Thursday, October 19, 2017

Aunt Emma & Other Progress

I'm still working to restore order after a month of crazy travel - nine trips in five weeks!  I have been trying very hard to stay caught up with Triangle Gatherings although it does really seem like Lisa is plotting against me...she seems to post new blocks the minute I think I'm on top of it. Here are blocks 63-74:

Lisa has said that there will be a total of 90 blocks so we are getting pretty close to the end! It will be interesting to see how she sets them. Several of the participants have added star points to them and they look fantastic.  I'm  not thrilled about the idea of adding that much work to a project that is nearing the finish line but I really, really like the look.  It would certainly make for a large quilt!

Baltimore on the Prairie was a lot of fun this year.  We had a great group in the Open Studio.  I spent the entire three days working on one SLAM block and sadly didn't even finish!  I still have a few flowers and leaves to applique and then need to add embroidery.  I love this project but progress is sooooo slow!

The last trip I took was to Janice's. My plan was NOT to start anything new.  I was planning to work on the rug that I started in July. My resolve was very faded as soon as I saw the new pattern Janice had drawn from an antique rug one of my friends found on Pinterest when we were together back in July.  She named it "Aunt Emma's Garden". Here's a really fuzzy picture of the original:

I thought it would be fun to hook the rug in just red and green.  I was able to get a fairly good start on it while I was there and love how it is looking.  My friend is hooking it in soft pinks.  I can't wait to see how they turn out and how different they look.

I was able to make progress on a couple of other UFOs over the past week now that I am finally home.  I finished hooking my cabins - photo to come later after it has been steamed - and quilted my Disappearing Nine Patch.  I tested my newly-learned skill to attach the binding by longarm and loved it!  It was a bit awkward at first but overall worked out really well and was so much easier than man-handling a queen sized quilt through a regular machine.

I have a lot of binding work to catch up on now...not my favorite part.  I plan to quilt my En Provence top next - I need to have that one finished before the new mystery starts at Thanksgiving!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Lots of Travel

September has been crazy busy and lots of fun so far and it's not over yet!  I just returned from Baltimore on the Prairie 2017 and will be heading out this week for the MQX show in Springfield. I've done a lot of flying and driving in the past few weeks (there was a business trip to Connecticut in the mix) and although I don't have much to show for it project-wise my brain is exploding with inspiration!

Before heading off to Nebraska I made a quick day trip down to the first fall Paducah Quilt Week to take a class with my quilting hero, Lisa Bonjean. It was everything I hoped it would be and more!  Lisa is a fantastic designer and even better teacher.  I didn't get very far on my project but have it all prepped to stitch.  Perhaps I can have it finished for fall next year!

I was part of the inaugural class of the Open Studio at Baltimore on the Prairie this year.  I spent quite a bit of time prepping projects in the weeks prior to the trip and had great hopes of getting lots of things accomplished.  I took five projects along - two SLAM blocks, two panels of clamshells, wool appliqué and English paper piecing.  And how much did I get done?  Not even one SLAM block - and I worked on it the entire time!

We learned several new tricks from our Open Studio classmates and saw some amazing work.  One of this year's teachers, Jeana Kimball, shared some of her recent Baltimore album research with us and gave us a sneak preview of the Jane Austin-inspired quilt she is working on.

She's added some appliqué to some of her diamonds and changed the border to triangles.  It looks great so far!  

I don't have much in the way of my own work to share in this post, so I will settle for a somewhat recent picture of my Maggie rug. Since this was taken I've hooked the bird and the tree and have started the background in that section.  I am making myself finish the background nearly down to the cabin before hooking the cabin itself - I can't stand to leave the boring stuff for last!

I would love to have this finished and ready to bind when I head to Janice's next week.  Not that there's any chance that will happen!  How long until I can retire?? 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Catching Up

I have had so much going on the past few weeks that I have not been getting much sewing done.  I have fallen way behind on all three SBOWs and was also rapidly losing ground on Triangle Gatherings. There's no hope for the SBOWs...while I did manage to prep ansd sew a few more hexies onmy flights last week and to prep week #4 of the wool one they have officially become UFOs.  So this weekend the plan was to at least catch up on Triangle Gatherings. I starched, sewed, and cut....

And then started assembling.  Blocks 52-62 are now complete!

According to Lisa's latest post there are 30 blocks left (not sure if the total is 90 or 92).  After all the catching up I am down to one set of HSTs so it's time to start starching again! 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Yet Another Rug Started!

It feels like I haven't gotten all that much done over the past couple of weeks, probably because I am watching the Primitive Gatherings BOW bags pile up in the sewing room as I quickly fall behind! The weekend before last I worked on week #4 of the pieced and pieced/wool versions. Week #8 should be here on Thursday, so I am quickly losing ground! And I am even farther behind on the EPP version....I'm barely started on that one!

I also spent some time prepping more HSTs for Triangle Gatherings.

And then was able to catch up on the latest Triangle Gatherings blocks.

Almost immediately after I posted in the Facebook group that I was all caught up Lisa posted a couple more blocks. And then a couple more.  I am at least four behind now. I may have to prep more HSTs once I catch up on those!  My sense of satisfaction was definitely short-lived!

I am obsessed with quilts with lots of pieces. We had a very entertaining speaker (Gyleen Fitzgerald) at our quilt guild this month who began her trunk show with this beautiful antique quilt top:

And then this one showed up on Instagram last night:

I am so obsessed with quilts like these - lots of little pieces! A star quilt is on my "someday" list. I will have to live 100 years beyond retirement to finish all of the projects I have started, much less the ones I still want to start...

I spent last weekend in "Hooker's Heaven" - Janice's studio. This was my third workshop with Jayne Hester. I decided to really take advantage of her expertise in planning low contrast, very muted rugs this year. I usually push her out of her box doing things wth far more color and contrast. This is the fourth very large rug I have started in a little over a year - insane, I know - but I saw this pattern at Janice's and couldn't resist. 

After this picture was taken we decided the green stem was too strong - which is hard to believe if you see the color in person - and replaced it with a gray. I am in love with the colors in this rug!

I decided that I can't start any new rugs until at least next June when I am back at Janice's. I am setting a goal to finish at least two of these big ones before then. I am hoping to get back to hooking this evening if the thumb that I closed in the car door on Sunday cooperates. Yep, not the best ending to an otherwise fantastic weekend!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

June UFO Status Update

It's that time again - this year is really flying by!  I don't have any pictures for my June UFO update, and technically no completions to report. While I should be reporting my Winter Stars (APQ UFO) complete as it was quilted and bound - and hung in our quilt show - I really need to redo some of the quilting along one edge where I had tension issues.  I had planned to put it back on the longarm over the long weekend but kept putting it off until eventually time ran out so I can't cross it off the list just yet.  I never even touched my Patchwork Times UFO - Sister's choice. I am keeping plenty busy with piecing my Primitive Gatherings SBOWs and decided to spend the long weekend focusing on those.

I have so many PG projects going that I had to get out the ironing board for more "table" space! I spent most of my four day weekend working on the pieced and wool SBOWs.  I have weeks 1-3 of the wool version and freebies pieced and prepped and weekss 1-2 of the pieced version completed.

I am completely in love with Starlite Skies (the pieced SBOW).  I am about half way through week 3. Not caught up, but not terrible. Week 5 should arrive this week.

I also managed to catch up with my Triangle Gatherings blocks. We are up to #48 now.  Unfortunately I used up all my prepped HSTs so I now need to make more before I get too far behind again.

I also managed to spend a little time on my latest rug since returning from all my travels.

I need to go through and put a plan together for the outside leaves. I think we had a plan and Janice has made quite a few notes on the border, but of course I have forgotten what they mean. It's always SO clear when we are discussing it that I am sure I will remember....not the case. My husband asked why I chose this design to work on...clearly that's his way of saying he doesn't like it....but I love it!  I am having fun with the background. I plan to keep working on this one for a while - at least until I start another new one with Jayne Hester later this month.  Arrghhh... I need to quit bouncing from one rug to another and finish something!

I have a head start on one of my July UFOs - I finished it in May! The other one, Magic of Christmas, is a bit more challenging. I only have a couple of blocks left but they are tough. Lots of cuting and tiny pieces. I need another four day weekend to motivate myself to work on that one!

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!