Monday, June 12, 2017

A Month of New Starts

I am late on my June UFO updates mainly because I had nothing to share - at least not for the APQ and Patchwork Times UFOs.  I spent most of my sewing time in May binding quilts and putting sleeves on them for our guild's quilt show.  I finally finished and returned to "fun" stitching last weekend. One of these years I am going to learn not to leave binding until the last minute!

I spent the first weekend of June in my very favorite place - Wooly Woolens (Janice Johnson's).  A group of ladies from Arkansas joined us this year and we had a fantastic time.  The food was incredible as always and I am definitely going to use one of the dessert recipes the next time I host bee.

Here's Leah hard at work on her rug.  See the cabinet of wool behind her? Janice said she found it on a recent trip. It looks so good filled with wool!


Another picture of the studio with Janice busy teaching.


And a few pictures of my new rug - another one that is a little too long to photograph easily:




I love my little sheep so much that I might have to replace the cow in the pattern with another sheep. It's a fun pattern with a lot of different things to hook.  I've made a little more progress on it since I returned home, mostly hooking background since I hate to leave it until the end.

Below is my Celtic Solstace quilt, finally finished, hanging in our quilt show.


And Winter Stars - not counting this one finished yet, though.  As I was binding it for the show I noticed that the end design on about three rows of quilting had tension issues so I plan to take them out and try to re-quilt in those spaces before crossing it off my list and giving it to my daughter.


I had two other quilts in the show, my Farmhouse and My Garden Album quilts. I was really surprised that one of them won a ribbon - I definitely didn't expect that!


June 7th was like Christmas at my house - my first shipment of the Primitive Gatherings Summer Block of the Week arrived in the mail.


I couldn't wait to get started!  There's tons of piecing in this one, both in the wool and the pieced projects. Lisa calls for starching all of your fabrics before you begin and I am starting to believe that it helps with piecing accuracy (still a little reluctant to completely but in as it is a lot of extra work!). I came up with a better system for starching - I was previously laying my charm squares on a towel on the floor and spraying them. An old coated wire shelf balanced over the tub works really well - they dry super fast and the overspray can be rinsed down the drain.


I filled the rack four times just to starch the fabrics for the first week. There is a lot of fabric in these kits!


I made a decent start on week one. Neither of the wool blocks are stitched yet.  The nine patches are part of the pieced version. I also prepped a bunch of hexies for the EPP project. I am only about half way done with the week one prep and already went through a whole glue pen.  I definitely need to pick up more refills at the KC show next weekend.

I have also managed to keep up fairly well with the Triangle Gatherings blocks. The last bunch of HSTs I prepped were from a Miniature Gatherings charm pack and are all blacks and browns so not all that exciting.



I have one more block to make to catch up completely but have to prep more squares.  I starched up a bunch of reds, greens and blues this weekend to add more color.

I'm off to the Kansas City Regional Quilt Festival this weekend.  My goal is to avoid picking up any more new projects!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Clamshells Squared

The past week has been a bit crazy with a lot of driving and quilty fun. I will likely have to spend a good portion of my holiday weekend catching up on work with all the days off but it was worth it!

Last weekend was Spring Quilt Market, held in St. Louis this year. Irene Blanck came to town for Market and took time out on Friday to come to O'Fallon to teach her clamshell technique. I realized at the end of the class that I completely forgot to take any pictures of Irene or the workshop, but I did manage to get this one of her quilt: 


I really enjoyed the workshop and am looking forward to seeing Irene again next year.  She is a wonderful teacher!  I have always wanted to do a clamshell quilt.  My favorite layout is the one with the alternating light rows. Here's what I have so far (just basted, not sewn yet):


I'm not entirely sure that my light row is coming across as intended due to the lack of contrast with some of my "darks", but I really like it.

On Tuesday morning I hit the road for Hamilton, MO to attend the first annual MSQC Academy. It was a great event!  There was a lot that could be improved upon - some of the classrooms were way too small, the "make and take" classes were so popular that people lined up an hour in advance to get in, etc. - but overall they did a fantastic job pulling it together.  The sessions were a combination of demos, trunk shows and hands-on classes, sort of like a mini version of Market Schoolhouse.

One of the first sessions I attended was a make and take (sort of as there was no room to actually work on the project) with Leoni Bateman. The project was a little pin cushion that was part of this new pattern set she released at Market.  She gave a presentation on her wool applique technique.


I took lots of pictures - so many that I am forgetting who showed what! This is a new BOM from Bonnie Sullivan who was there promoting Woolies flannels. It is adorable!


This upcoming sew-along from Lori Holt was introduced along with many other patterns and fabric lines at the Riley Blake/Penny Rose trunk show.  


On Wednesday morning I started the day with another clamshell workshop, this time with Sue Daley. It was another fantastic workshop - Sue is very entertaining and a very good teacher!


Her technique was different from Irene's in that she does English paper piecing, but I really liked it as well.  She had a couple of great tricks, too - and got me to try (and kind of like?) a size 15 milliners needle!  I have been using sharps for applique for years so there was a bit of an adjustment period as these needles are about three times longer than what I am used to.

Another session I attended was put on by Liz of Lizzie B Creative. She told the story of how she and her sister-in-law (both named Elizabeth Ann Hawkins) started their business and their adventures in creating their booths for Market, and how a retreat at MSQC changed her life.  In September of 2015 she and some of her designer friends from around the country met at MSQC for a sewing retreat. Liz noticed that the little bakery next to the retreat center was closed and learned that they were having trouble finding a baker to run it. She loves to bake and had always dreamed of owning a bakery. A little over a month later she and her family had relocated from Philly to Hamilton and in January of 2016 they opened Mama Hawk's. She has fixed the little shop up in her colors and style and even sells her books and patterns there. It is adorable and the food was fantastic!



The event closed with a trunk show by Sue Daley. She was a great speaker and her presentation was very entertaining!  She showed lots of quilts, including new ones created for Market. Here is one that she and Leone (aka Marge & Flo) each put their own spin on (Sue's version is on the left, Leone's on the right):


She showed several of her new projects done in her new Linen and Lawn fabrics. Here are just a couple - the bottom one is my favorite.



I am looking forward to spending more time with my clamshells over the long weekend. I am still racing to complete binding two quilts for our upcoming quilt show (okay, not really racing - moving slowlyand complaining all the way!) and have some catch-up to do on Triangle Gatherings blocks. I am ready to sew!

Monday, May 1, 2017

April UFO Update

Wow - April really flew by!  I can't believe it's been a month since I posted. May is promising to be the same with quite a bit of travel so next month's progress report is likely to be a bit weak. I have plenty of progress (complete with terrible photos) to report for April, however!

I really, really hoped to be able to say that my Allietare quilt (Patchwork Times UFO) was completed this month but I finally had to give up and head to bed last night with about 20% of the binding still needing to be stitched down. I hope to have that one completed within the next couple of days, particularly since I have two more queen-sized quilts to bind and put sleeves on before our guild's quilt show in June.

I am happy to report very significant progress on my APQ UFO - my Disappearing Nine Patch.  I finished the top yesterday. This quilt was started as a block exchange with my bee and I added to it to make it larger.  The finished size is about 85" square. I thought about adding a solid border to make it a good queen size but I kind of like it without.  I already have the backing for this one so I hope to get it quilted soon.


Last week was my annual trip to the AQS show in Paducah. I know they are starting a second show this year but I am planning to abstain from that one as a form of silent (and completely unnoticed, I'm sure) protest. I find it really sad that AQS has expanded to so many shows that none are really special anymore. I know it is partly because I just don't need as many things these days...or am at least somewhat facing reality about how many projects I already have...but my stays in Paducah keep getting shorter.  This year I was out of things to do by the end of the day Wednesday and decided to come back a day early. With hotel rates increasing nearly 50% for nest year I may be down to a one nighter!

I did have a lot of fun while I was there, including taking a class with Nancy Mahoney. I fell in love with a pattern she published in the Jul/Aug 2009 Fons and Porter magazine and purchased a bunch of thirties fabrics to make it. When I saw she was teaching the pattern in Paducah this year I had to sign up.  I finally cut into the fabrics and made the first block.  The blocks are 16" finished so there are only 12 in the quilt.


I find using thirties fabrics really challenging for me. They are way outside my comfort zone!  I plan to get rid of them all when this quilt is finished.  I can only see doing this once!

I visited Lisa of Primitive Gatherings a couple of times during the week and was able to get an advance sneak-preview of the Summer BOWs. I absolutely LOVE them!  I can't wait for them to begin - I am definitely signing up! And speaking of Lisa and PG, I spent Friday catching up on my Triangle Gatherings blocks. She's releasing them so quickly that I am almost out of prepped triangles again. Time to starch more squares!


This month's UFOs are Disappearing Nine Patch (Patchwork Times this time) and En Provence (APQ).  If all goes well I may be able to get at least one of them quilted. At a minimum I will make a final decision on whether to add anything more to En Provence. It's an odd size - definitely a small queen. But I really, really hate borders....

Monday, April 3, 2017

March UFO Update

I don't have any finishes to report for the month of March, but I did make very good progress on at least one of my UFOs.  I finished 12 of my Magic of Christmas blocks, leaving 4 (2 each of the last two patterns) to go.  And I loosely came up with a setting that requires only 49 blocks, so that would mean only 3 to go (and a lot of half square triangles for a border...).

I didn't fare so well on my Mosaics project.  I've been focused more on hooking than applique in the evenings the past few weeks so I only managed to finish getting the bird stitched.  I was hoping to finish all of the center applique during the month but that just didn't happen. I am excited to report that I finished hooking the center of the ship rug, however, and just have a couple of rows of border to hook before it's on to binding that one.  I am hoping to have it ready to bind at Wool Club next Saturday.

I have managed to keep up with my Triangle Gatherings blocks, completing 3 last week for a total of 25 so far.


The 6" blocks are really fun to do and go really fast when you have the pieces pre-prepared. I have 3 more ready to go and then will need to starch more charm squares. I'm still not loving making the 3" blocks using the triangle paper and have not done any more. I'm getting so far behind on those that I may scrap that plan completely and just stick with the larger ones.  



The month of March ended with a crazy busy work week that prevented me from doing much of anything.  April is off to a good start, however, with quite a bit of progress on my APQ UFO (Disappearing Nine Patch) and the opening of baseball season (my favorite time of year)!


I was lucky to be able to attend this year's opening game.  I haven't been to one in quite a few years and was really amazed by the number of people downtown - clearly the game being on a weekend instead of the usual weekday afternoon was a huge boost to the downtown economy.  The Cardinals really know how to open the season - it is so incredible to see the Clydesdales circle the field and watch all of the Hall of Famers on the field.  And we pulled off a win against the Cubs - a beautiful way to kick off the year!

Monday, March 20, 2017

FNSI Update

I was able to spend plenty of time in the sewing room Friday night and the rest of the weekend and made fairly decent progress on one of my March UFOs - Magic of Christmas. I finished five blocks which leaves seven more to go - two each of three patterns, one of another that I skipped early on. Seven doesn't sound all that bad until you look at them...hundreds of tiny pieces left to assemble!


I also managed to keep caught up with Triangle Gatherings - two blocks finished last week and six more sets of triangles prepped and ready for Lisa's posts.  


And lest you think that all I ever do is make blocks (I am starting to feel like that myself!), I fnally loaded my Winter Stars quilt on the frame and selected a quilting design.  


I hope to get it quilted this week. Then it can join the growing pile of "just needs binding".  I wish I enjoyed that part!

Monday, March 13, 2017

So Many Triangles!

I have4 been enjoying a little time at home the past couple of weekends and have been trying very hard to keep up with Triangle Gatherings as well as make progress on this month's UFOs.  The weekend before last I caught up on my 6" block and then thought I would get a start on catching up the 3" version. I finished one block and am not sure I am going to take that one any farther.


I'm no stranger to small blocks - I started out quilting making miniatures - but I am not a fan of the triangle papers for these.  The seam allowances are about 1/8"amd are not at all fun to press open.


The little dog ears were a pain to trim also.  And then the pieces aren't quite as easy to line up - somehow the "bulky" 1/4" seams fight the little seam allowances. I may try another one as I prepped about 8 of them but I did not find the first one to be at all enjoyable!

Lisa posted block 17 at the beginning of the week and thanks to having pieces prepared for several more blocks I was able to finish it that night.  Blocks 18 & 19 posted this weekend and I knocked those out too.


So far, so good!  I am really hoping to keep up through the end so it doesn't become another long-term UFO. Speaking of UFOs, my Mosaics quilt is one of the assignments for this month.  This is how it looked at the beginning of the month (yes, it is in exactly the same spot as it was when the workshop ended last October).


It's hard to tell from the photo, but most of it is not sewn.  The inside of the circle, the bird's head and a little bit of one of the branches have been stitched.  Sadly I have not made much progress since the beginning of the month but am still hoping to at least have all of the center appliqued by the end of the month,

Magic of Christmas is my other UFO for March.  I have made some progress on this one, completing two blocks each of the last two weekends.  I think I have about 10 blocks left to make. These are not at all quick to put together!



I have really been going to town on my 1875 Ship rug - that's part of the reason no applique is getting done.  I took this one with me to Lenexa since it was smaller  (19"x 40").  I hadn't worked on it since the class in 2015 and only had the ship, water, houses and part of the flowers finished.  If I am able to keep up my current pace I think I will have the hooking finished by the end of the month.


We're only halfway through the month - let's see how much farther I can progress my UFOs by then!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

February Wrap-up

Well, February comes to a close with very little progress to report, although I must say that I spent more time working on projects than usual. I was on the road so much of the month that most of my time was spent on applique and rug hooking, neither of which goes very quickly.

I started off the month with a trip to Homestead Hearth's Super Bowl sale.  The following week when I was down in Dallas at the Applique Academy I received a call from the shop indicating that I had won a quilt in their Super Bowl drawing. I stopped by the shop on my way to Kansas City this weekend and picked it up, It is a beautiful quilt and is completely different from anything I make.


The Lenexa hook-in was lots of fun. I had taken my ship from Sally Kallin's class (was that 2015?) along as my Old Settlement is too big for a lap frame and really enjoyed working on that one again. I have actually made decent progress on it in the past few days - I might have to try to finish it off before going back to the other one. Can I finish them both by June???

I didn't get a lot of pictures of rugs at the hook-in but did take this one - I am in love with the pattern and the way the background is hooked. The pattern is called Primitive Paisley. I may have to have this one...


We found a great "dive" called Growlers just down the street from the Community Center.  The food was delicious!  We particularly enjoyed the garlic Parmesan pretzel appetizer.


I made it home in time for a couple of hours in the sewing room on Sunday.  I caught up on my Triangle Gatherings 6" blocks - only to see when I logged in to post this that she posted another one today. I'm still doing pretty well at keeping up.


And I had time to finish a few more bow ties. My total for February was 64, or 2.1% of the number required to finish the quilt. I'm not sure how many I have altogether - I need to count. But given how little time I had at home this month, I am just happy to be able to count any progress on my UFO.


I did not get anything accomplished on the other UFO assignment for the month, Among Friends. Hopefully the next time that one comes around I won't be traveling. It requires serious sewing machine time.

Can't wait to see what UFOs I will be putting on the "To Do" list for March!

Monday, February 20, 2017

TKDAA 2017

Apologies in advance for the lousy photos - I think it is about time for a phone upgrade (or to go back to an old-school camera).  This year's TKDAA was lots of fun albeit not terribly productive (as usual for me!). I was in Elly's "self study" class this year and spent my time working on a block for my SLAM quilt. It is amazing how long it can take to prep a single block! I finished the week with about a quarter of it stitched.

Elly was entertaining as always. There were so many beautiful quilts on display during the dinners, including a number of Sue Garman's designs.


Mary Koval shared several quilts and her vast knowledge of broderie perse applique in a luncheon lecture.


She brought along this recently-acquired album quilt to share with us. It is in wonderful condition!


Brenda Papadakis discussed her Dear Jane journey at a dessert reception.  The quilt behind her was made for George and Laura Bush by quilters from all around the world by the online Dear Jane group after 9/11.  Brenda has been trying to get the quilt to Laura Bush for years.  

Spending time with Brenda over the week and seeing other attendeess quilts and blocks makes me want to start another DJ quilt. I started three but have never landed on a color theme that inspires me to keep going. It's likely a fourth start would meet the same fate - and I already have more projects started than I can finish in my lifetime. So far I have controlled my impulses - hopefully the thought will fade soon!

Lisa has been busy posting Triangle Gatherings patterns!  I caught up on my 6" blocks over the weekend. I still haven't started any of the smaller ones.Below are blocks 8-13.


I also spent a little time working on bow ties yesterday so I could claim at least a little progress on one of my February UFOs. I only managed to finish 16 before it was time to make dinner but it's better than nothing! I shudder every time I see the total needed on the pattern card (3,023). Sigh!


I also worked a little on block 1 of Sue Spargo's 2017 BOM over the past couple of weeks but her BOM rules prohibit us from sharing pictures.  I hope to finish the applique this week so I can get to the decorative stitching.  The second block kit arrived Saturday so I am already falling behind.

I'm off to Kansas City for the Rock Creek Hook-in next weekend. I have made a little more progress on my Maggie rug but nothing worth sharing - still trying to get half of the background finished before moving on to do more of the fun stuff. I am still hoping to have that one finished before heading back to Janice's in June....an ambitious goal for sure!