A Finishing Month

A Finishing Month

I recently read that the Northwest has two false springs before the real one kicks in.  This is true.  And spring itself is a bit iffy.  One day can include sun, warmth, clouds, a chilly rain, maybe some wind and hail, and then sun again.  This same post also mentioned summer, also known here as road construction.  But that’s a whole other story.  I just ran out and took some pictures of the sunshine.  Then I sat out in the sun for a few minutes.  Real Oregonians do not waste sunshine.

That poor rosemary had a tough winter.  It’s hardy, though and has already worked its charm on a chicken recipe.  This is the first day that any tulips have opened up and I’m loving the look.

I finished and washed “Sewist’s Delight.”  It needs blocking, but I’m not convinced it’ll help a great deal.  I like the colors and design.  But the quilting experiment was definitely a bust.  And so, another lesson is learned.

   

 

I’m hoping to get back in my old sewing space in April.  The space I’m using is fine, but it just feels off.  I’m seriously thinking of making April a finishing month.  I’m sure I’ve mentioned that I’m a great starter so taking some time to finish would do two things: one, some UFOs will be dealt with and two, new ideas will come really fast.  It’s a bit like the dogs who want to be somewhere they’re not.  In truth, there will still be lots of UFOs on May 1, just fewer.

Our next newsletter will be out in a couple of weeks.  It’s easy to sign up at the top right of this page.

When the sun comes out, run out and enjoy it.  Sniff some hyacinths – that aroma is the very essence of spring.  Then, work on a springy quilt.  Check our shopping page for ideas.

Quilt for Fun!

Candy

 

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Something Springy

Something Springy

Spring is  here.  We know this in the Northwest because we’ll have a sunny and 70 degree day followed by a rainy 50 degree day followed by a dry, mixed sun and clouds day.  It’s confusing, mostly because whatever I choose to wear, it’ll be either not warm enough or not cool enough.  The trick here is layers.  Lots of layers.  BTW, these hyacinths smell lovely.

A couple of weeks ago AQS had a book sale.  The quilt library is already stuffed, but there’s always room for one (or four) more.  My biggest problem is that I want to do ALL the quilts.  Time is a bit of an issue here.  The good news is that no matter what, I’ll never be bored.  The big question is, what do I do next?

“Sewist’s Delight” has the quilting finished and the binding attached.  This one comes under the heading “better finished than perfect.”  I like the idea of the quilting better than the reality.  If I were to do it again, I would quilt each of the four big blocks individually and then put them together.  I’ve done this before with some large projects and it would’ve been more appropriate for this one.

The narrow quilting went fine within each block, but got kind of hairy between the blocks.  Live & learn.  The plan now is to finish the binding and wash the quilt.  A bit of shrinkage may help the overall look or make it way worse.  Only one way to find out.

One of my spring favorites is “Tulip Field.”  The pattern is on sale through the end of April for $9.00.  Treat yourself when the taxes are done.  Or any time, really.  Click on the shop button and have some fun.

 

There are actually tulip fields not far from here.  I haven’t visited them in a couple of years and it’s about time.  As soon as they’re seriously blooming, I’ll take a field trip.

Quilt for Fun!

Candy

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On the Job Training

On the Job Training

It’s a sunny day!  Thank you Mother Nature, I needed that.  Spring may come after all.

Taking a shortcut sometimes comes back to bite one.  Last weekend, I was the one bitten.  On small quilts like “Sewist’s Delight” I don’t do any kind of basting.  The cotton tops and backs generally stick to the batting (except for wool) pretty well and I get good results.  Enter Sewist’s Delight and my idea to do straight line quilting in the dark blue parts.

I would be the first to tell you that straight lines are challenging, even with a walking foot.  Fabric, by its very nature moves no matter what.  Basting only controls that to a certain degree.  Knowing this going in helped me to not expect absolute perfection.  I decided that the best way to do this project was to do one quarter at a time, starting with the inner blue border and moving on to the outer blue border.  The blue inner border was okay, but it didn’t have very sharp corners.

The blue on blue quilting doesn’t show it it the picture, but it bugged me.  So I got out my chalk pencil and ruler and drew myself some lines so I would have sharp corners that all lined up.  I should also mention that when I do straight line quilting, I lengthen my machine stitch a bit.  I like the look and more importantly, if, heaven forbid, I have to take stitches out I won’t need a microscope.

I went on to do the outer border and pretty much congratulated myself on being so clever.  This is where I probably jinxed it.  I smoothed out the next block and quilted the inner border and started on the outer one.  I very soon realized that I hadn’t smoothed enough from the first block to this one and there was more fabric than could be quilted out.

This turn of events was NOT amusing.  I spent the next two hours taking out the eleven rows of stitching on the inside border and the three rows I’d completed on the outer border.  The next thing I tried was safety pinning.  I would probably never do this on a larger scale, but I needed to hold the next block a little tighter.

The whole thing didn’t need pinning, but I needed to be sure I was starting out right on the inner border.  This worked much better, if not perfectly.

For the next 2 blocks I’m using spray adhesive.  I may also use some pins.  While I’m not a raging perfectionist, I do have standards.  I’ll let you know how it turns out.  To be continued.

On another front we’re realizing more and more how important tools are to quilting.  A new page will be added to this website to highlight the tools we’ve loved and maybe a few we wish we’d left at the store.  Tools are pretty personal.  What we love, you might find useless.  With this in mind, we invite you to tell us about the tools you love (and hate).  We’d like to pass this info on to others.  Most of our favorites have been suggested to us by other quilters and have become basics in our quilting toolbox.

While you’re here, sign up for our monthly newsletter, above, right.  Then click on the shop button to see our quilt patterns.

To sunny days and open windows!

Quilt for fun!

Candy

 

 

 

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The Refresher Course

The Refresher Course

This greeted us this morning.  It’s not really sticking.  Right now it’s mostly just blowing around.  I think the same flakes are just blowing back and forth across  my window.  Guess it’s still winter for another month or so.

You learn something new from every class, even if the class turns out not to be your thing.  We hear this all the time, mainly because it’s true.  And not just for quilting.  Last week I took a three day art class that was a lot of review.  It was great!  I tend to get so wound up in how I want something to turn out that I forget the basic lessons.  One of those for watercolor is to let the paint do what it’s going to do.  Watercolor is not for control freaks.  What you think you want tends to be more of a suggestion.  For drawing, it’s putting down what you see, not what you think you should see.

None of these things are new lessons for me.  I’ve taken drawing and watercolor classes before.  The truth is that sometimes we all have to take a step back and relearn the basics.  One more time.  And then again later.  And maybe next year.  Same goes for quilting.  Every once in a while it’s good to remember to cut and sew accurately.  Review a Sally Collins book.  Slow down, take a deep breath and remember the basics.

The biggest problem with art classes is they make me want to just hang around and play with my art toys.  So I do.

I started to quilt on what I think I’m going to call “Sewist’s Delight.”

(The fabrics in the centers are prints about sewing.)  Naturally, I don’t have enough of the dark blue thread so I’ll have to get back to it in a few days.  It’s not like I don’t have a dozen more things to work on.

The Frosty Day pattern (above) is ready and will be added to the shopping page.  It’s a 3, 6, 9 pattern so the blocks are basic and give you the freedom to make it yours.  There’s still some winter left.

We invite you to sign up for our newsletter which we send every month or so.  One is coming up soon and we’d love to hear what you think.

Stay warm and Quilt For Fun!

Candy

 

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Working with Scraps

Working with Scraps

We’ve been having dry and partly sunny weather and tulips are coming up. And the crocus are flowering.

I even went next door to sniff my neighbor’s daphne. (They know about it.) This makes me want to start planting things.  I want flowers and veggies and . . . wait a minute! It’s the second week of February.  There’s still time for a lot of weather before real spring starts.  At least it’s still light at 5:30 pm and that’s really nice.

You may remember a photo I posted here last week.

At some point I just couldn’t bear to throw out “reasonable” sized strips.  Some years ago I made this with leftover strips.

I haven’t done that for a while and I might make another one, but not this month.  So I decided to take my own advice and do something about the strips.  Here’s what I got.

I picked greens, yellows and a few dark blues and just started sewing strips together.  I didn’t worry about how straight the strips were – some are really straight and others are wonky.  The ones that were too wide I sliced in two with a rotary cutter but no ruler. The only thing I was careful about was cutting 8½-inch squares to make it easy to sew together.  The binding will be dark blue.  My only regret is that it didn’t make as big an impact on my scraps as I’d hoped.  I think this will be a great way to play with color combinations.

At 40 X 48 inches this would make a good baby or toddler quilt or just a bright hanging.  It speaks to me of spring, which is always good.

On a completely different subject, here’s a picture of Ella Puppaccino Face. She got this treat after her checkup at the vet’s.  And yes, we saved some for Toby.

For the next three days, I’m taking a class at Art & Soul, Portland.  It’s not about quilting and that’s a good thing.  I really think that any art or craft class helps with quilting design and decisions.  The sewing machine may be lonely for a few days, but I will return with lots of enthusiasm.

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Quilt for Fun

Candy

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Fooled by Mother Nature

Fooled by Mother Nature

The weather is pretending to be spring-like and bulbs are coming up early.  We can only hope it’s not too early.  It won’t be funny if they get frostbitten.  Here’s our first crocus volunteer.

In the upper left you can see some very early tulips.  They may regret not staying cozy underground for a few more weeks.

I don’t even know what this guy’s story is.  It usually blooms in the late summer and early fall.

The forecast called for a dry and cold winter and Mother Nature has fooled us again.  We’ve had plenty of rain and very few freezing nights.  I wouldn’t mind a bit more sun.  The thing about weather is that you get what you get.

The three-week house repair has now entered month four.  Because of work being done on the studio corner of the house (including jackhammering on Wednesday), the sewing table has been temporarily moved to Barb’s old space.  Her new house has room for her studio and most of her things are moved out of my house.  While I’ll miss having her working here, this arrangement is much more efficient.

 

The personal challenge quilt is all pieced together and ready to quilt.  I ran out of the original orange color and substituted one from my stash.  They look more alike in person than in the picture.

Which brings me to a couple of interesting color facts that I knew, but got some real reminders of this week.  The house project affected two rooms that had wallpaper in them.  The paper in my son’s rooms is about 20 years old and still looks good, but of course we didn’t have enough leftovers for the affected wall and that exact thing is no longer available.  So that wall will have a coordinating color.  The dining room has the same problem, so we decided to find wallpaper that coordinated with the border, which has a bamboo design.  Grasscloth comes in a million colors so what could go wrong?

I didn’t have a scrap of that border which went up 28 years ago, so I matched the color in my Joen Wolfram color palette and took a picture of the  border.  I brought home a sample that seemed very close in the wallpaper store.  Let me just say that it was way off.  I can easily get a green that’s too yellow or one that’s too blue.  The lesson relearned is that colors in photos don’t tell the whole story.  Also, ink and dye will never match.  And lastly, they don’t make that color this year.  Oh, and the light at the wallpaper store is nothing like the light in my dining room.  This old house is about to push me over the falls.  I would post a picture, but all the living room furniture is stuffed into the dining room while repairs happen and there’s no way to actually get a decent shot of the wall.

The good news of all this is that Sweet Husband and I are both in the mood to declutter.  We’ve lived in this house for 28 years and it appears that we’ve saved WAY too much junk.  From pictures that haven’t been hung up since 1979 to cookbooks that I never use, we have it all.  And then there’s fabric.  I can’t even go there in my head.  I’ve saved lots of little pieces that were too big to throw away (at least in my fevered brain).  I think there’s a scrap quilt or 80 in my future.

There are three small drawers like this with different widths of strips.  I’d better get on it before I hit hoarder status.

Now, back to the sewing machine.

Quilt for fun!

Candy

 

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The Personal Challenge

The Personal Challenge

One of the most interesting and educational things we quilters can do is the personal challenge.  The challenge can be a single project or a long term thing.  When we give ourselves a test that includes limitations on palette, size, time or whatever other boundaries we think up, we make ourselves imagine outside our box.  There are so many cool techniques and ideas and patterns out there, that we could quilt for a lifetime without really testing our boundaries.  Pushing ourselves into unfamiliar territory is a bit off-putting, yet it is the door to being better artists and better quilters.

Last summer I bought an odds and ends package with these fabrics in them.

 

There are good sized chunks of some and fairly small pieces of others.  These are fabrics I wouldn’t normally buy, much less buy together.  But there was something about them that called to me.

After looking at ideas I have saved and filed for some years, I added a solid and winnowed the above fabrics down to these.

Sadly, there’s not much orange and I will either add some of a similar orange from my stash or consider adding the red from the original group. I will not buy anything more.  Tough talk, I know.  That’s the challenge.  I can do this.

So far, this is what I have.

The carpet background is not my favorite; my design wall is currently inaccessible.  I plan on making three more blocks and calling it finished.  This plan has led to the thinking up of a couple more quilt designs.  Can’t wait to try them out.

The “Frosty Days” pattern is finished and will be available at the end of the week.  Check back for details.

And finally, Toby and Ella accompanied Sweet Husband and me to my mother’s last weekend.  “Nana” is a big fan of the dogs and looks forward to their visits.  Sweet Husband does some odds and ends around the house and sometimes some bigger projects.  The original parts of Nana’s house are over 100 years old, so there’s always something.

Toby naps, gives driving directions and asks for Sweet Husband to share his chicken tenders.  Ella just stares out the window for however many hours it takes to get where we’re going.  She does not take time out for photo ops.  So Toby brings all his cuteness to the camera without interruption.

Stay in touch!

Challenge yourself and quilt for fun.

Candy

 

PS  It’s raining.  Again.  Please send sunshine.

 

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

This year is starting out with a bang.  Sweet Husband and I have spent chunks of this week helping Barb move into her new house.  We got lucky with the weather – mostly dry and sunny. It’ll be great when she gets everything unpacked, sorted out and put away.  For now it’s a bit chaotic.  Whether you move next door or to another continent, it’s about the same amount of trouble.  Between that and the updating we’re doing on our own house, my quilting plans for this week pretty much got put back a week.  Such is real life.

I’m thinking about quilting goals for 2018, and this year I’m taking a shot at realistic plans.  If I can do more than I planned, that’s great.  I just don’t want to be annoyed with myself if (when) I fall short of goals that could only have been accomplished with the aid of a miracle.  I have enough good UFO’s and ideas for new things to keep me busy.  As always, I’ll make a list and then pare it down to be more realistic.  Quilting is kind of like going to a buffet where my eyes are always bigger than my stomach.  In this case, I like almost all the quilt ideas I see, and all the fabric, and all the notions.  I could use most of them if I didn’t have anything else in my life.  There are a LOT of other things in my life.  So the final plan is to be as efficient as possible and enjoy everyone in my life.

My studio still looks like this:

It will probably be like that for another month.  Just out of the picture to the right is a plastic wall that I have to sneak by to get to the cutting table.  The long and short of it is, it takes more time to find things, and I trip a lot.  Now to collect my perseverance and stubborn qualities to just go in there and get it done.

My son and daughter-in-law (aka Dan and the lovely Catherine) sent me these scissors for Christmas and they are wonderful.  They are Tim Holtz Non-stick Micro Serrated Scissors from Tonic Studios.  I love them because, not only are they sharp, they have big handles that don’t mess with arthritic fingers.  This pair is 7 inches long (2″ blades) and also come in 5-inch scissors and 9 ½ inch shears.  They are available on Amazon and Blitsy and probably lots of other places.

I used them to cut out the wool pieces for this cute project:

It’s not finished (big surprise), and I’m not putting it away until it is.  I will stitch the pieces down while I watch TV and it’ll be all ready for next year.  I love old pickups, so this project has a special place in my heart.

For those of you who are having a very wintry winter, stay warm.  For the rest of us, stay warm and do not gloat.  It’s not nice to tease Mother Nature.  The longer our snow shovel remains hanging in the garage, the better.

Keep quilting for fun!

Candy

 

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This and That

This and That

I simply cannot believe it’s mid-December.  For one thing, we’ve had over a week of sunny (and cold) weather.  It’s probably going to rain over the weekend and then get nice again.  The Farmer’s Almanac calls for a cold and dry winter followed by a hot, wet summer.  Not our usual MO.  What I find interesting is the plant life that continues to survive.  The alyssum is still blooming a bit which makes the deck look a little less desolate.

 The hydrangea mostly looks like this picture on the left.  It also produced one little flower last week, on the right.

We are currently into week 6 of our 3-week house fix.  Yes, you read that right.

This is Maynard.  He’s boxed in behind the dining room table so that a chunk of wall could be replaced.  He screams so I don’t have to.  I do feel lucky that all the guys who’ve worked on this project have been really nice.  I decided to give up dusting until they’re finished.  Talk about your exercise in futility!  The dust will likely be measurable by the time this project is over, and right at the moment, I just can’t work myself up to caring.  I’d rather sew than dust anyway.  (Please don’t tell my mother.) (As if she doesn’t know.)

I’m working on the pattern for Frosty Days.  I’m also making another Frosty as I go along to make sure the instructions say what I think they do.  It’ll have a more controlled palette than the one below.  Apparently, not everyone wants all the colors all the time.

We’re starting to plan for the new year.  If you are, too, let us know what you might like to see in this space.  Also, sign up for our monthly newsletter.  We’ll be talking a lot about domestic machine quilting in the coming months.  The sign-up space is on the upper right side of this page.

Whatever you celebrate during these short, dark days we wish you all happiness.

 

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On a Foggy Morning

On a Foggy Morning

We’re enjoying a rain-free, kinda sunny morning.  Any sunshine in late fall or winter is a big deal here.  I took this picture this morning outside my studio.

It was really foggy earlier, leaving little droplets everywhere.  We haven’t had many spiders this year so this web was a beautiful surprise.

In other news, we’ve restarted our monthly newsletter.  It will include reviews of quilting books that we’ve found inspirational and educational.  We’ll also include some practical information and photos for quilting on your home machine.  It’s actually really easy to sign up for the newsletter.  Just look to the right of this post for spaces for your name and email address.  If you have questions, just let us know at  motheronabroomstick@gmail.com

This week I’ll be putting out and hanging up my Christmas quilts.  The newest addition to the Christmas collection is “Snapshots: Christmas.”  How quickly it gets quilted is dependent upon how much wall replacement happens in my studio.  Barb’s studio space will definitely be affected.  The guys who are working on it are great.  It’s the noise that I find really distracting and headache inducing.  There is one really loud and whiny power tool that has led me to understand where head bangers come from.

Are you making gifts this year?  If so, we’d love to see pictures and hear about  your projects.  You can email us or post on our Facebook page.  If you decorate with quilts, we love to see those, too.

This little wool project was from a pattern I bought some years ago at the Northwest Quilting Expo.  I just love it and it’s so me, especially when I’ve bought a bunch of fabric.  This is the perfect time of year to cozy up to the fire and do some relaxing handwork.

With winter fast approaching, I always think we need some color to offset the brown of sleeping trees and the grays of fog and storm clouds.  With that in mind, our next pattern will look very much like this:

I like it for a wall hanging or maybe a winter baby.  This pattern will be ready by mid-December so you can add some sparkle to your January.

Have a great week.  Give yourself a break and quilt for fun!

Candy

 

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