Sunday, December 29, 2013

Celtic Solstice Part 5

I had to laugh a little when I saw the instructions for Step 5 indicating we needed to use the  "leftover" pieces from Step 3.  I suppose that might work of I had actually completed Step 3!  Nonetheless, I managed to finish 48 of these over the weekend.

I keep thinking about Edyta Sitar's advice to always do all of one step in a project before moving to the next - she believes the repetition creates muscle memory and helps to minimize mistakes while improving accuracy. I almost feel guilty jumping around from step to step but it certainly keeps me interested!  I made a little progress on pinwheels and four patches and sewed quite a few more HSTs.  I am starting to worry about running out of mauve/pink so I figured I had better start working in some of the brighter, pinker fabrics. There is definitely a lot of pink in this quilt!

So here is where I stand as of this evening:

Step 1 - complete
Step 2 - 13 of 244 completed
Step 3 - 22 of 61 pinwheels completed
Step 4 - 158 of 400 completed
Step 5 - 48 of 244 completed 

I have such a long way to go!  I haven't been trying to solve the mystery and haven't paid close attention to those who have, but I have to believe we are getting close to beginning the assembly.  This thing has a lot of pieces!

Check out Bonnie's Mystery Monday Link-Up to see how others are progressing on their projects. I am really loving all the color variations!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Too Much Pink!

I had a brief moment of panic this weekend when I realized that I had mixed up my color substitutions from the very beginning.  I thought I was so careful - I even made a point of crossing out Bonnie's colors in her instructions and writing in my own rather than working from memory. It would have worked had I actually written the right color down!  I somehow confused the mauve and brown - I intended to use mauve for yellow and brown for orange but was wrong right out of the gate...I used mauve in my tri-recs pieces. Thankfully I didn't read all that closely and accidentally got my chevrons right. The mix-up did impact my pinwheels, but thankfully I had only sewn one together so far and I caught the mistake before cutting for step 4 so there wasn't much harm done. I am a little bummed that the quilt will now have twice as much pink in it as I intended, but better to live with that than to redo all those tri-recs blocks!

I managed to get 120 four patches sewn over the weekend.

Funny that we consider a step that involves sewing 1200 pieces of fabric together to be "easy"!  I am hoping to have time to finish the other 180 before Friday...and then to go back to steps 2 and 3.  I'm looking forward to the reveal, but hope it doesn't come too soon.  I have so much catching up to do!

Check out this week's Link-Up to see how everyone else is coming along on their CS projects. The colors are fabulous!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Triangle Troubles

I had big plans for getting a lot of sewing done last week but Christmas shopping and a quick trip to New York got in the way.  I braved the cold on Thursday evening to make my annual trek to Rockefeller Center for a picture of the tree. It was much colder than it has been the last few years!

I am very happy to report that I did manage to finish step one of Celtic Solstice over the weekend.

I had serious issues with counting when I cut these. I was happily sewing my way through the remaining neutral/purple blocks when I realized I was running out of purple pieces. I was pretty sure that after the initial cutting snafu I had finally cut enough of the purple, so I decided I had better count the neutrals. Turns out I had cut about two dozen extra "tri" pieces!  How does that happen??  Luckily I caught the mistake before any ripping was required!

I started on my half-square triangles for step 3.  I decided to try Bonnie's method using the Easy Angle ruler.  It was very frustrating at first - I kept cutting the pieces too small.  After screwing up three or four I realized that the markings on the Easy Angle ruler are very confusing.  Maybe it's just me - but to me it looks like the 2" marks are the horizontal and vertical lines that intersect with the number "2", not the line above the "2". The ruler in Bonnie's pictures has dotted lines rather than solid for those "in between" markings.  I think that would make the cutting a lot easier.

I finally managed to cut a few correctly.

I finished one pinwheel (yep, 1 down, 60 more to go!)

I decided to put away the sewing in favor of getting the Christmas tree up yesterday afternoon.  My oldest daughter and I came up with the slightly hair-brained idea of getting a live tree this year.  They always look a lot smaller when they are in the tree lot!  It seemed a lot larger (and heavier!) when we got it home. We somehow managed to get the thing set up and decorated.  Ace found the entire process very interesting - he even posed for a holiday picture!

Visit Bonnie's website to see the fabulous progress others are making on their projects - most are much farther along than me!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Fun with Chevrons!

This week's mystery fun began with the arrival of supplemental fabrics from one of my very favorite shops - Batik's Plus. It is always hard to get an exact read on colors when shopping online, but I think everything will work.  A couple of the mauve fabrics are a little closer to pink but they seem to blend pretty well with the others.

The past week has been a bit busy with quite a few early Christmas festivities, so I didn't get as far as I had hoped.  I did manage to finish the part of step one I had cut (half of the units for the king). I was anxious to see how the chevrons would look so I decided to try a few before finishing off step one.  

I didn't get very far - only four complete chevrons and a half dozen parts sewn - but I love them!  I am really enjoying these colors!  I started out marking lines on the back of the 2" squares (definitely not one of my favorite tasks!) but then was reminded of the technique of using a line in front of the needle by one of the many wonderful quilters in the CS Facebook group. I have a template-thingy that is intended for that purpose somewhere in my sewing room but of course couldn't find it, so I opted instead for a piece of tape. I'm so thankful for the suggestion - it is much faster and easier than marking!  I will be using this method to finish the rest...all 244 of them!

Be sure to visit Bonnie's page to see how the rest of the "Bonniacs" are progressing!

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Mystery Begins...

It's that time of year again - Bonnie Hunter released the first clue for this year's mystery quilt on Friday!  It took me a while to decide on fabrics this year.  I didn't really have the colors Bonnie is using in my stash so I had to come up with another combination that would work. After trying numerous combinations, I found inspiration in a fat quarter bundle that was given to me by a friend a couple of years ago. I had quite a bit of these colors in my stash, including more than 5 yards of a batik to use for background. I had to order a couple of yards to supplement the mauve colorway - my stash is a bit short on anything that vaguely resembles pink - but I was able to cover the rest (about 18 yards). Probably a good thing since these colors don't seem to be "in" these days!

I spent Black Friday working on wool applique at Nola's, so I didn't get started on cutting for the first clue until Saturday.  Nola's BF event was wonderful!  She helped me come up with a color plan for the new pattern I picked up from Anita.  I am going with a deep red background - I can't wait to get started on it!

I finished my cutting by Saturday afternoon and then sat down to start sewing.  I didn't get very far on Saturday - had to take a break to do a little Christmas shopping - but all was going well.  My finished blocks measured 3.5" square - whew! 

I resumed my position at the sewing machine on Sunday, determined to finish step one.  I felt like I was making fantastic progress when it suddenly occurred to me that the purple "recs" pieces seemed to be disappearing much more rapidly than the mauve and background "tri" counterparts. A quick mental review of my cutting math revealed that I omitted the fact that I needed two "recs" per "tri" in my calculation. Argh!  So I now need to cut 95 more pairs of purple pieces.I decided to save that fun for later in the week and just kept sewing.  I didn't get nearly as far as I hoped, but I made a lot of progress.

Rather than returning to the sewing room after dinner last night, I decided to spend a little more time on my Vines & Flowers rug that I started a couple of weeks ago with Anita White. The background did prove to be a bit of a challenge in color planning, but I am really liking the way it is turning out.  It is actually kind of nice to have a background to hook after spending a year and a half on a geometric!

It's such a bummer to have to return to work this week!  I would love to get back to the sewing room to finish up step one...I hate when I fall behind from the very beginning! 

Be sure to check Bonnie's page to see how everyone else is progressing on week one of the Celtic Solstice project!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

November Fun

I am looking forward to taking a few days off to have some fun this month.  This week's fun begins with Suzanne Louth speaking at our quilt guild Tuesday evening and leading a broderie perse workshop on Wednesday.  I am looking forward to learning her techniques to help me along with my Rising Sun project.  I have never used the technique in a project before.

Speaking of Rising Sun, I finally landed on a color plan that I am happy with.  It includes a little more red and a few less fabrics than originally planned, but it lightens up the rows next to the points (not as light as the original, but as light as I want to go).  I started drawing my stitching lines on the diamonds today - which is much more difficult than drawing first and cutting after, I must say - and hope to start stitching in the next week or so.

Friday through Sunday I will be taking a workshop with Anita White.  I am starting a new rug and am very excited about hooking something other than triangles!  I am doing a pattern by Susan Quicksall called "Vines & Flowers".  Here is the version she has posted on her website:

I plan to use a soft teal for my background.  I think it will make the choices for leaves and flowers very interesting.  I am really looking forward to it!

Next week's fun includes Wool Applique at Nola's - the project is so cute this month that I couldn't resist getting a kit - and a couple of "sew-in" days with my TAS group.  I am really looking forward to a few short work weeks and lots of sewing and hooking!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Projects New & Old

PIt's been so long since I have posted that I actually have progress to report!  I finished assembling this top last weekend.  Leaving it out on my sewing table definitely paid off!  This is the first quilt I have made with an appliquéd border (or at least the first one where I have actually made it to the border!).  I had to lay out 430 inches of vine without anything to go by other than the picture on th pattern cover.  It was tough!  It took much longer than I expected.  I still have a long way to go - hundreds of leaves and berries - but I was happy to get this far.

A close-up of the appliqué:

Speaking of projects I am finally making progress on, the giant rug is finally hooked!  I finished booking it and steamed it last night. The binding is going to take some time - this thing is 40"x54" - but it is great to have it off the frame!


Last but not least, I've been trying to choose fabrics for a quilt reproduction project I am doing with a group of folks led by Rita Verroca.  

I found a couple of the fabrics in a bundle of fat eighths so I had to go on an internet hunt to find more.  I have only found one batik that works so far.  I would like to have three or four in my star.  I've ordered a couple on the internet - I'm hoping they will work.  Too bad we don't have shops like Homestead Hearth or Quilted Moose in our area!  

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Hookin' in Warsaw

I had an absolutely wonderful time attending a hook-in in Warsaw, MO last Saturday. The venue was outstanding! Even though the room is technically a gym, the stone walls and beautiful view of the river made it feel really cozy.

The vendors were great.  I found plenty of things I had to have...including some new punch needle patterns (like I really need another hobby!).

There were quite a few rugs in the show. Below are some of my favorites.

The one on the bottom of the photo above was hooked by a beginner.  I love the colors!  And then there was this one:

It was absolutely drop-dead gorgeous! Not surprisingly, it won first place.  I need to make one of these!  Not necessarily the same pattern, but same idea (album quilt).

After the hook-in we stopped by the open house at Saltbox Primitive Woolens.  What a wonderful shop!

I found the perfect wool for the border of my Kaleidoscope rug (which still isn't finished, by the way).

I am currently at Eugene Mahoney State Park attending the Baltimore on the Prairie Appliqué Conference.  We arrived late this afternoon but managed to slip in a quick visit to the Country Sampler quilt shop just before closing time.

I'm off to a one-day class with Jeanne Sullivan  tomorrow.  We hope to squeeze in another quilt shop visit at lunch time.  I am looking forward to an exciting week!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What Happened to Summer?

I can't believe that school has started and that Labor Day is a little over a week away!  We have had the most wonderful San Diego-style weather here this summer - I guess time flies even faster when the days are sunny and gorgeous rather than oppressively humid and unbearably hot!

I have been busy shopping, cooking and packing for my girls as they head off to college, but I did manage to squeeze in little mini-retreat at the lake. I only took hand work, so I don't have a lot to show for my time, but I did manage to finish another star.

I think this one may be my favorite so far.  The colors are a little off in the photo - it's actually more blue.  I love the fabric.

I've managed to slip in a little time at my sewing machine over the past few weeks, too.  I decided to leave a project out on the table and just do a few minutes here and there as time allowed.  I've managed to progress from this:

to this:

In just a few short sessions.  I want to get this one assed because this pattern has an appliqué border.  I've always wanted to do an appliqué border and this one is fairly reasonable.

I still plugging along on the rug.  I really wanted to have it finished by now, but just can't seem to find the time or the motivation to keep it going!  It is getting closer...  

Maybe I can shoot for Labor Day?

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A Year of Stars

Yesterday was the 13th and final meeting of my hand piecing class. I only managed to do finish one of my 12" blocks this month. I had really planned on setting the project aside for a while now that the class has ended, but after pressing my latest block this morning I decided to lay them all out to see how far I've come.

While I still have quite a bit to do - 6 of the 12" blocks and 7 of the small stars - I'm amazed and excited by how much I have actually finished. My appliqué and hexies may have to sit on the back burner a little longer!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Obsessed with Handwork

I can't believe that it has been over a month since I last posted!  I feel like I am pedaling as fast as I can but still losing the race these days...  Things are starting to slow down a bit now, so hopefully I will be able to keep up with my projects and posts for at least a while. 

I am still working on the Lemoyne Stars and actually managed to finish both of my 12" blocks last month thanks to a couple of really long travel days to and from Germany.

I'm working on the 12th block now.  Our last meeting is Aug 3rd.  I'm pretty sure that I won't have my homework finished this time around, but I have kept up fairly well and only have about 5 more 12" blocks to finish (and several 6" blocks...I lost count on those).  I just hope I can motivate myself to stick with them after the classes end.  I think I will be really happy with the quilt when finished.  I am really in love with the colors.

I spent the weekend trying to catch up on prepping my Summer BOW and Summer Freebie blocks.  Week 7 arrived last week.  I am completely caught up on the prep work and have finished stitching two of the freebie blocks and am almost finished with the third BOW block.  At this point my goal is just to keep up with the prep...I will eventually get to the stitching.  I really need to figure out what I am going to do with the words.  I have decided to embroider them, but I need to decide on a font.


I am looking forward to wrapping up my LeMoyne stars (or the class, at least) so that I can get back to my hexies.  I am obsessed with English Paper Piecing right now and can't wait to have time to do some!  Chris Moline visited our guild in July and I had an opportunity to take an EPP class from her. I am fascinated by how many variations there are on the EPP technique.  In any event, one of the shapes she gave us to try was a clamshell.  I loved it!  I would really love to do a clamshell quilt one of these days. She also showed a quilt in her trunk show that is perfect for EPP.  I love the indigo - I really would love to make this one too!

Chris has an absolutely amazing quilt collection!  Her trunk show was wonderful.  I found several quilts I would love to make (all handwork, of course...I'm going to have to live to 200 to work all of these in!)

And then there are my rugs....I have so many rugs started and now I've signed up for another class this year!  I am on a mission to get my kaleidoscopes finished in two weeks.  It's an aggressive goal, but I am getting close.

I have one more row along the top and one column on the side plus most of the little corners to do.  And the border. A lot of hooking, but I am on a mission!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Sweltering at the Lake

I had big plans for a relaxing day sewing and/or hooking at the lake today.  I originally blocked the day as vacation so that I could take a workshop with my quilt guild but decided I would rather use the day to take care of a couple of things on the "to do" list and then just kick back and relax.  The day got off to a good start - I drove to Rolla in the morning and picked up the keys and completed the check-in inspection for my daughter's apartment and was back on the road on my way to the lake by 10 am. I got to Osage Beach just in time for lunch at one of my most favorite restaurants, On the Rise, and thoroughly enjoyed one of my very favorite meals...their Monte Christo. I then headed to the house to play - or so I thought - only to find that the air conditioner (which is only 4 years old) would not turn on.  And yes, it would just happen to be the hottest day of the year so far.  It was 95 F in the house most of the day.  And of course any service people available until Friday.  By the time I finally had a service appointment scheduled I was too hot and irritated to do much of anything.  So much for kicking back to relax!  It's still over 90 F in here at 8:30 pm.  I'm just hoping it cools off enough for me to get a decent night's sleep.

I did muster the energy to finish block one of the 2013 summer BOW.  It's called "Words to Live By" and is supposed to have a word inked on it but I haven't worked up the nerve to do that yet.  I'm not at all big on writing on fabric.  It never works out for me.

Pardon the way I was heating up an iron in this sauna!  Block two probably arrived in the mailbox today.  I will have to get it prepped when I get home Friday - I'm going to do my best to keep up this summer!

And now for a couple of pictures of quilts from the show.  I completed the "carnival" quilt (pattern by Gudrun Erla) at one of our sleep in your own bed retreats. Shelly McClymont did a wonderful job quilting it.

And this is the quilt that I was lucky enough to win from my TAS group.  The quilt is called "An Applique Welcome" and is composed of blocks made by 17 members of our local TAS chapter. Jane Hair outdid herself with the quilting - it is gorgeous.  I was the luck winner of this beauty!  We had agreed when we came up with the idea to make the quilt that the winner would exhibit it in the quilt show. Not only did we win first place in our category, we were told by an NQA judge that visited the show that she would have chosen it as best of show!  I am so thrilled to be the lucky owner of this work of art that represents so many of my wonderful friends!

My Lisa's Garden quilt didn't end up hanging quite as smoothly as I would like - I should have taken more time to block it before finishing, but I was rushing.  I am going to try to correct the problem and will hopefully have a nice flat picture of the quilt to share soon.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Finishing Stuff is for the Birds!

It's been such a long time since I have posted!  Life has been crazy busy the past few weeks. Looking back at the end of April, I had a wonderful time at the AQS show in Paducah. I was a bit disappointed in how the show seems to be shrinking - while still a fantastic show, the number of vendors has clearly decreased due to the addition of all the new shows. I think the quality of quilts in the show will likely start to suffer, too.  It's nice that having all of these new shows allows more people to attend, I think it really detracts from what has been truly special about Paducah and Houston.

I was fortunate to be able to get into one of Edyta Sitar's classes while in Paducah.  She is absolutely fantastic!  She is an incredible teacher and is super sweet and extremely funny.  The class was definitely the highlight of the week for me.  Below is a picture of her explaining our lollipop kits.  She was so concerned about students not being able to get very far in a three hour class that she cut out a complete block for each of us. All we had to do was start sewing!

Edyta had lots of great tips to share with us.  Here she shows how half of a Dresden plate can be combined with applique to make a gorgeous flower block.  Wouldn't that be a beautiful quilt?

After Paducah was Hook-in St.Louis.  I managed to avoid getting into trouble there, although I did fall in love with a foot stool that I would love to make. The only problem is that it is HUGE!  Lots and lots of hooking.  I haven't committed to that one just yet...

Since returning from my travels I have been working frantically to finish things for the show. I should have some pictures to post next week - better to take them when the quilts are hanging.  I finished binding my TAS pineapple quilt (I can't wait to share a picture of that one!) and my little wool applique quilt (Lisa's Garden).  I put a sleeve on my Runaway Mystery quilt (that stinker is 100" square!) and have nearly finished binding (about 7" to go) my Carnival quilt.  I am hoping to finish that binding and get that sleeve on tonight.  I want to go back to not finishing things - the binding is killing me!  My hands are aching and my brain is numb.  I can't wait to sew something other than binding and sleeves!

I did manage to finish one of my homework blocks this month.  Unfortunately it was only one...I'm falling farther behind each month.

Last, but certainly not least on my list of accomplishments over the past month is my daughter's graduation.  I'm sure she doesn't consider this to be my accomplishment, but anyone who has lived through teenage daughters know exactly what I'm talking about! She's the one smiling at the camera...I've cropped and zoomed so much that she's a bit blurry...but she ran to the back and turned in her sashes before I could get any other pictures proving she was summa cum laude!

I'll be back next week with pictures of finished quilts.  So excited to mark a couple off of my list!

Monday, April 15, 2013

It's a Wonder I Ever Finish Anything!

The weather was beautiful yesterday - a perfect day for sitting out on the deck at the lake. My dogwood isn't even close to being ready to bloom but the redbud is in full bloom and the sun was shining. 

I have been trying to work on my Kaleidoscope rug a little every day with a goal of completing it before my workshop with Sally Kallin in June. I worked on it a bit at Wool Club on Saturday and spent yesterday afternoon hooking out on the deck. I've managed to make a little progress.

I'm about half way finished so there is still a lot of work to do, but it does go pretty quickly.

A lot of the folks were crocheting at Wool Club on Saturday.  They were working on scarves and tote bags from the new Crochet Noro book.  I had planned to resist the temptation to dabble in yet another hobby (although I used to crochet, I haven't done it in 20 years), but I caved... I stopped at Knitorious (a wonderful yarn shop in St. Louis) when I left Nola's and picked up the book and some yarn.  So instead of working on my hand piecing homework last night like I should have, I crocheted this little bowl:

I have absolutely no idea what I will do with it, but it turned out really cute and was lots of fun to make.  I just may have to make another....

And speaking of things that distract me from what I should be working on, I started one of my new wool applique projects last weekend.  I managed to finish the first block:

These blocks are really small and go pretty quickly.  I would love to prep another one to work on but really need to focus on the things that I've committed to getting done, including binding my TAS quilt (I will post a photo and tell a little more about that one once the binding is on) and putting a sleeve on my Runaway quilt.  If by chance my quilters come through on the two quilts I dropped off last weekend I am going to have a LOT of work to do in May!

Monday, March 25, 2013

It Just Doesn't Get Any Better!

The trip to Kansas City was absolutely wonderful.  It wasn't nearly long enough - although it was really quite fortunate that we beat the weather, being stranded there another day or two wouldn't have upset me at all!  We began our visit to the KC area with lunch at the Salty Iguana.  My chimichanga with lizard sauce was absolutely delicious!  We then  headed over to Quilter's Station (quite possibly the best quilt shop in the country...maybe even the world!) to burn off lunch through power shopping.

Quilter's Station has an unbelievable selection of threads, embroidery flosses and pearl cottons. I didn't realize that they carry Simple Arts floss and wool threads (the brand Sue Spargo uses). Unfortunately I didn't have my lists with me so I couldn't really supplement my collection.


They have tons of fabric and fantastic samples to inspire!

I was so inspired that I picked up kits for two new wool applique quilts (crazy, I know).  I actually have both patterns but absolutely loved the colors they had done them in.  Here's what they will look like if I ever get them finished:

And that was just the first afternoon!  We headed to Janice's after dinner.  Her shop is beautiful. It's what I dream of for my own sewing/hooking room.

Can you believe all that wool?!?  It's amazing.  I managed to fall  in love with a huge new pattern Thursday night.  Although I tried to talk myself out of it, I ended up color-planning it on Friday.  I am really excited about the pattern and the colors we selected.  I resisted the urge to start it, though - I stuck to my kaleidoscope and, after hooking one square three times, finally landed on colors that will work.

The group we hooked with was lots of fun and the food was plentiful and delicious as always. The time flew by and the retreat was over way too soon. We are already thinking about going back.  It can't be soon enough for me!