Thursday, April 26, 2018

Building a cabin or raising a barn?

Whichever it is, I am halfway through. When this photo was taken I still had 6 blocks to assemble to finish the row, and they are now completed. If you could see my design wall now, there wouldn't be that unfinished row at the bottom.
I am grateful that I had these logs on hand (sent from Karen @ log cabin quilter blog) so there was something I could sew while the rotary cutter was still off limits. It is exciting to be making good progress on a large quilt, even though I haven't felt like I can do all that much.
I decided to make it 12x14 blocks, and this marks the halfway point.

The other project that has received what little sewing time I have been able to scrounge is "Sophie", from Edyta Sitar's book "Little Handfuls of Scraps". This is my April mini for Wendy's mini-a-month SAL.
This was easy to put together using mini charm squares and leftover strips that I could trim with scissors. Even the binding strips were leftover from another little quilt.

After completing the stitch-in-the-ditch with my walking foot, I really wanted to hand quilt the diagonal lines, and even gave it a try. But I had not used a good scrap of batting for hand needling. After trying to pull the first few stitches through, I could tell it was stressing my shoulder, so I backed off and did it all by machine.

I have been playing with a new-to-me thread, thanks to a blog reader, Joyce L. She introduced me to DMC Machine Embroidery thread, which is recommended for miniature quilt making by mini quilt maker extraordinaire, Sally Collins. 
I only knew DMC for its embroidery floss, but was pleased to learn about this thread. It is 50 wt., 100% cotton, and comes in a wide variety of colors. It is very fine--even possibly a hair finer than 50 wt. Aurifil. This means it doesn't add bulk to seams (very important in mini quilts), and it looks more to scale when you machine quilt on mini quilts.
This zoomed-in photo shows it in comparison to the other two threads I use for most of my piecing and quilting.
I have done a lot of piecing with it, and a little bit of machine quilting, along with some binding. It works beautifully for piecing, as mentioned above. 
I had no trouble with the little bit of machine quilting I was able to do before my shoulder surgery, but since then I have only been able to quilt with my walking foot. I do like the way it seems to melt into the ditch when doing SITD on little quilts. Heavier thread stands out and looks clunky, but this thread rivals the Aurifil. Since I haven't done a lot of machine quilting with it, I have not been able to gauge how linty it is. Mettler fills the bobbin area of my quilting machine with lint, if I use it for very long. I never have that trouble with Aurifil. It remains to be seen where DMC will fall in that continuum.
The only negative experience I have had has been with binding by hand.
I did quite a bit of the machine quilting on this little quilt using the DMC thread, and it gave me no trouble. But when it came to the hand binding, the end of the thread really frayed as I stitched.
It surprised me, because I haven't had a cotton thread do this before. It seemed more a "poly" characteristic. But it wasn't a major concern, as the thread never actually broke.

However, as I did the hand binding on the little "Sophie" quilt, shown earlier in this post, the thread broke not very far into the stitching process, and the ends looked frayed, as above. It isn't a deal breaker for me. This thread is much more reasonably priced than the other two, and it is available in  some colors that the other two are not. It is another great tool in my quilting arsenal, and I will just not use it for hand binding anymore.

I will end with a couple of photos my oldest daughter sent us of their recent visit to a tulip farm in Oregon. Wish I could have been there.

Until next time, 
Janet O.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Critter sightings! (an animal heavy post)

Sasquatch was spotted hanging around our yard this weekend. Sightings for this handsome fella don't usually occur in the Rockies.
Pattern by Elizabeth Hartman

If you live near the Rockies, not to worry. He is now on his way to Oregon, where he belongs.
My thanks to my friend Jen Pate, for her beautiful quilting, and to my Mom, for the binding.

 I was in the sewing room for just a bit and got "Sophie" assembled. Since I couldn't square anything up with the rotary cutter, it turned out a tad wonky, but that makes it have more of that endearing "made by a child" doll quilt look (or so I am telling myself).
I'd like to hand quilt it, but it may be a while before I am up to that.


Friday I stopped in at a LQS on my way home from the doctor's office and I bought a FQ of this gorgeous Di Ford fabric. I don't recall seeing her fabrics locally before. Maybe I just haven't known where to look. But this is so pretty, I want to go back and buy more!
That is it for quilty content. Just haven't felt up to much.
So on to the critters.
You may recall once before, when I shared the meaning of babysitting on the family farm. It is that season once again--when the llama sits and the baby lambs climb upon it. The first shot is when the lambs realize the llama is available, and they come running. Then it is a scramble to be king of the hill (or llama).

Eventually the llama tires of the activity and stands up. The babies tumble off and the game is over.

Now, a little bird watching around the farm. All of these photos were taken out the windows of our home. Fuzzy photos=dirty windows. :)

Haven't caught any photos of Sandhill Cranes this year, but I will. Once, a few years ago, there was a White Egret across the road, but it flew away before I could get more than a blurry photo. I keep hoping I will see one again. They are so pretty!

Two updates: The winner of the Carol Hopkins book is Robin. I believe I still have your address on file, Robin, so I will send the book via media mail the next time I am in town. (You haven't moved recently, have you?) :)
And last of all, I have been released from the confines of the sling (WooHoo!!), but am still restricted as to activities. Hey, it is progress!

Until next time, 
Janet O.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Who knew log cabin blocks could be so fun?

Probably most of you were aware of that fact, but my log cabin block experience is limited. Prior to this week I had made two small log cabin quilts. One was made from 1" logs a friend gave me,
Blocks finish at 3 1/2".
and the other was an AAQI quilt (Alzheimer's Research fundraiser). I just realized that each of these was made using Kansas Troubles fabric, and I used the same setting on them. Time to break out of that rut.
I think this one was about 8" x 10".
Well, since my shoulder surgery last week, I have limited options--no rotary cutting, and probably best not to try pushing things under the needle that need to be very precise. That eliminates most of what I have going right now.
So I pulled out the makings for the half log cabin blocks that Karen had sent me way back when. I shared them a couple of posts back. I started sewing these on Wednesday, and I have added about 15 blocks to the stack. I can only sew 3 or 4 of them at a time, because my arm gets tired easily. But I have had fun playing with them on the design wall.

The possibilities are endless, but I have to admit that the traditional barn raising design always draws me in. It could end up being the option I use. It may not be very daring or creative, but at least it is different from my two previous efforts. :)

Another little project that only required a few scissor snips (my Mom's first quilt was a bed size log cabin made entirely with cardboard templates and scissors!!) was this sweet little doll quilt from Edyta Sitar's book "Little Handfuls of Scraps".

This book was a gift from two dear blog friends, and I have so many of these  quilts marked to make one day. 

The beauty of this little design is that the squares are 2 1/2" and I was able to pull them from a variety of mini charm packs. No cutting!! The sashing and cornerstones are made from 1 1/4" strips, and I just happen to have a BUNCH of those left from another project. Scissors worked just fine cutting those to size.
I may not get this sewn up quickly, but it makes me smile, and I am happy to have it ready to go.

Remember my "totality" block, commemorating the total eclipse? I have been wondering where to take it from here.

While sorting and straightening some fabric piles I came across a perfect fabric to use. Look at that--a whole bunch of eclipsed suns! Not sure yet how I will incorporate it, but I know that I will do it!

This is a 6" block, unfinished, and it is from the book Civil War Legacies II, by Carol Hopkins.

Another discovery I made while rummaging straightening in my sewing room was a second copy of this book. I know many of you already have it, but if you don't and are interested in it, leave a comment indicating that fact. I will draw a name before my next post and send it out media mail.

I need to get some shut-eye. I can hear the rain on the roof, and that is my favorite lullaby.

Until next time, 
Janet O.

p.s. Thanks to all who expressed concern and offered prayers for my surgery and recovery. I appreciate it very much. Torn biceps is repaired, bone spurs removed, scar tissue cleaned out, healing going well. :) 

Drawing Now Closed