good even several days after making them. That is rare for gluten free baked goods.

One final note--I have finally made and sent blocks to the 70273 Project, something I have been intending to do since I first read about it on Lori's blog over 2 years ago. 
It is very important, and deserves its own post (which it will get). In the meantime, click on the link above and see if you are inspired to participate.

Until next time,
Janet O.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Sajou revisited--and Massachusetts visited

I made part 1 of Lori's (Humblequilts blog) Sajou SAL before heading east. Upon my return I discovered that my center block would end up on point. Was planning on this being a wall hanging, not a table topper, so I needed to tweak it so Abe would be on the square. This is what came of my first efforts in my sewing room in two weeks. It finishes about 13 inches square. Still trying to decide if I should trim down that outer border to tone it down a bit more.
This was not my first attempt with Sajou. Initially I had tried to stay as true as possible to Lori's instructions of using the setting triangles, but then I had to add another set to get Abe hanging straight.

There was a lot of dead space with those large triangles, and the fabrics overpowered the finish, IMHO.
The outer dark blue edge is what I had chosen for binding, and I did stick with that. 

Our week in Massachusetts was for the purpose of our son and DIL's reception in her home stomping grounds. It was held at the Hancock Historic Shaker Village. It was colder than it looks!       

The reception was in one of the barns at the village. It was cold in there, too.
We finally got warmed up during the dancing that went on for over 2 1/2 hours after the meal. 

During the week we did some sightseeing, and looked for Fall color, which was elusive. Probably the best we saw was on a walk through a local cemetery. Most of the trees were still green wherever we went.

We visited the flower bridge, a covered bridge and the natural marble bridge, 
                                 Seems like we signed up for a bridge tour. :)

We really enjoyed the Norman Rockwell Museum.
I loved seeing this tender painting that includes a simple 9-patch.

In the museum entryway they have a large print of the painting of Christmas on Stockbridge's main street (Rockwell lived in Stockbridge). There are benches in front of the print, and we took some goofy photos there. It's a little blurry, but in this one 3 of my kids and I are replicating parts of Rockwell's "The Gossips".

It rained six out of the seven days we were there, but that didn't stop us.  In the town of Lee we had a great lunch at the Starving Artist Cafe, and then got drenched visiting several of the little shops. Water was flowing down the street and my pant legs were wet halfway to my knees.

In the antique mall across from the cafe I picked up this little Hummel figurine called "For Mother". When I saw it I thought of the little basket quilt I wrote about in my previous post. I mentioned the song with the line "Dear Mother, all flowers remind me of you."

 And when in New England, you must have seafood, right? Our son's in-laws were kind enough to have us over for a fresh lobster dinner, and hubby couldn't have been happier.

 Enough of the travelogue. We had a great time, and met wonderful people, but it is good to be home. Next post I hope to have more of a quilty nature to share. I didn't take a single stitch during the entire trip, even though I took handwork with me. And it was days after our return before I did more in my sewing room than just walk in and look around with longing.
Until next time,
Janet O.

This was the view on my evening walk. It was dusk, and that is the moon in the sky.