Friday, March 31, 2023

Look at me, making big quilts!

Trying to get a second post in here before the month is over. 

First up is a quilt that was a new flimsy 10 years ago. This was my Barrister's SAL quilt, hosted by Randy at Barrister's Block blog. It is made entirely from men's thrift store shirts, right down to the binding, that I attached after taking this photo, but haven't stitched down yet.

Randy did photo tutorials for each block on her blog. I have a page under my header photo that includes links to all of the tutorials.

This was quilted by check, utilizing my usual machine quilter who only lives a couple of miles away, and does an incredible job. Below are two close-ups. It is a good thing my quilter likes to do sampler quilts, because there were 63 blocks in this quilt.

Aside from her talent in quilting, I really appreciate that she gets my style, and when I tell her what I think I want, she will share any ideas that come to her that she thinks might be an improvement, and together we make the final decision. I never pick up a finished quilt and find she didn't listen to what I wanted. 

Next up is the churn dash top--finally assembled, mostly. This is from Chooky's Churn Dash SAL last summer (well, summer here in the states).

The blue fabric pinned on the right is what I have chosen for the border, but I am waiting for DD#1 to indicate how large she needs this to be, so I know how wide to cut the borders. I really enjoyed making this quilt. It is fun to make blocks this size and build a quilt relatively quickly. And I still got to throw a few random 1" and 3" Churn Dash blocks in the centers.

Then we have a quilt for which I can take no credit. Well, okay--I chose the setting fabrics and layout, and sewed it all together. But all of the blocks were made by Karen B., formerly of Log Cabin Quilter blog.

I received a "care package" from her many years ago that contained fabrics and projects that had lost their appeal for her. The center block and four surrounding stars were from one project, and the 8 outer stars were from another. They all played together nicely, and the center of the quilt came together quickly. But I stalled a long time (years) on the borders. I finally took a trip over the mountain to my friend Fran, at her quilt shop (Village Dry Goods), and we narrowed it down to this subtle paisley from a Pam Buda line. I didn't want anything that would pull your eye away from the center, but also didn't want a solid. I stitched that border on the very next day. I think this one will be quilted by check as well. It is too small for a queen bed, but it will fit nicely on the full size bed in the loft spare room.

Are you ready for big quilt #4? I don't know if I am. Here goes. Chooky has invited those attending Scrub Stitchin' (and any who want to sew along at home) to spend some time making a Moda Love quilt--in any of the 3 size options in the free pattern found at the link here. There are three pages to the pattern, each page giving instructions to one size. This is what went up on my design wall when the previous quilt top was completed. I may mix up the colors a bit more. This was the first time I had actually seen them in the places I had imagined they should go.
The fabric in each corner is a KT Christmas print of holiday words. I felt like the holiday color scheme would work with it, but seeing it in the photo, I'm not so sure.
The floral fabrics were sent to me by a dear blog friend many years ago. They are from a Kansas Troubles line. I had waited to find a quilt pattern that would let them shine, but not just be made of large squares. When I saw a Moda Love quilt on Annie's blog back in 2017, it just spoke to me, and I printed her photo from her blog, writing notes all over it as to which fabric I wanted where. I pulled other matching fabrics from my KT stash, cut everything to size, and pinned them together in numbered groups. I even placed right sides together of the fabrics that would be making HSTs.  I packed all this in a tote and took it with me to two retreats in a row (2019 and 2020--just before COVID), without ever getting to it.
With Annie's permission, this photo below shows what was in my "kit", with her photo in the center, very marked up. 
That is why this is NOT a new start, so I didn't break my rule. 

However, this did break my rule--I signed up for Lori's doll quilt swap at Humble Quilts blog. This is the 10th year, and I have only ever signed up one other time, two years ago. Since I have been on my "No New Starts" program for 6 months, I figured I could treat myself to one little doll quilt. And I already have the top assembled. Here is a peek. ;)  Now you know exactly what it looks like, right?

Utah is experiencing the winter that keeps on giving. After years of mostly dry winters, with very little snow, we have been getting dumped on week after week. Every single week has at least a few days with snow (and now occasionally it is rain). We get most of our water in Utah from the snowpack that builds up in the mountains over the winter. With years of drought, our reservoirs are depleted. This winter we are breaking records for snowpack in much of the state (which also means there are flooding problems as that snow melts faster than it can be absorbed and contained). But it just seems insane after going weeks and sometimes months with barely measurable precipitation, to be waking up to new snowfall several times a week. It is snowing as I write, and is supposed to snow all night. The next three photos were all taken last week. (I think the poor birds have been confused, asking themselves if they flew too far north.)

I need someone to explain to me how the mountains are reflected in the flooded field, when the field is about 5 miles away from the mountain. Just puzzled by the science here.

This next photo was taken on my walk earlier this week. If you enlarge the photo and  look along the mountain ridge line, you can see a little glow. The wind is whipping up the loose snow at the top, and as the sun sets it highlights that flying snow. Under the right conditions, it looks like flames. I have posted some of those photos in the past.

Enough rambling.
I've enjoyed quality time in the sewing room lately, and it has felt really good. I hope you are finding time for things that bring you joy, without having to neglect the things that make you a responsible adult. 
Until next time, be creative, and be kind,
Janet O.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Working on 3 neglected projects

First up is a project I started back in October of 2015. Sure, I have UFOs that are much older than that, but the fact that I started this for a show being held in 2017, and it is still unfinished speaks volumes for how I feel about entering shows. Here, it is--my 2-color, mini Burgoyne Surrounded--frozen in time.

After completing my first mini Burgoyne Surrounded (seen below) I made the very uncharacteristic decision to enter a quilt show. Not with that quilt, but with one I was yet to make.
I was a member of our state quilt guild at the time and they had their Ruby Jubilee coming up in a couple of years. They were planning on a traveling Red/White quilt show around the state to celebrate the event. We were encouraged to make quilts to enter. There would be no judging--just voting by viewers on their favorites. Sounded non-threatening to me, and I decided I could make this a 9 block quilt (wasn't sure I could work with just 2 colors for more than that), and enter it in the "Mini" category of the show. I got busy on the quilt, but when the entry information became available, I saw that there was not a mini category. I had attended a few shows by the state guild in the past, and had seen a mini category, but apparently for this show they had decided to just lump everything together. For some reason that took the wind out of my sail and I never finished the quilt. And I have still never entered a show.

I have slowly worked on this now and then over the years, but it has been a while since I last pulled it out. I decided it is time to get this little quilt top finished. Using those pieces in the first photo, I completed all the 4-patch, 6-patch, and 9-patch units, and then did the critical sliver trimming that makes such a  difference in mini quilts. 

Next I sewed the pieces together by rows, and then sewed the rows together.
When sewn into a quilt, each block will finish at 3 3/4", and there are 97 pieces in each block. Crazy, huh? Seven of the 9 blocks are now completed, and the pieces for the other two blocks are laid out on design boards, and should be completed in the next few weeks.

The next neglected project is the labeling of my little quilts. Seven years ago I did a post about labeling quilts without labeling them. In that post I explained that I always attach a label to my quilts--I just don't always write on the label. At that time I bemoaned the fact that I'd had a stack of 45 little quilts that needed labeling. Well, it happened again.
Hubby took the photo of me above, left, while I was hard at work writing labels. On the right is the photo I took when I had completed the pile of almost 60 quilts this time around. I would go to my blog and work backward, writing dates and info on 4 or 5 quilts. Next I'd go back to the table, find those quilts, and fill in the labels.  Then the process would start again. I really hope to do better going forward, and finish the labels before I consider the quilt completed.

The third neglected project that has received my attention this month is my Churn Dash quilt for Chooky's SAL last year. The blocks finish at 9". A few of them have a 3" block in the center, and three of those have a 1" churn dash in the middle. I had all of the blocks made when they were supposed to be done, but I never made the deadline for the assembly of the top.
Still not there, but getting very close.
The empty space is the row of sashing I am currently sewing together. At the time of the photo the row above that space was not yet attached to the upper half (which is all sewn together). All the blocks below the blank space still need to be sewn into rows. Once this is all assembled I will be auditioning borders to make the quilt as large as desired. I am leaning toward a dark blue that would be similar to the sashing, but no decisions have been made.

It seems like most everyone I know is currently dealing with difficult, stressful things. You may be familiar with the following saying...
"When you meet someone, treat them as if they were in serious trouble, and you will be right more than half of the time."
I'm thinking we could be right almost all the time these days. I want to choose kindness, even when faced with the opposite treatment. Not easy--it has to be a very intentional choice, but I'm working on it.
Until next time,
Be creative and be kind.
Janet O.

We have had such a snowy winter, and have more in the forecast next week. I like winter--and I don't even ski, but I also don't have to shovel the snow. I used to enjoy shoveling, but shoulder and back trouble have made it off limits for about 6 years now. I can still enjoy the views of the snowy countryside and mountains. The dirt road along the edge of the family farm gives some great vistas on my evening walk.
This is looking east--the sunset is behind me, but the glow reflects onto the tops of the mountains across the valley.

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Dumping all of February on you

 Sorry I have been absent for the month. It has been a pretty intense month for me. I will start with the completion of Sea Glass and Sand. 

It felt so good to get this finished. I took it around for some glamor shots, but didn't love any of them. Then I had the silly idea to introduce Sea Glass and Sand to snow. We have been having more than our fair share of it this winter. The introduction was a little shaky, but everyone played nicely. 

The blocks in this quilt finish at 2" square, and the whole quilt is a measly 8 1/2".

I made this quilt as the project I would be teaching at a local guild. Now I needed to write the pattern. During the process I discovered that I don't like pattern writing. :) I had to keep making the blocks over and over again to make sure I was assembling in the correct order, and that I had seams going the best way for ease of assembly--even though I had taken notes as I made the quilt, so I thought I had all the info I needed. I always second guess myself.

And then I had to make more blocks in order to create the story boards of the process for each of the two blocks in the quilt.

At one point I was so tired of stopping to cut more parts to make another attempt at the block, I just grabbed some HSTs that were on the cutting table without worrying about their size. It was the process I was trying to figure out. When I finished it I realized I had just made a basket that would finish at 1 1/2". It made the 2" finished blocks in my quilt seem large (well, at least bigger).

The class for the guild was held today (Feb. 28th). It was a blustery day, and with the recent snowfalls and more snow overnight, out in farm country where I live, the fresh snow was blowing off the fields and over the roads, causing near white-out conditions. I wondered if they would cancel class, but apparently quilters are hardier than that. As I headed out, the winds were whipping again and a couple of times I just had to pray that I was still driving on the road, because I couldn't really see it. 

Out of the 23 signed up for class, I think 18 of them made it there. I was amazed. If I hadn't been teaching the class, I would have opted not to go out in that weather. But we had a great group of ladies there, and I was happy to be able to share my experience and recommendations for small-scale piecing. I forgot about taking photos until after a couple of them had already had to leave, but this gives you an idea of the action.

They meet in a large room in the city building of a community several miles northeast of where I live. Plenty of space and lots of light.   Below is a better look at the display.

Thank you Needles and Friends Quilt Guild for inviting me to share with you. It was a delightful morning (once I got out of the blowing snow). :)

I wanted to share this block with you. For the "block jack" in my guild this month we had the spool block. I love the way the thread on the spool is pieced. I had so much fun making these, I made four of them.

This is a block I may want to make more of someday (when I can start something new again--if that day ever comes).

We have been having a lot of these kinds of days this winter--cold and grey with lots of big, fat flakes falling and piling up.

On the left is my in-laws home where my son and his wife now reside. It is across a small pasture, but I zoomed in a bit to see the flakes better. You can enlarge this (or any photos in the post) for a better look. On the right is the view of the farmyard from my sewing room window. In the midst of all this dreariness, this is what keeps me smiling--a little bit of summer, indoors.

And once the storm passes outside, it is a bright, crisp, and frosty world. Below is the view from the front of the house--looking east.

And next is the view from the "bee garden" next to our home--looking west.

I hope you can find beauty in your surroundings, and create beauty in your sewing space.
Until next time, be creative and be kind.
Janet O.

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Just a Few Little Things

So much for being a better blogger in the new year! Oh, well--I still have hopes to improve.                       
I have just been sewing tiny things this month. Every block in this post finishes at 2"! This is the one that looks the most complete, though it is just a flimsy. I'm thinking I'll call it Sea Glass and Sand.

Sometime early last year I agreed to teach a class for a local guild, and we set it for February of this year. That gave me lots of time to get the pattern and samples ready. You know how that goes--in your mind you think you have plenty of time, so you push it off until you realize there isn't that much time left. And what time is left is called "Crunch Time"!

Here it is again with the inspiration piece I did a few years ago with some blog friends. It was our Indigo Challenge, issued by Sandy at My Material Creations blog. I had already written up patterns for the blocks in this piece, and used them to create the new piece that is a little smaller.
I am rewriting the patterns to be a little more user friendly for people who may not be used to making 2" blocks. When I wrote up the original patterns they were directed to a group already sewing 2" blocks by the boatload.

In my own guild I am still teaching the Tiny Blocks designed by Lynn Hopkins (patterns and specialty rulers available through Fran at Village Dry Goods). We tackle two blocks each month. These were the story boards for the construction process this month.

The one on the left shows a few different cutting technique options for a rather easy block. The one on the right shows a step-by-step way to make those tiny flying geese (finishing at 1/2" x 1") used in making the star, very accurate.

The other little thing is that I finally got the last four ornaments finished that I was making from my Dad's plaid shirts. The year after he passed I made five of these for my Mom and two of these for each of my siblings as their birthdays rolled around. And then that Christmas I made two for each of my daughters. But I never made them for my sons--until 5 years later!                                      With the border, these ornaments finish at 2 1/2" inches--the pineapple itself is 2". Now that I am finished with Dad's, I need to start making them for the family out of the scraps from Mom's quilts. She didn't really wear cotton clothing that would work well, so I decided her quilt scraps would be the best option.

I also spent a little time with Chooky and the Chookshed Stitchers on Friday. Even though I wasn't there long, any time spent with them is always a delight.

Now I have a confession to make--don't laugh. I bought ANOTHER nativity. I just should not go in that bookstore after Christmas. I went in to buy something my daughter asked me to send her, and the nativities were 75% off. I was just going to look and not buy, but when I saw one of the ones that I had admired before Christmas was still there--and it was the LAST one (the display model)--I had to check out the price. How can you argue with $17 dollars (it was originally almost $75)??

The lighting in this photo doesn't do it justice. It is made of Springstone, and comes from Zimbabwe. I don't know anyone who has been to Zimbabwe, but I'm sure I can find somebody. :)

I was trying to get this post finished before midnight Saturday, but it is a few minutes after now, and I need to be up early for choir practice. I'd better close, and wish you a good Sabbath.
Until next time,
Be creative and be kind!
Janet O.

Had to include a sunset from Tuesday evening, when I drove a mile down the road to visit a friend. It looked like the sun was trying to burn through the clouds that shrouded the mountaintops.

Monday, January 2, 2023

The Last Monthly Mini--and a hodge-podge

This mini post is different in a few ways. It isn't your typical mini, it is the last one for 2022 (landing in 2023), and it is the last official monthly mini with our fearless leader, Wendy (Constant Quilter blog). Thank you Wendy for the five fun-filled years of monthly merry-making with minis (oh, I love that I got two alliterations in one sentence). :) Check out Wendy's blog for the last round of links to the monthly mini makers.

This is what will have to count as my December mini. The four blocks that make up the Bear's Paw on the pocket each finish at 2".

Based on a pattern from The Inspired Wren, I adapted it in a couple of ways. It is a nice tote, on the smaller size. Following the pattern makes a 9.5" x 12" tote that is 2" deep. I had to make mine a tad smaller to accommodate the fabrics I had that would match the pocket I had already made. That was my other adaptation--pockets.

This pattern did not include pockets. I added one outer (the Bear's Paw block), and one inner. Before sewing side seams, I attached the outside pocket on one end, and the inner pocket on the other, as shown below.

Other than those two items, I followed the pattern as written. It is well written and easy to follow.It does call for fusible interfacing, and it was a miracle that there happened to be enough of it on hand, since I haven't used the stuff for about a decade!

The inside is finished off nicely with French seams, so there are no raw edges exposed. I like that.

This was my contribution to my guild's Christmas gift swap. We were each to make a bag of some sort and we could choose to fill it with goodies or not. I threw in some of my soap, a bag of treats, and a mini Dresden Plate pattern and template. 
I hope the new owner likes it.

My guild gobbled up what little sewing time I could scrape together in December. Along with making the bag for the guild swap, the Bear's Paw blocks on the pocket were part of the assignment I have in guild this year to teach those who want to continue making Lynn's "Tiny Club" blocks, even though he is currently serving as a missionary elsewhere. 

I try to cover two blocks each month--an easier one and one more complex block. Lynn used to make very detailed individual "storyboards" for each step in the process of making a block. I can't go into that much detail, but I have been doing something like these for each block.

On the complex blocks I do a more detailed step-by-step progression from cutting the pieces, to the finished block, like you see on the left. On the right is a simpler block, where I just show a couple of method options, and then the final step to the finished block. Each board reads left to right, top to bottom.

The week before Christmas we made a very spur-of-the-moment decision to attend a Mannheim Steamroller concert. This music became popular when we were young marrieds (a lifetime ago), and as our children grew I think all four of them played at least one Mannheim Steamroller Christmas song for a piano recital.

It was a fun experience, even though I look like a deer in the headlights in the photo.                                                                                                                          
And I have a small confession to make after my last post about my collection of International Nativities. The store where I have purchased about a dozen of those nativities has a clearance on many of them after the holiday. Though I can't recall now why I had a need to drop in the day after Christmas (smirk), I walked out with two more little Nativities--and I already had one from each of the countries. I think I need an intervention.

We woke up to this on New Year's Day. The snow continued to fall all day. It wasn't heavy snowfall, but it was heavy snow, if that makes sense. 
Utah is known for its dry powder snow, great for skiing. But this was very wet, heavy snow, and though it is good for the snowpack in the mountains to fill our reservoirs in the spring, it is miserable stuff if you have to shovel it. We probably had about 10-12 inches by nightfall. Some parts of the valley had a little less, and some had a little more. The fact that our state has been in severe drought conditions for some time now means this is a welcome sight, no matter how miserable it is for driving, or how backbreaking it is to shovel.

I look forward to a new year of being more intentional, more thoughtful, more compassionate, and more creative. Wishing you all a. bright new year!
Until next time, 
Janet O.

Whoops, forgot to ask--if any of you follow via bloglovin' and you are reading this, can you tell me if bloglovin has been giving you trouble? My last post never showed up there in my feed--just a picture of a soccer player with a quotation, but it said it was a post from rogue quilter. I did a Google search and saw a lot of complaints. Should I offer Feedly instead?