Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What's Up? Lots!

Helpful A1 is very helpful!
It's been kind of quiet here on the blog, for which I apologize! The sad truth is that I used to mostly blog on my desktop computer, because the laptop had some quirks (like erasing whole blocks of text if I tried to do something exotic like use the shift key) that made it fairly unpleasant to blog on.

Then the desktop died, and it was either use the laptop or the iPad. Both have their quirks.

Plus it's been a little busy around here, or I just haven't felt up to doing much.
This is what I found when I unrolled the fabric.
Pattern and pieces all ready to go.

Plus, my daughter is getting married in--let's see, 10 days!  I've also made a quick trip back East to see my granddaughter graduate from Brown, and visit with family and friends back there.

Including finding a couple of new quilt shops, and a yarn shop or two, plus a meetup at Webs with a long-time online friend. 
 Plus sometimes there's a corrupted process that means my layout ideas go straight down the tubes. This seems to be one of those posts.

Anyway, enough kvetching! On to the quilting!

A slight inversion here as far as project continuity goes, due to (once again) the wonky way my pictures uI ploaded and have settled themselves. So first let's talk about the "new" project here.

I had been looking at a tub in the garage through which I could see this very celebratory-looking fabric, so I hauled it inside and checked it out. Oh my blueberries! Inside were all 6 or so of my Mary Ellen Hopkins quilting books, plus Judy Hopkins' Around the Block and a Trudie Hughes book.
One of the partially-done blocks in the tub.

Tucked into Judy's book were quite a few post-its with notes scribbled onto them. The piece of fabric turned out to be wrapped around a whole lot of cut pieces, plus two partially-completed blocks. I realized that I could easily put all these pieces together if I chose to-- I even found the page with the pattern. She calls it Grape Basket.

So I finished up the sewing on the borders for the pinwheel quilts (more on that below) and set all that aside for the massive pressing and trimming project entailed there.
Sailing along piecing triangles, not too bad!

And then I could play with the baskets. There are only 20 blocks, everything is cut out and they go together really quickly and smoothly. 

So now I have 20 half-baskets done, and I'm busy working on the other halves to get everything done. Still deciding on a layout--20 blocks might work if I do one layout, but another (with sashings and cornerstones, like the pinwheels) will only use 18.

The thing is, I'm nearly certain that this was going to be 2 quilts of 9 blocks each. I've been able to date the contents of the box to 1996, and I think it was part of an Asilomar class with Judy. I used to go to Asilomar with a "friend" who always wanted to do what she called "team sewing" where we'd both work on the same project and finish up with a quilt apiece. This would have been really cool if she had done much sewing, but well, she didn't really. Lots of naps and time spent away from class. It took me about three nanoseconds to realize what was going on, but I enjoy sewing and it really is just as easy to do twice the sewing when it's easy chain piecing, or twice the cutting. We stopped going to Asilomar together when I balked at bringing her breakfast in bed every morning, and decided that a certain project was too complicated to make two of, and she had to start her own.

But that's a digression. Now I have twice as many blocks as originally planned, and I think this will make a nice quilt. If I wind up using 18 blocks on the quilt top, I'll put the two extras on the back. Problem solved!

Backwards to the pinwheel quilts. As I said just above, I don't mind doing a whole lot of sewing or cutting or piecing at a time, which is a good thing with these 6 pinwheel quilts!

I decided that it might be fun to make a Flying Geese border for one of the quilts, since I had a whole lot of 2.5" squares of the white fabric already cut. I had cut a lot of 2.5" strips out of a "new" tub of 30s fabrics, so I cut a bunch of 4.5" rectangles and got to town on the sewing.

That's what Audrey is helping me with up top there. She and her sister just love my setup with the little travel iron--Abby was delighted when I brought out the mini pink applique iron, too! (They iron without heat.)

Now all the geese are done and assembled into 4 long strips, ready to be sewn on. Then I took all my random chunks of 2.5" wide pieces and sewed them into long long strips--these will be  borders for the last two quilts, and there's likely enough for binding for at least one quilt too.

So my rocking chair (the one next to the sewing machine) is piled with 6 quilt tops, and a whole lot of border pieces, waiting to be pressed and then trimmed down.
 Sadly I've been having a flareup of my foot/back problems, so standing up long enough to press a whole lot of giant quilt (they are going to be roughly king size) isn't happening today.

Thus my rationale for letting myself work on the baskets! Not that I need to justify my choices to anyone but myself, of course, but there's a bit of Yankee conscience buried deep in my soul and that little voice that says I should finish one project before starting another one.


So this is where I am, piecing basket blocks and contemplating the easiest way to get all those pinwheel quilts pressed and trimmed and bordered so they can be shipped off to the longarmers.

While simultaneously getting ready for a wedding, which will involve most of the family converging out here. It will be so good to see everyone!

Probably a little bittersweet for some of them, since the Old Family Homestead is no longer there!

But that's a blog post for another day. Right now, there are baskets calling my name!

Thursday, May 22, 2014


Visiting my old stomping grounds, and lo and behold, there is a quilt shop in Chicopee! It's called Bayberry Quilts, and it's located in a darling white Victorian house. The rooms are filled with sample quilts (they kit up all their samples), bolts and bolts of fabric in lots of different styles, and charming touches like lace curtains on the windows. They also do long arm quilting and have finished quilts and crafts for sale.

One visit may not be enough...

Because souvenir fabric doesn't count as stash, does it?

I know I didn't get to see it all... There's one whole room full of batiks!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, April 14, 2014

More Progress to Show

Why yes, I am still knitting! Now that all of my quilts that needed binding sewn down have been done, I've been able to pick up a knitting project or two. This is the Cedar Leaf Shawlette, in Araucania wool.

But I'm still plugging away on the pinwheels, though I have reached a milestone today. 

I think I left off on my last blog post with all of the second set of blocks having had their second round of sashing-and-cornerstone added. This put me in line for the next step, assembling the rows.

Ten rows per quilt, three quilts in this batch. I learned a few things assembling the first batch, so this one went a lot quicker.

First I picked out six blocks for the first row, which is one block with sashings and cornerstones on 3 sides. Those were quick to do, and made me feel as if I was off to a good start.

Then I counted out 24 blocks for the next 4 rows. Yes, I counted them three times. I do not trust myself with math where these quilts are concerned!

I took all the rest of the blocks and sewed them into pairs. I then divided them by the color of the leftmost sashing strip, since that's the side that would be sewn to the  row-in-progress.

Kind of a surprise to find that I had mostly purple and orange sashings on that side! I decided it would be a good idea to use those two and sew another color onto each one--if that makes sense to you. In other words, each pair of blocks had either an orange and another color sashing, or a purple and another color.

The quilting supervisor was not amused. However, I thought it was rather funny that the blocks had ended up that way, since I'd tried to be really random when sewing them.

It actually worked out really well. I had a lot of reds and those mostly looked best sewn to a purple, so the other colors--pinks, greens, yellows and blues--mostly wound up sewn to orange blocks.

After that it was a matter of sewing a pair of blocks to each of the 24 I'd reserved. Once that was done, 6 of them got a second sashing and row 2 was done.

Lather, rinse, repeat. The good thing is that each round meant 6 fewer blocks to sew, till I was down to the last set, which contains 9 blocks. 

HiHi was not very happy because this all involved a lot of blocks spread out everywhere. He'd get himself comfortable on a stack, and I'd need something from it. I was almost feeling guilty every time I made him move. He's been working on my sympathy anway because he's so thin under all that fur, and I alternate between worrying about him and then realizing that he's eating plenty, still able to jump up onto my (very high) bed, and has the lungpower of a mountain lion. He's also 17 years old.

So here's the last sashing strip getting attached to the last of the rows of blocks.


And here's the second set of 150 blocks, all ready to be assembled into 3 quilts. I need to find the white fabric I'm pretty sure I bought to do the setting triangles with--I've looked for it, but if it exists it's not readily accessible. Tomorrow I'll look again, and if I don't find it, I'm going to buy more. The shop has white-on-white 108" wide fabric and that would be a really efficient way to cut as many triangles as I need. Yes, I need 18 per quilt, plus 4 corner half-square triangles.

More math, but I'm pretty sure I can manage it this time.

This is my box of leftover sashing and leftover strips from cutying out the blocks. My next big task (other than putting on the setting triangles and assembling the rows) will be putting borders on all the quilts. I really would like to have some different styles and I've been playing with ideas on how to best use these pieces. I think it could be lots of good creative fun. Scrap happy rules!

I'll leave you with the view I finally had when Mr. Fuzzball had had enough of my shenanigans!

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Plugging Along!

 Kind of been a busy-ish week around here, but there's been time for sewing.

And of course, there is a sweet little grey girl cat who wants to be petted.

And petted.

And then maybe a little more petting?

Cause look how sweet...
Who could resist that face?  And all that soft grey fur?

Does make it a little difficult to do any work on the computer, though.

Sorry, dear IRS, I couldn't do my taxes. My cat was bogarting the keyboard and my hands!
 Meanwhile HiHi has rediscovered the little old kitty "condo" from his kittenhood. He's always loved this thing, and frankly it looks like it.

The moving crew (aka my offspring) tried to get me to toss this rather than moving it to the new place, but I thought it would be nice for them to have something familiar in the new place.

He's been curling up in it in the closet where it's been hidden, and really that closet is her "den" so I pulled this out into the sewing room. He's spending even more time in it. Pretzel Boy.

The pinwheels are coming along. At some point in the last day or so, all 150 of the second batch got their second sashing set.

Then I put sashings on the third side of 6 of them, making them Row 1 of the 6 rows needed. Then I sewed another 24 into pairs; then added a third block to them all.

Six of those now have sashings on the last side, so there are now 6 sets of Row 2.

Since my sewing space is a bit tight, I decided it might be better to sew all the remaining blocks into pairs, which could then be added to the "threesies" to make rows of 5, 7, and 9.

When I quit sewing for the night tonight, I had all 6 of the 5-piece rows ready for their last sashing strip. However, see my comment about tight space up there--there's really no place to put things so that I can reach the sashing strips right now! So I guess I'll keep sewing till all the strips have 5 blocks, and then I'll be able to access the pieces I need.
Hopefully the light tomorrow will be good and I can lay out the strips I have done for a preview. Then there's the little matter of locating the white fabric I had cut for setting triangles--oh, and of course, the other set of 150 blocks.

I'd emptied all the bobbins I'd wound to take to Asilomar. Since there's going to be a lot more sewing in the near future, I went ahead and wound up another set of 21 bobbins.

One 500 meter spool winds 7 bobbins. You can see the attrition in the number of spools from the before and after pictures.

And yes, that's the space I have next to the machine to sew on. Even moving the Ott light all the way to the edge (not wise with cats that like to visit my work area) it's not much.

Maybe I need to figure out how to hang the power strip on the wall... that would free up some space, though not much.

Or maybe just work on smaller projects.


Saturday, March 29, 2014

What's Shaking?

 I'll tell you what's shaking--the ground! We're in the middle of a swarm of earthquakes, which are centered just a few miles south of me. There was a medium-strong one last night (5.1) followed by a series of aftershocks, the largest of which so far was a 4.1 today. One of my daughters lost a large mirror that was mounted over her fireplace, but other than rattled nerves we haven't had much damage. Closer to the epicenter, there have been water main breaks and some homes and apartments red-tagged to prohibit occupancy.

It's been quite a year so far, with fire, flood, and now earthquakes.

 I was going to do a post about finishing up this quilt, but obviously my attention was distracted, so it's a bit late.

The color on the top picture is probably closest to the real colors--I took these in late afternoon so there's some artificial light issues. There's also some glare off the French doors. Whatever, it's done!

Added to the list of finishes for the month and the year. Now on to other projects!
 I really do like this pattern! It's from Judy Hopkins' book, Triangle-Free Quiltmaking, and she calls it Dandelion Wine.

I don't remember who made the blue Art Nouveau-feeling print. I do love the feel of it! The 4-patches alternate pink and blue with two shades of green; I altered the pattern slightly by putting a separator strip on both sides of the fabric stips. Judy only used one. For her design, it worked; for mine, I like the pink break better.
 If the pattern looks vaguely familiar, you can hark back to one I finished last year that was made by my "quilting doctors" which I finished up for them. It had strips of Yukata cloth printed in indigo alternating with red and navy 4-patches. I can see using this design, or a variation of it, with a lot of fabrics that have a srong vertical repeat that you'd like to emphasize.

My orange tree is blooming! It still has oranges ripening on it as well, so I guess it's going to be a year-round thing?
 I've never had citrus trees before, although there were some next door. Guess I didn't pay enough attention since they weren't my responsibility! Now I have 3 citrus trees, two of which look sickly to me.

Time for a visit to the local nursery!

I've also got two tall palm trees, both of which are currently bearing fruit that doesn't look particularly edible. Then there's the smaller palm--you can see its yellow fronds there--and two sago palms. For someone who doesn't much like palms, I suddenly have five to care for!

In between rocking and rolling, I finally managed to get back to the sewing machine.  Still plugging away at the pinwheels.

Managed to get 30 done out of the second batch of 150 today. It's a bit of a slow process because, although I'm adding the sashings in a semi-random way, I'm trying to make sure that each block looks aesthetically pleasing. That means choosing the sashing that complements the colors in the blocks.
I have seven basic colors of sashings--red, pink, blue, yellow, orange, purple, and green, with lots of variation within each color family.

They're sorted into stacks so theoretically I can pick up a yellow or a pink strip if I think it will work, without having to ruffle through the whole mess.

In practice, though, I have to disturb my helper, who seems to think he's an integral part of this project.

When I pick a color that's under him, he gets up and moves to the other half of the stack.

This is only good till I need a color he's now covering. Today it took 8 moves before he finally, with a very disgusted air, moved himself to the rocker, where he fell asleep. .

So much for accomplishing anything! At least I've made it through another day and another series of aftershocks--I don't know if it's reassuring or not that I can tell when the small ones are happening, and can then confirm my feelings on the USGS website. Whatever! I think it's going to take a nice glass of wine to help me relax and sleep again tonight!

Friday, March 21, 2014

A Change of Pace

 I've been thinking about the pinwheels a lot lately, so I made a trip to the storage unit and was able to find the box that had the last 150 blocks in it.

The top picture is the original 150 with the first sashing attached to each one.

I need to keep these guys separated. For one thing, I don't want any unauthorized "breeding" which might lead to more squares!

Besides, they are incompatible as they spin in different directions.

So here's the first 50 of the new batch, ready for their first sashings. Thanks to a quiet evening, and watching Saving Mr. Banks on my little DVD player, I have 100 of these done.

I was feeling the need for some slightly more mindless sewing while preparing to sew all the parts of the Jumping Jax Flash quilt together.

Yes, I did complete all the piecing onto paper. All the blocks are done, trimmed, and ready to assemble. 

These won't actually be sewn together, as they fit into other blocks that are part of the 12 main blocks in the quilt.

But I had to see how they look together!

I'm really liking the background fabric. I think it will look really good when it's all done. At least, assuming the streaks and splotches line up in some sort of coherent order.

These are the four corners of the quilt.  I had some serious doubts about these pieces when I had sewn the first couple of sections, but they're going to work.

The dark points will blend into the border, which will be that same dark fabric.  I had a few adventures with these pieces--apparently I was really really tired of cutting when I got to them, because there weren't nearly enough of any of them cut! I had to get out some scraps and cut a couple of new strips to get enough. I just hope that there's enough for the border!

 Here's yet another set of star points, laid out to see how they look. Some of the dark contrast points could have been darker--I hope they will look all right when they're pieced together.

Anyway, I've been having allergy problems especially with my eyes, itchy and red and irritated (not helped I'm sure by a couple of aggressively friendly cats) and I wanted a break before the fiddly piecing involved in assembling the quilt top.
 Speaking of aggressive cats... here's Ethel trying to sew her binding under the watchful eye of The Supervisor.  I think he decided she was doing it correctly.

He did try to snatch her lunch, though, got into a real face-off and bought himself some time in Kitty Jail. Which is a suite of rooms, one of which is Shyla's cubby of choice. She's got a rug in there now and seems to really enjoy her den.

 Monday was not only St. Patrick's Day, it was our designated Dear Jane Monday, which seems to have devolved into a "let's do hand work, talk, and eat" kind of thing.  Ethel did bindings; I took advantage of the time to  trim all my paper pieces, then wove in all the ends on this afghan.

Finally, it is done done done. Chalk up a finish, although I think I had already marked it off on the sidebar when I finished the knitting. I was unsure about whether to run the ends in or add more pieces and call it fringe.

It's got a lot of mohair. No mohair fringe. Words to live by!
Anne finished binding her kitty quilt. You can see how large it is! 

The closeup will show you the cute fabric. Plus, she made the extra effort so that all her cats are facing in the same direction! Even the cats on the back (same fabric) are all going the same way.

 Dinner was the traditional corned beef and cabbage. It was really delicious! We all had the same reaction--why don't we cook meals like this more often? I used the crockpot and it was super easy!
 My last project for the day was the binding on the Chicopee quilt, which is now completed. Yay for finishing!! Of course I immediately picked up another quilt and started working on the binding for it.

Idle hands and all that.

I don't normally have a bed in my lving room, but a friend is staying with me for a week and that's an airbed. Less "traffic' in the living room makes it a little more pleasant place to sleep!
I'll leave you with a picture of my work area, awash in pastels. Very springy! We'll see how far I get with these--can't really assemble them until I find the white fabric for the setting triangles, and decide what to do about the borders.

Oh well. I'm thinking of this as a "palate cleanser" before tackling the assembly of the Jumping Jax!!