Tuesday, December 27, 2016

En Provence Week Five

I'm a little late with this post - I've been too busy celebrating the holidays and enjoying the heck out of being off work for a week!  I actually had this week's step finished Friday night. I was surprised to see purple again!  When are we going to use those greens and yellows? I am thinking this week's step is going to require a lot of effort considering it in theory will consume 3.5 yards of fabric (assuming green and yellow are the only colors we use). I am looking forward to seeing the reveal.

I couldn't resist including a picture that my daughter took of my little guy at the vet last week. He's been having trouble with one of his back legs so we had him checked out. We learned that the poor little guy has a dislocated patella. It's seriously dislocated - all the way over on the side of his knee! The doctor said we could have it repaired surgically but that it would be pretty tough on him at this age (he's nearly 11) so pain management might be the better option. He seems to be handling it pretty well with only occasional pain so we will have to wait and see if it gets any worse.

Back to sewing... I have been working on my Magic of Christmas blocks and finished two each of two more. I still have quite a few more to finish.  They are pretty tedious with LOTS of pieces so I plan to continue mixing them in between other more mindless projects.

While working on En Provence and the MoC blocks I managed to finish another row of tumblers and then joined the two sections I had assembled thus far.  I still have a very long way to go but I love it!

I decided to get a head start on my 2017 UFOs by working on my Disappearing Nine Patch. I have just completed all of the nine patches and will head to the sewing room now to cut them up and start assembling blocks.  This one has been hanging around for a long time...started in 2007.  I'm thinking it deserves to be finished by its 10th anniversary!

Back to the sewing room for me!  Check out Bonnie's Monday Link-up to see how others fared with this week's nice and easy clue!

Monday, December 19, 2016

En Provence Week Four

Friday Night Sew In was a complete fail for me. It started off well enough - I actually managed to wrap up working by a little after 4pm and was going to run a couple of quick errands before dinner to free up the evening to sew. And then the freezing rain started. Traffic came to a screeching halt with accidents everywhere and some vehicles unable to navigate even the slightest of hills. Thankfully I had a nearly full tank of gas and was finally able to get home without incident, albeit at nearly 7 pm. By the time dinner was eaten and cleaned up I was too tired to do much of anything. 

I got up early Saturday and started cutting for Step 4 of En Provence. Tri-recs units aren't my favorite to cut - I end up with the little corner confetti all over my sewing room. And while I couldn't spend a lot of time in the sewing room this weekend - I had to get the tree up and some cookies baked - I still managed to complete the step and stay caught up!

This quilt is very purple-y so far!  I can't even imagine how the greens and yellows will factor in. I assume we will see those this week - and we know we are done with tri-recs units, so I'm guessing something with half square triangles?    

Head over to the Mystery Monday Link-up on Bonnie's blog to see the fantastic progress everyone is making on En Provence. Not much sewing time for me this week - I have to get my act together and finish my Christmas shopping (and baking, and wrapping...).  I hope to have everything finished by the time Friday's clue is posted so I can start sewing early - it's a holiday and the beginning of a glorious 11 day break from work!  

Monday, December 12, 2016

En Provence Week Three

I definitely set the bar low going into the weekend - work was insanely busy last week and I knew I would be working much of the weekend just to try and keep my head above water. Isn't it wonderful how everyone suddenly gets motivated to try to finish everything off just before the end of the year? Anyway, I figured there was no way I would be able to finish step three this weekend - that is, until Bonnie posted another really easy one!  I have to believe that one or more of the next few steps will be killers - I have never, ever been able to keep up before!

I'm so excited to report that as very late Saturday night (okay, 1 am Sunday morning) I had all 168 purple four patches sewn and seams spun.  

I was hoping we would be using more purple 2" strips but I suspect that's not the case. Unfortunately I was a little over-zealous in my cutting. Guess all of these will have to go to the scrap drawer for future use! 

I even took time between work and sewing to make myself some snickerdoodles. I've been seeing so many posts and Food Network shows on cookies that I decided I needed to make a few for a pre-Christmas snack.  The Christmas cookie baking will begin in earnest next weekend (and I assure you these will not last until then)!

I even managed to find a little time yesterday afternoon to finish one more Magic of Christmas block. I am way behind - this is my first #15. I need to make a second and then two each of blocks 16-15.  I am anxious to see the proposed settings for these.  I am hoping I can come up with a decent-sized quilt using the double set.

I can't wait to see what the next mystery clue brings! Check out the link-up on Bonnie's blog to see how other mystery quilters are coming along!

Monday, December 5, 2016

En Provence Week Two

This weekend was perfect for sewing and I was able to get quite a bit accomplished while catching up on my recordings on the sewing room DVR. I also had the pleasure of sewing along with Bonnie - I stumbled onto the impromptu Quilt Cam announcement when re-checking the number of four patches needed and was able to tune in and listen to Bonnie while I stitched!

I am happy to report that not only did I get all of Step 2 completed but also was able to make significant progress on Step 1...so much so that I am daring to think I will be completely caught up before the next clue! By the time I wrapped things up and headed downstairs to prepare dinner yesterday I was down to the last 30 four patches, all of which are cut and ready to sew.  The hubby has a dinner meeting tonight so I am planning on hitting the sewing room after work to finish those off.

Not much other progress to report for the week. I did manage to get quite a few hexies prepped on my flights and even pieced one flower in the small amount of spare time I had in the evenings. My flights were definitely not conducive to sewing, particularly the O'Hare to Kalamazoo leg. I actually timed it on the way home - 11 minutes from the time the 10,000 ft bell to the "prepare for landing" announcement. I glued hexies as fast as I could during that 11 minutes, though!

I have been trying to work on my Old Settlement rug a little every night. I've been doing mostly background so my progress doesn't look all that spectacular, but it is coming along.  The picture really doesn't do it justice - this half is 27" high by 36" wide.  It's a BIG rug.  Now that I have all of the motifs hooked in this half I am going to force myself to finish all of the background and grass on this side before moving to the right. The down side of that plan is that it will likely be difficult to keep my frame from tipping over when I try to do the other end!

I can't wait to see the next step of En Provence. I'm pretty confident that in six years of doing the mystery I have never, ever been caught up at any point...and while I realize it probably won't last, it's very exciting for now!  Check out the link-up on Bonnie's blog to see how others are doing - it's really fun to see some of the other colors being used (I think I even saw teal being used as the neutral??)!

Monday, November 28, 2016

En Provence Week One

After trying very hard first to come up with an alternative color scheme this year - only because it is really fun to see how the different color combos play out - I started pulling purple and lavender fabrics from my stash and became hooked.  I was able to find a good variety of the other colors in my vast and freakishly eclectic stash to cover the yardage needed so I decided this was it.  All that was left was to wait for the first clue.

And then Friday morning we were off to the races!  A very simple first step, right?  I figured I would knock out 221 four patches easily and get back to my Magic of Christmas blocks before the long weekend ended.  Why don't these things ever work out the way I envision?  There was a lot of cooking, errand running, dog sitting and other distractions that really ate into my sewing time.  I didn't do my four patches as efficiently as Bonnie does... I am working with lots of odds and ends with very few of similar length so I cut them all into 2" pieces and paired them up.

I finished 93 four patches by Saturday evening and thought I might get the rest on Sunday.  There's no chance that really would have happened, but even less probability after I spent a good hour air sewing. See this pile of strips?  All fed through the machine with an empty bobbin....Sigh!

So at the end of the day I have 93 finished four patches and a bunch of two patches and strip sets. Now I'm just very thankful that Bonnie took it easy on us the first week so there's less catching up to do!

Part of the reason for my lack of progress today was time spent prepping hexies to take on my business trip this week.  I know I likely won't ever get a chance to take them out of my suitcase, but I wanted to be prepared just in case!  I figure gluing hexies is a good hotel activity that won't be hindered by crappy lighting.

I am already counting the days until I can get back to my machine to work on the mystery quilt! Check out Bonnie's blog to see how they kicked off the mystery in Arizona (I just couldn't commit to organizing something this year) and how others are progressing on their first step!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

FNSI Update

Friday sewing got off to a slow start for delicious reasons... Since my daughter was arriving home from college for Thanksgiving break that afternoon I wanted to have something tasty for dinner. We decided to try a copycat recipe for Olive Garden's gnocci soup that I pinned quite a while back. When I headed to Pinterest to grab the recipe a couple of others caught my eye, so I baked cranberry cream cheese loaf, made buffalo chicken dip (my daughter's favorite) and the soup. It was all delicious! I highly recommend the soup - it was even more delicious yesterday!

When I finally got to the sewing room I started working on the borders for my Allietare quilt.

The inner border (scrappy 1" gold strip) was on by midnight Friday and I finished the outer border (black) Saturday morning.  Unfortunately there is nowhere to lay it out to actually show the borders!  I am very happy with the colors now - they really clicked for me when I got the top assembled. I am wishing that I had made the black border wider than the pattern called for as the quilt hangs about 2" above the side rails of the bed but no way I'm replacing them or adding another border! Borders are my second least favorite part of quilting (the first being sewing the binding on!).

I can't wait to get it onto the machine to quilt!  I need to look through my patterns and decide on a design. I seem to be stuck in a feather rut - my last several quilts have some sort of feather variation. Perhaps I can find something different for this one.

I haven't gotten to my Magic of Christmas blocks yet this weekend - that's on the agenda for today - but did get my guild BOM finished.  The photo doesn't do the colors justice. I absolutely love this block! 

Off to do a little housecleaning and then it's up to the sewing room! I need to decide on my colors for this year's mystery. I'm not sure I want to use Bonnie's colors but so far have not been able to come up with an idea of my own. I need to make a decision quickly...step one is only five days away!

Head over to the Sugarlane Designs blog to see what everyone else accomplished at the second to last FNSI of 2016!

Monday, November 14, 2016

BFF Birthday Bash 2016

Janice and Julie held their annual birthday bash over the past weekend and I was so happy to be able to attend this year. We had a full house - I think there were 19 of us - and the weather was beautiful. Amazing to see perfect fall weather - crisp, clear mornings and sunny afternoons in the mid 60s - in November!  I was very inspired by all of the beautiful work being done and had a great time seeing old friends and meeting a few new ones this year.

The food was incredible as always - Janice's butternut squash soup, Jim's delicious BBQ spread and or course his famous gumbo!  Everything was wonderful! I failed to get a picture of Jim's new lighted "Gumbo" sign above the studio door.  I will have to grab a shot of that next time.

I made good progress on my Maggie rug. I finally looked at the real name - it is called "Old Settlement".  I had the cabin and the bird hooked before getting to Janice's but wasn't happy with the bird wings.  Janice helped me come up with a color that looks a lot less "blob-like" and works well with my flowers. Maggie had also suggested I just use the browns and greens I was using in the flowers and cabin for the tree, acorns and grass but I wanted to mix it up a little more. Janice helped me select some very "tree-like" grays for the trunk and we blended several different yellow and blue greens with the other two in the flower stems. I love the tree and am really happy with my grass now.

The other thing I wasn't thrilled with was my porch on cabin #2. We decided the former bird wing would be a much better color for the porch so out came the dark brown and in went the silo silver.  I think it looks much better now.

I filled in a bit more background while I was there.  I need to keep plugging away at the background because there is a LOT of it in this rug and I hate to get everything else finished and only have background left to hook. I think I will focus on getting the rest of the tree on the left side hooked and then make myself stick to background for a while before moving to the motifs on the right side.

There were three of us working on this pattern this weekend.  I should have taken pictures of the other two.  It was amazing how different they all look!

I stayed at my daughter's house while in KC and enjoyed visiting with her, her husband and all the critters. They were puppy-sitting for Shin (the Corgi) so it was quite the zoo. Shin and Dipper (her Border Collie) had a good old time wrestling and slobbering all over each other. They are so cute!

I'm looking forward to FNSI this weekend. I am working hard to finish up my Allietare top before the 2016 mystery starts a week from Friday so that will be the first order of business. And then there are the Primitive Gatherings Magic of Christmas blocks - four more were posted yesterday and they are supposed to come at a "fast and furious" rate between now and Thanksgiving, so I am instantly way behind on those.

FNSI Sign-ups

Want to join in the FNSI fun?  Click on the link above to sign up!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Irene Blanck Workshop

Last week we had the pleasure of having Irene Blanck come to town to do a workshop for our TAS group. I met Irene when I took her class in Houston last year and we discussed the possibility of her coming to the St. Louis area to teach when she returned to Houston this year. I was thrilled when everything fell into place to bring her here for a couple of days before she headed off to Quilt Market. 

Our workshop project was Irene's Mosaics quilt from her book with Quiltmania.  It was a great choice for a class as we covered both applique and English paper piecing.  Irene's method for EPP is different from what I have always done and although I am still working to get used to it, I think it is a better technique for ensuring stitches don't show.

Here's a picture of Irene's quilt (part of it, anyway - we had to get creative go we could hang it over the TV mounted on the wall):

And here is my basted center sans dots (which will be added once the rest is stitched). Irene helped with the selection of fabrics for the bird.  He's pretty wild!  I did a little bit of stitching on the circle over the weekend but haven't gotten very far.

We tried to get pictures of everyone's centers.  I wasn't able to get up high enough to get a good angle but you can see the variety.  The dark backgrounds look really striking!  

We are hoping to have Irene back to do another workshop when she is in St. Louis for Spring Market in 2017.  She is an excellent and very fun teacher!

The past few weeks have been a little crazy and I haven't had much time in the sewing room, but I have managed to get a few things done. I caught up on my guild BOM blocks, finished two each of the Magic of Christmas blocks 10-13 (I'm sort of caught up!), and last but definitely not least finally finished quilting this monster!

This was my first large quilt on the long arm. It was definitely the quilt from hell! After taking it off the frame to pull out almost a full row of quilting (which took many, many hours), I reloaded it and didn't get it lined up correctly so I ended up having to rip out more stitching. I finally was able to get everything lined up well enough and quilted down to the last section and found that my backing was not long enough. It was about 2" short. I was so tired of this quilt that my initial thought was to just trim all the borders down to match and be done with it, but after sleeping on it I decided to take it off the frame AGAIN and piece some backing from the site onto the bottom. I reloaded again and once again didn't get it lined up perfectly (I've since learned how to avoid that problem in a class I took at MQX Springfield last weekend) so I have a few places where the quilting overlaps.  I decided that I would just let it go...I was more than ready to be finished with this one!  So it is FAR from perfect but I never intended for it to be on a bed anyway.  It doesn't look half bad folded! I definitely learned a lot from it and am hoping my next one goes much better!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Rug Hooking with Maggie Bonanomi

As usual I am behind in getting a September update posted. Life has been crazy busy lately!

A couple of weekends ago I attended a three day workshop with Maggie Bonanomi at Nola's studio in St. Louis. We did two days of rug hooking and one day of wool applique. It was really fun to hook again and the workshop gave me the hooking bug.  Maggie has some beautiful designs and I love her color palette!  Below is one of her rugs that I am absolutely in love with. She told us it was her first rug (note the "97"). The colors are beautiful and I love the squiggly line around the border!

I hadn't done any hoking since the beginning of June and was reluctant to start yet another rug, let alone another huge one. I had purchased Maggie's cabin rug (I can never remember the actual name) last year while out at Janice's so I had to decide between starting another giant project and buying another pattern.  I decided to stick with what I already had and thus now have three ridiculously large rugs in progress. I am loving this rug so far!


I actually have a little more completed than shown in these pictures.  I have a bit more of the greenery hooked and have started filling in the background.  I also have the cabin below completed.

I will be attending Janice's Birthday Bash in November and plan to keep working on this one.  I need to get at least one of these big ones finished before I even think about starting another one!

I thought that September might be the month that I finally achieved my orange peel goal (one per day).  I was going strong the first half of the month but fell behind once I started traveling. I managed to do 20 in September, which when combined with the pathetic 7 I finished in August but never counted brings my grand total to 163. 

I had also hoped to catch up on my Magic of Christmas blocks last weekend but fell just a little short. I finished two each of blocks 6, 7 and 8 and one of block 9. By the time I had those done Lisa had published blocks 10 and 11.  I wouldn't be surprised to see more posted before the weekend so I will be spending a lot of time at my machine again this weekend. 

I have a busy rest of October - a business trip followed by some fun.  I will be attending the MQX show in Springfield next weekend and then will be hosting Irene Blanck for a two day workshop the following week. I am really looking forward to both (but not so much the trip to New Jersey)!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

BOTP 2016

Baltimore on the Prairie 2016 is now one for the record books!  This year's conference, in its second year at Lied Lodge in Nebraska City, was inspirational as always. I can't really say that I learned much but it is unbelievably energizing to see all of the incredible work done by the participants and instructors. There was one very exciting tip I picked up from one of my classmates - she takes her quilt backs to the dry cleaner to be laundered and ironed. I'm embarrassed to admit how long I have had quilt tops sitting around here waiting for backing to be ironed, Complete genius!

I don't have any pictures of my own work to post this week but want to share some photos of the beautiful quilts that we saw in show and tell and Jeanna Kimball's trunk show. I unfortunately didn't keep track of who did what - there were so many beautiful quilts and they moved pretty quickly!

First, our class photo from Barbara Burnham's three day workshop:

And here is just a sampling of the gorgeous quilts we saw:

I am always amazed by how much these ladies are able to accomplish!  If only I could focus my attention on one project long enough to actually finish something...