Thinking Ahead

Thinking Ahead

After some cool and rainy weather, our usual fall is back.  We still have leaves on the trees (at least for a while) and the mums are about to bloom.  The tomatoes didn’t come up to expectations, but we’ll have some green ones to fry up.  If you’ve heard the old phrase about looking like (or feeling like) the last rose of summer, you likely have a good idea what my once lovely potted flowers look like.  In a couple of weeks, decorating for Halloween will be in full swing.  I have something new for the front yard that I’m dying to try out.

Toby and Ella are not really ready for cooler weather.  The problem is not the temperature outside on these chilly mornings, but having the door  closed so they can’t be both inside and out.  Here they are with cousin Finn, a young labradoodle,  who came for a visit with my son and daughter-in-law.  He’s such a cute little guy and everyone gets along.

Somebody mentioned on Facebook that there were only 92 days until Christmas.  And we wonder why people get stressed.  Barb tells me there are some Christmas trees up in the mall.  Seriously?  Internet gift shopping, here I come. So this is my one and only very early reminder.  Here are some pictures of our patterns that were designed with Christmas in mind.

“Santa Says Hi”

 

This is “Starshine Runner” in a different color combo than the one on the Shopping Page.  Just add or subtract blocks to fit your table. If you’re looking for a larger quilt, make the blocks bigger and go for a bigger project with same blocks.

Now, let’s get those imaginations in gear.  This is “Snapshots” suing some leftover Laurel Burch prints.  I’ll post again when it’s quilted .

And for a quick one, how about “Falling for Halloween” in Christmas fabrics.

Fall Into Halloween

This one would be REALLY easy if you have a Christmas or winter stripe.

 

Mother Goes Mod

How about “Mother Goes Mod” with a Holiday layer cake?

 

I just bet you have some Christmas, Holiday, or Winter fabrics that would work in these or other patterns.  Make them larger or smaller or out of snuggly flannel for the little ones.  We (especially Barb) often use patterns as just a jumping off place.  And don’t forget, we’d love to see what you make out of our patterns.

I’m also seeing some Thanksgiving themed fabrics.  There’s time for a runner or some placemats.

Don’t think that I’m giving Halloween short shrift this year.  It’s me, remember?  Those fabrics are about to go on sale!

For those of you in the Portland, OR area (sorry Portland, ME), the Quilting Expo is coming up this weekend and in a moment of shameless self-promotion, let me ask you to check out the quilts of Friends on the Edge.  It’s a collaboration between two small quilt groups and we had so much fun making our quilts.  I’m a huge fan of small quilt groups as we not only challenge each other and improve our skills and test our imaginations, but build the sweetest friendships.  The show is at the Portland Expo Center on September 28,29, and 30.  There will be lots of quilts and vendors.  Wear sensible shoes.

And don’t forget to quilt for fun!

Candy

 

When Life Gets in the Way

When Life Gets in the Way

The saying goes, “The best laid plans of mice and men . . .”  This is especially true when I think I have a few days in a row to quilt.  Then my sewing machine goes back to the shop.  Third time’s a charm.  (I’ve borrowed Barb’s machine, which is identical to mine, but it’s just not the same.)  Or when the pharmacy didn’t get the message and I have to go back.  There’s almost always a load to go in the washer or I forgot something at the grocery store or the dust is becoming measurable and I have to do something about it.  We spent a few days at my mom’s last week, taking care of old-house issues.  It’s the little things that throw our plans out of whack.

I have been working on a Be Colourful quilt, which as I surely have mentioned before, is going to take a while.  I’m all the way up to part B.

This project is taking some organizing tools I don’t generally use.  There are 24 bright batiks in the kit, so keeping them in order is actually a thing,

Look at the baskets, not the crazy in the background!  I’ve found that I can use a sharpie to put numbers on flower-head pins which helps me quite a lot.  And any help is good help.

I have a non-quilting question that I hope someone can answer.  My salsa garden is not as coordinated as one would hope.  The tomatoes aren’t ready yet, but the Anaheim Peppers, Banana Peppers and Jalapeños are going crazy.  What does one do with way more peppers than one needs?  I’ve chopped and frozen some, but they just keep coming!  Any help would be SO appreciated.

And speaking of crazy, the bumblebees are crazy about my California poppies.  They’re too busy to bother us and they’re fun to watch. If I could harness that energy . . .

We blew off Monday morning watching the eclipse.  We had only 98% totality.  Barb drove south a few miles to get the whole experience.  I must say that an eclipse is a little creepy, but very cool.  Apparently the worst part was the traffic afterwards that took on nightmare proportions.  Three hours for a drive that normally takes 20 minutes is more than frustrating.

I’m finding it hard to deal with the fact that summer is almost over.  Feels like it just started.  Although it’s cool and cloudy today, it’s supposed to by 98 by Monday, so naturally, school starts on Tuesday.  I remember the feeling so well.  Who would my teacher be and who would be in my room.  My grade school class was fairly large and we were divided into two classrooms.  We didn’t find out until we got there on the first day of school who our teacher was.  It was a bit stressful.  By high school, I looked forward to all the activities and worried less about the teachers and more about what to wear and how much fun the football games would be.  Somehow, I survived it all.

The “Autumn Sunset” quilt pattern is on sale for a few more days.  The background block is easy so you can concentrate on the changing colors.  It was fun to do and we hope you’ll enjoy it, too.  You can get the pattern by going to our Shopping page.

Have you started your fall projects yet? Thinking of Christmas and other Holiday projects?  No pressure.

Here’s wishing you a happy and safe end-of-summer.

Quilt for fun!

Candy

 

 

Deeply Into Summer

Deeply Into Summer

I walked into one of my favorite fabric stores today and right up front and center, what should I see?  Christmas Fabric.  And lots of it.  I’m not ready!  I get it.  If one is going to create some fabulous projects for Christmas (and I mean for 2017), one should probably start now.  I know that Christmas in July is a thing; it’s just not mine.  It kind of reminds me of back-to-school supplies on July 6 in the variety stores.  It’s just too soon.  There’s a fine line between WAY too early and a day late and a dollar short.

It did remind me, however, that it’s time to start Fall and Halloween projects.  The new fabric’s been out for weeks and I still have about a million yards from years gone by.  As I’ve said before, (at least I think so; okay, I’m pretty sure) the biggest problem with Fall and Halloween fabrics is that the prints are so cute, one (me) doesn’t want to cut them up into tiny pieces.  I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.  So, how about this?

The picture blocks finish at 5 X 7 inches, so it’s possible to use up some  smallish scraps of fun fabric.  It’s also layer cake friendly.  I’ve done some repeats on the quilt above, but if you stay in a somewhat limited palette, you could make all the pictures different.

And yes, it would be great with Christmas prints for the make-way-ahead crowd.

The plan is to have the pattern posted by Tuesday, August 1.

Today, I’ll pick my first tomatoes of the year.  The Sweet Million plant is really going to town.  There’s nothing like meaty, sweet tomatoes from your own yard.  Or Farmer’s Market tomatoes, fresh from someone else’s farm.

 

This is one of the top reasons I love summer.  Also, warm evenings, bare legs, the smell of newly cut hay, and fresh fruit.

So what’s on your quilting list for the week or the month?  Comment on the post, send us an email, include a picture.  We’d love to know what others are working on.  Share us with your quilting friends.  And, of course, keep quilting for fun.

Candy

 

Happy Hallowe’en

Happy Hallowe’en

This is what goes on around here at Hallowe’en.

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The “tombstone” at upper left fell over when we had some wind.  Naturally, the mums had been planted about three days before.  As you may have guessed, the center mum was never the same.

The very unfinished quilt top is all from the Hallowe’en stash.  When this is finished, I plan to go right to spring so I have some new things to show.

The little tree is decorated with fall ornaments I found at a quilt show some years ago.

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This picture is not all I’d hoped.  I took it panorama style and had to limit pixels to upload it.  It’s kind of cool, but it bends everything a little.  The table is actually a regular rectangle.  Mona and Maynard spend October having their moment at my dining room table.  The rest of the year they hang out in my office.

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And yes, this actually is in my yard.  The witch has been a Hallowe’en staple for some hard years, but she survives.

The sock is from a wool class I took years ago.  It just pleases me.

I think the last one is self explanatory.

 

Sadly, it’s slated to rain on the Trick or Treaters on Monday, but the weatherman has been wrong before and I can only hope the kids get a break.

Next time I’ll talk about actual quilting.  I have lots of new ideas to try out soon.

In the meantime, here’s Toby –

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“Only two more days until all the kids come to tell me how cute I am!”

Quilt for Fun and Happy Hallowe’en!

Candy

 

Halloween – Quilt for Fun

Halloween – Quilt for Fun

Yesterday was a nearly perfect example of a gorgeous fall day:  calm winds, cloudless blue sky and temperatures in the low 60’s.  It was the kind of day that I could’ve lived sixty times in a row.  Today is still warm and the morning was sunny.  Now high clouds are thickening up and we’re looking at a week of rain.  Swell.  The good news is that I will quilt more because I won’t be tempted to wander outside.

I made good use of lovely yesterday.  This is what 99 planted tulip and hibiscus bulbs look like.

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I’m actually kind of a fan of instant gratification, so next spring seems a long way off.  There are another 99 on the other side of the brick walk.  When they’re colorful and smell like spring, I’ll be glad I took the time to plant them.

About the only things left in the garden that are blooming are the dahlias.  They might be the showiest low-maintenance flower ever.

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I spent last weekend at my quilt guild’s fall retreat.  It’s a good way to get to know other quilters that you see every month, but never really get to talk to.  The retreat center has good food, nice people and a huge, well lit room to sew in.  Out the windows we see things like this:

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And this:

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Also, I didn’t have to let the dogs out, start dinner, or throw a load in the washer.  Always a fun weekend.  Did I finish anything?  Actually, no.  But I made some serious inroads.

Halloween has come to my house.  I used to do a lot of decorative painting.  I still do a little, but there is just not enough time to do it all.  I painted this from a pattern about 20 years ago.

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I have some postcards with similar images that are dated from the early 20th century.  They show lots of witches and jack-o-lanterns and black cats and tend to be more sweet than scary.  I love this holiday for lots of reasons, but mostly because it appeals to my inner eight-year-old.  This is the same child-woman who read Harry Potter books in record time.  The possibility of some magic is a feeling I hope I never lose.  We can all use a little magic in our lives.

If you’ve been living in a cave, you might not know that I have a pretty large stash of Halloween fabric.  In the spirit of denting it, just a little, I’ve started a quilt that I found in the Quilty Easy Modern Quilts magazine (Winter, 2016).  On page 66 a quilt called Giddy Gridlock is featured which told me it needed to be a Halloween quilt.  I have lots of cute prints that I don’t want to cut into tiny pieces and this looks like just the thing.  So here’s my start.

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Here’s to all of us who love out hats and boots and brooms!

Quilt for fun!

Candy

October Color

October Color

It rained here last night.  The kind of rain that actually gets down to the roots.  It’s cool and cloudy and that fall smell is in the air.  It’s a mixture of wet leaves, wet dirt and not enough sun.  In the “olden days,” there would also be burning leaves mixed in and although I totally support the idea of clean air, I do miss that smell in the fall.  There are still lots of leaves on the trees . . . well, some trees.IMG_1221   IMG_1220

Same parking lot, same day, two directions from where I was parked.  Apparently, not everyone is on the same schedule.

 

There is still color in the yard.  The dahlias are going strong and probably will for a few more weeks.  Love those guys.  The hydrangeas are doing their fall thing . . .

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Except for the one below that’s still the color that most of them were throughout the summer.

 

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I’ve never owned any hydrangeas until about two years ago.  Now I’d like a yard full.

And then there is alyssum and one little geranium (the tiny pink thing at the top) that’s trying to hang in.  I just put the ornamental peppers in as they add some much needed bright color.

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I finally got the binding finished on Autumn Sunset.  The pattern is ready and actually pretty easy.  The video on painting highlights and shadows is still on the to do list.  That project will be a learning experience for me.

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The painting part is completely optional.  I just like messing around with it.  The pattern is available over on the Shop page.

I went to the Quilting Expo in Portland last weekend.  There were lots of really great quilts and I took a bunch of pictures.  Sadly, none of them is very focused.  Usually my phone takes great pictures, but I suspect I did snapped and went so quickly that it didn’t have a chance to focus.  Here are a couple that aren’t too bad.

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I enjoyed how the spiral, above, is escaping the edges of the quilt.

Now that it’s October, I’m all about Halloween.  This week most of the decorations will go up.  The outdoor stuff will wait a couple of weeks.

 I dove into the Halloween stash and made this cutie.

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What no home should be without.  The perfect size for my rocking chair.

Drink some cider, eat a pumpkin scones and enjoy this colorful season.

Quilt for Fun!

Candy

Fall for New Beginnings

Fall for New Beginnings

I hope that you had a fun Labor Day Weekend.  Sunday and Monday were cool and cloudy here and while Barb and I planned to both can some tomatoes and freeze fresh peaches, the peach-freezing didn’t happen until this afternoon as the peaches were not ripe enough.  The whole process takes time, but there is just something about a taste of summer in December or January that is so special.

I think fall may be my favorite season of the year.  After the obligatory cool and humid weather of last week, we have sunshine and 80 degrees.  The reds and golds of autumn are right out my window and the nights are cool enough for good sleeping.  Even though it’s been a while (and then some) since we had anyone in school, fall seems like a beginning, a time to get organized and possibly some new shoes.

I find that I’m in the mood to clean up and make a list of my UFO’s.  It’s kind of like getting a new notebook and crayons for the first day of school.  (Remember the smell of floor wax and new crayons?) When I’m deeply into a project, I rarely stop to put things away.  The plan is to clean up after I finish the current project.  What really happens is that I get distracted by 1) taking a class that has nothing to do with what I’m currently working on, 2) the season changes and I’m no longer interested in what I was working on, but want to start something new, or 3) the sun comes out and I go outside and ignore the mess.  So every 2-3 months I need to haul my wandering mind into the present moment and create a neatness, which lowers the anxiety level and fools me into thinking I will get it all done.  Mostly, it’s the simple things:  throw away the empty starch can, put the rulers back in their assigned places, and refile the fabrics I took out to test and then didn’t use and didn’t put away.  Today I put a new cover on my ironing table and put away/threw away a few things that appeared to be nesting there.  It makes me feel tidy.

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(The thread spools on the window ledge were customized by Toby when he was a pup.  He managed to bite most of the way through so that there are few pieces that are longer than 12 inches.)  Even the small things give me the illusion of control.

The Northwest Quilting Expo is just around the corner and I’m ready to be newly inspired.  There is a lot of quilting talent in the Portland area and it’s fun to see what new things have been created.  There’s also a whole boatload of vendors to tickle the imagination and empty the wallet.  I can hardly wait.

Speaking of inspirations, the quilt I showed you last week needs just a couple more pieces appliquéd.

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Since I’m doing it by hand, it takes a while.  The colors in that quilt inspired me to go off on a little tangent of my own.

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I really liked the oranges, yellows and purples and found that I had some batiks with varying degrees of all those colors and went for a gradation in the background.  It’s made up of six-inch double square blocks and the pumpkin plant is fused on.  The plan is to have the pattern ready by late next week.  We can take pre-orders so it will go out as soon as possible.  This pattern will be mailed so that the appliqué pieces will be accurate.  We’ll send these first class (as opposed to mule train) so they’ll get to you fast.

All our Halloween patterns will be on sale through the 10th of October.  It’s about now that I think I have plenty of time for Halloween projects, but these autumn weeks are pretty full and go so fast, it’s good to get started now.

My tomato crop is kind of puny this year, but there’s plenty of zucchini.  Luckily, there are plenty of zucchini recipes out there:  zucchini bread, chocolate chip zucchini bread, chocolate wave zucchini bread and of course all-chocolate zucchini bread.  I’m even known to use it as a vegetable! Truly, about the only thing better than zucchini bread in all its variations is pumpkin bread.  It’s a shame I don’t like to make salad nearly as much as I like to bake.

Someone brown and furry (not to mention freshly groomed and wearing her new collar) is telling me it’s time to get her some dinner.  Just look at that cheesy smile.  Ella is not terribly subtle at the best of times and comes on pretty strong when it’s meal time, so I’d better get with it.

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I’ll work on the new pattern as fast as I can.

Quilt for fun!

Candy

Fall Days

Fall Days

There are too many fun things to do and not enough minutes to go around.  Just needed to get that out there.  Thank you for your patience.

For many years I’ve made lists.  Shopping lists, to-do lists, a packing list, Christmas list,  a list of the stuff that I forgot to write on another list.  Even my lists have lists.  Sometimes I mark stuff off and sometimes I just throw an old list away.  Usually they help me and other times they are a testament to what didn’t get done.  What I have not done is made a list of all the things I get finished.  Even if things get marked off, I can usually think of two things to replace it.  As we come up to the time of year when the lists get even longer, I’ve decided that I need a list of what I finished.  Just a date and what it was, like a quilt block, a blog, a book, a chore.  I think it might be uplifting to see a list of what I did in addition to the list of what is still undone.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

It’s the time of fall when the mornings are foggy and the afternoons warmish and sunny.

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While I’m not a big fan of dark and dreary days, there’s something quiet and mysterious about fog.

I have two “volunteer” tomato plants that are just now making tomatoes.  I’m not sure how great the ripe tomato will be but the green ones will be fabulous fried.  It certainly adds some color to a faded garden.

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Because I went to the International Quilt Show in Houston last year, I didn’t go crazy for Halloween.  This year I’m attempting to make up for it.

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This tree is about finished for the year, but the leaves that are left are the most beautiful colors.

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And here are a couple of our quilted Halloween favorites:

Fall Into Halloween

The quilt above is called Fall into Halloween.  It goes together pretty quickly and is big and snuggly.    The two dark stripes are pieced but two pieces of cool dark fabric would make very fast and easy.

HarrysHalloween

Harry’s Halloween was a fun way to whittle down my Halloween scraps.   Okay, it hardly made a dent.  I have enough Halloween fabric to wrap up the whole state.

Check out our shopping page for more Fall and Halloween ideas.

Quilt for fun.

Candy

 

 

 

Try, Try Again

Try, Try Again

It’s a beautiful, cloudless fall day, the kind that makes me think, “We don’t need any cold, wet winter.  Let’s just do this until spring.”  Okay, yes, we need winter.  But I’m going to enjoy the heck out of this while I can.  Also, sunny days make me more energetic so I need to take advantage of that.

On that note, I remade the very marginal winter cabin I put up last week to some thing I like much better.  It involved buying fabric because even though I have a big stash, it doesn’t always have what I need.

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So far it’s only been fused and I’m looking forward to adding some detail and quilting it.  The ultimate plan is to put a house block on each end of a runner and have the center be the fabric on the border of this block.  This way I won’t hide a block under the candles or flowers or whatever the centerpiece of the table might be.  It’ll probably be a week or so before this is finished as I have a couple of Halloween projects to finish.  I’ll show the block as I go along.

For those who are spider phobic, stop reading now and go to our Shopping Page.  We’d love for you to make one of our patterns and show us your work so we can show it on the Gallery Page.

So here’s the deal:  it’s fall and we have spiders.  They use my garden decor to anchor their webs and catch lots of bugs that I don’t really want in my house.  (It’s still warm enough to leave doors open for the dogs.)  The spiders are industrious little guys and there’s always the possibility of getting a neat picture of a web on a damp morning.

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This one has caught some dinner and seems to be doing a little repair work on the web.

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This big boy’s (or girl’s) web shows up a little better against the bricks.  Nothing currently caught in the web, but he doesn’t look like he waits to eat.  This concludes the bug portion of the blog.

Thank you for indulging my “Nature Moment.”

There’s still time for an Autumn themed quilt and we have some ideas for that on the Shopping Page.

If you have an idea for a quilt pattern you’d like us to create, let us know.

Ups and Downs

Ups and Downs

Earlier in the week I said I’d do a Holiday House block.  I did it and I’m not in love.  Think I’ll try it again with different fabrics.  (Fabric shopping – break my heart.) My stash is missing a couple of things, so I’ll fix that and see what happens.  Sometimes the first try doesn’t work out.  Such is life.

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This block is mostly fused as will be the improved 2.0.  I’d like it to be finished while I’m young.  I’ve had some agonizing run-ins with fusing, but have a new favorite.  Here’s what I’ve found.

Fusibles – fabulous and frustrating.  When you have lots of little pieces or not much time, it’s a great way to go.  The trick is to find a fusible that does it all.  And I ask a lot of fusibles.

1.  It should actually fuse.  If the fabric piece still ravels or falls off before being quilted, it’s not saving time or looking good.

2.  It should be reasonably easy to handle.  When the glue falls off the backing while you’re cutting it out, it’s all but useless.

3.  If it’s hard to sew through or too stiff, it may work well for some crafts, but doesn’t cut it for quilting.

4.  If for any reason it makes you want to weep openly, throw it away.  The few dollars you’ve “wasted” are not worth as much as your time and sanity.

I’ve been messing around with fusible for years.  I enjoy some hand appliqué, but it’s not ideal for some projects, especially those with a looming deadline or a million tiny pieces.  My current favorite is Steam-a-Seam 2.  Before you hit the “X”, let me assure you that I realize that SS2 has gone through some changes in the last couple of years, some of which did not have satisfactory results.  However, the newest version is a hit at my house.   The most annoying issues have been solved.  The adhesive has paper backing on both sides.  The plain side comes off easily.  The gridded side (that you draw on) stays attached to the adhesive until you take it off.  It’s sticky enough before fusing to stay where you put it, but is easily moved which is good for those of us who never put the piece in the right place the first time.  Once fused, it has a reasonably soft hand and is easy to sew over.

Most of our trees still have leaves, but this guy, in a local parking lot decided to be finished.

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Let’s not rush into winter; there’s still a lot of fall left to enjoy.

There are new specials on the pattern page.  See what you can whip up for fall.

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This was our first pattern and a sentimental favorite.  Love those fall colors.

As always, Quilt for Fun

Candy