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

 

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.

 

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

 

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.

 

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

 

Life and Quilts

Life and Quilts

As the clouds roll in and the nights get chilly, winter can’t be far away.  While winter is officially about six weeks out, sweaters and boots are already in the rotation.  Right now, some trees are still full of yellowing leaves, some are looking sparse and others are already bare.  It’s that weird in-between time when sun, rain, warmer temps and a cold wind can all happen on the same day.  So layer up kids, ’cause anything could happen.

I’m facing an interesting challenge right at the moment.  It seems that one wall of the house needs serious work due to some leakage and that includes one wall of the studio.  In order to get that done, everything in the studio had to be 4-5 feet from that wall.

What this means is that I’m now sewing in a seriously confined space.  It forces me to be tidier and (somewhat) cool with a less efficient set-up.

If the above picture makes you cringe, you’re in good company.

It also means that things must be folded and put away as I go, which is not my usual MO.  I tend to just toss things on a chair or the floor until a project is finished.  That habit is a no-go in the current situation.  It also is making me rethink how I want to change things up as I get the rest of my space back in three or four weeks.  There is also lots of pounding and sawing going on right outside my window.  Luckily, this doesn’t really bother me.  It’s just life happening.

I’m making a quilt for a dear friend who I worked with for 15 years.  I decided to go through my files of saved pictures and patterns from quilting magazines and found the perfect thing right away.  I already had some of the perfect fabrics and had to fill in a few colors.  I cut the pieces as noted in the directions and as I’m sewing the pieces together, I realize that the 34 cut pieces of blue really need to be 68 cut pieces of blue.  Luckily, I always buy a little more fabric than the pattern calls for so it’ll be okay.  The truth is that whatever magazine this came from probably published a correction the following month.  The other truth is that I tear stuff out and file it and maybe come back to it years later (in this case 12 years later).  So here’s the lesson:  Read through the pattern and cutting directions.  If the numbers or fabric amounts don’t seem right, refigure.  Also, a little extra fabric is cheaper than going back to the store or hunting down more online.  I understand that magazines are on deadlines and mistakes can slip through the cracks.  Our challenge is to figure out a way around the issues.

 

If I make 17 of these blocks, I need 68 blue pieces.  Got lucky this time.  Next time I’ll look closer at the numbers in the pattern.  The doggies in the center are from a Laurel Burch collection from some years ago.  I have learned over the years that if I find some really special fabric that I totally love but don’t know how I’ll use, buy a bunch!

Feeling a time crunch coming on before the holidays?  Try something smaller and non-anxiety inducing.  These patterns are on special this month for 20% off.

Setting an Autum Table

Setting an Autumn Table

 

 

 

Santa Says Hi

 

We’re bringing the newsletter back after a long vacation.  Sign up on our Home page to get more quilting information, book reviews and tips.  Also, we’d love to hear from you, so email us at  motheronabroomstick@gmail.com

Quilt for FUN!

Candy

 

 

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

 

 

Is It Dog Days Yet?

Is It Dog Days Yet?

It’s hard to believe that it’s already August.  Now that we’ve survived the great Northwest Heatwave, we are enjoying low 90’s and smoky  weather – warmer than average and cooler than last week   I’m not complaining, mostly because I whined all winter about how cold and snowy and rainy it was.  The only upside of the smoke is the colorful sunrises and sunsets it makes.

I’ve been dividing my hot afternoons between quilting “Snapshots,” piecing a Jacqueline de Jonge kit called “Enchanting Stars,” and painting a decoration for Halloween.

“Snapshots” won’t have fancy quilting as it would just disappear.  It just got kind of big so will take a bit of time to quilt.

I bought the “Enchanting Stars” kit when I went to the Quilt Show in Houston a couple (or was it three?) years ago.  When I got home and opened the kit and got a look at the instruction book, I kind of panicked and put it away.  Now that my calmer self is in charge (for the moment) I’m starting to cut and piece.  The trick is not to try to take it all in at once, but to go step by step and not hurry.  This is what I’ve done so far.

This is going to take a while, and I’m enjoying it.

Finally, I’ve spent time in my cool, cool basement working on this project.  It’s not quite finished, but you get the idea.

I’ve been doing decorative painting activities off and on for about 40 years and while I haven’t done original designs, I find it calming to work on projects like this.

Since the begonias live in the shade, they did pretty well in the heat.  One of them makes flowers that look like this.

I’d love to figure out how to piece a thing like this.  Maybe painting it on fabric would be the way to go.

The summer squashes, cucumbers and peppers are doing great.  The tomatoes are taking their sweet time.  Looks like the “farmette” will be active well into fall.  Naturally, the salsa garden ingredients ripen at different times.  The peppers will have to be chopped and frozen since I already have a bunch.

We’re only about ten days away from the solar eclipse.  Oregon is getting ready for a pretty big influx of sky watchers.  The total eclipse will be visible about 40 miles south of here for about two minutes.  Sweet Husband and I are probably going to sit on our front porch and make do with a not-quite-total eclipse.  I’ve only seen one before and it was a bit eerie and very cool.

I’m re-dedicating myself to a regular newsletter.  Among the things we’ll be talking about are tools ( I love gadgets and sometimes I actually use ’em), and the books, magazines, and techniques that I’m finding inspiring or helpful. Because the newsletter is emailed, you have to sign up for it.  Nobody wants unasked for email less than I.  It’s easy and free to sign up at the top right corner of this blog.

This quilt is one I just love for fall.  It’s actually easy to put together.  It’s on sale for the rest of August, so check it out on the shopping page.

And the dog days?  Apparently it has less to do with an actual dog, like Ella, peeking around the corner, below, than it does with the constellation Canis Major and the star Sirius, which marks his nose.  For our canines, late summer is more about laying around in air conditioning.  Also participating in the neighborhood twilight bark.  The dog friends are actually kind of a gossipy bunch.

 

Stay cool and keep quilting 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