Winter Sunshine

Winter Sunshine

Our little corner of the world is currently enjoying some winter sun.  And yes, it’s not officially winter for three more weeks.  Still, several days in a row of sunny weather anytime between the first of November and the end of March is a real thing here and I take advantage of it whenever I can.  This means I have more energy and there’s no excuse for not doing a couple of outdoor chores.  Yesterday it was mulching the hydrangeas that went in last spring.  The more mature ones are pretty hardy, but the first year plants don’t seem to care for a hard winter.  It will likely freeze overnight while we have sunny days, the price we pay for sunny winter days.

The last dahlia hangs in.

I’m working on two quilts for Christmas and while one will surely be finished on time, the one for Sweet Husband is giving me fits.  This never happens without a deadline.  The pattern was from a magazine and I cut the templates just right.  The only problem is that when the blocks go together, the lines don’t flow the way they’re shown in the pictures unless I take ½-inch seams.  This is why we get headaches. (Insert frustration scream here.)  The new plan is to finish the one I know I can get done, finish the blocks for the small quilt group that meets in two weeks and then hope to at least get the difficult top done before the big day.  This actually reminds me of my maternal grandmother who taught us to play gin rummy.  Grandma always reminded me that you have to be able to change your strategy in the middle of the game to win.  It turns out that Grandma was wiser than I used to think.  And yes, I should’ve started this earlier.

I’m sad to report that I sewed this many together before I realized the curved lines didn’t flow together!

I mentioned in my last blog that I had acquired something fun and here it is!

This machine was given to me by a friend who tells me that it belonged to her grandmother.  My friend no longer uses it and doesn’t really have room for it.  I wanted to buy it, but she was more concerned with the machine getting a good home.  All the cords need to be replaced and the cabinet needs a little love.  I haven’t had a chance to do any research on it and realistically, that might not happen until after the holidays.  The truth is that no matter what, I’m just tickled to own this older machine.

Ella is not above a photo bomb.

I’d love to see what others among you are sewing up this month.  You can respond on our Facebook page, Mother on a Broomstick or comment here.

Be sure to do some quilting for fun!

Candy

Enter Fall

Enter Fall

It suddenly feels like fall.  We had a little rain over the weekend and the air is clear and the sky blue.  The sun is out, but a little weaker and the evenings are cool.  I even put an extra quilt on the bed last night.  I’m hoping for some more warm sunny days to keep the tomatoes ripening up.

 We have one cucumber plant that must’ve produced more than 25 cucumbers.  I like cucumbers, but there is a limit to how much two people can eat.

Luckily, this one is still young enough to have very few seeds.  A couple that got away from me and I later found under the leaves were big enough to be classified as weaponry.  Given how dry the summer was and how fouled up our sprinkler system was for a while, I’m impressed.

I also have a bunch of dahlias.  I really love them because all you have to do is plant some bulbs in the spring and stake them up by midsummer.  And unless it’s a really harsh winter, they’ll come back bigger and better next year.  That’s my kind of low maintenance garden.

                                                                          

 

We’ve had one of those summers where the words, “Hi Honey, guess what broke today?” were too often spoken.  I’m glad to report that the refrigerator responded to a reboot, the sprinkler repair guy found the leak and got it fixed and the vacuum is working again.  My sewing machine is making a squeaking sound that makes my ears want to bleed.  I took it in last week and the tech tweaked a couple of things and sent it home with me.  It was not fixed.  Naturally, it didn’t make the sound when the tech was testing it.  This time, I’ve recorded the sound on my phone so he can hear it when I take it back tomorrow.  It’s this sort of stuff that makes me nuts.  Of course I have several tops I want to quilt this fall and I’m hoping we have a quick fix tomorrow.

This is one of my favorite quilts.  It’s called Pumpkin Blossom and came from a book called “Treats, No Tricks”  from Thimbleberries. I made it ten years ago and it still makes me smile.

The original in the book, didn’t call for such bright colors, but this is the perfect example of making a quilt from a pattern your own.  As you may have noticed, I tend to like livelier colors.  Making any quilt the way you want it to look is part of the joy and creativity of quilting.

I had a good time playing with my machine’s blanket stitch and some free-motion “seeds” in the flower centers.  Most of our machines have some cool stitches that we seldom, if ever, use.  I’m working on checking them out and using them when appropriate.

I rarely put up pictures of us, but I just got a kick out of this one of Barb and Ella.

Ella’s trying to convince Barb that nobody really loves her here.  That dog is really a piece of work, but she keeps my feet warm at night, so I guess we’ll keep her.

 

Please share us with your quilting buddies.  We’d love to hear from all of you.

Quilting for Fun,

Candy

 

 

One of Those Weeks and Something New

One of Those Weeks and Something New

SOMETHING NEW

We’ve added a new page to our site.  It’s called “What We Found.”  When we take a break and mess around on the internet, we sometimes find some really cool things that we can share.  AQS has planning pages on its website that can be shared on sites like ours.  The September one is already on our Something New page which will go up as soon as possible.  Until then, try this:

2018 AQS Creative Organizer: September

 

Ever have one of those weeks?  Sweet Husband’s car battery died, as did his (still under warranty) printer, not to mention the sprinklers that wouldn’t turn off.  The last thing was just too weird.  I unplugged the system and the water just kept coming.  SH finally turned off the valve to the whole sprinkler system.  Now my sewing machine is making a really horrible noise, but just sometimes.  (Insert a giant sigh here.)  Some weeks are just like that.

Our neighborhood is very quiet this afternoon as school started her a couple of days ago.  After a record-setting string of days in the 90’s, it’s a fall-like 65 today and the wild fire smoke has pretty much cleared out.  Summer went by so fast, I feel like I missed half of it.  Fall is often really beautiful here and I love the colors.  AND I have more time for quilting.

I’m currently quilting this one:

With the exception of the flowers, which I quilted from the front, I’m quilting from the “wrong” side, using the backing as a pattern.  This method works well (with the right backing) and allows my mind to wander off to new projects I want to start.  The original pattern is called “Autumn Sunset” and has been updated to include “Summer Sunrise.”

I need more minutes to do all the things that are in my head, not to mention the UFO pile.  There is just so much to learn and try, and so much fabric to do it with.

At this time of year, the local and regional produce is wonderful.  Yesterday, Barb and I peeled, sliced and froze a whole bunch of peaches.  We put a little sugar and Fruit Fresh on them and then bag ’em up and freeze ’em.  Come December and January, the taste of fresh peaches is just fabulous.  The only thing left to can this year is salsa.  Sweet Husband really likes it so we try to make enough for the whole year.  Oh, and apple sauce.  Guess I’m not as nearly finished as I thought.

With Labor Day weekend coming up, we want to wish you a safe and fun holiday!

Keep quilting for fun!

Candy

 

Ella’s Work

Ella’s Work

Ella is our eleven year old girl poodle.  She’s sweet and snuggly (especially with Barb) and a little bit pushy.  I’m told she was the boss of her litter and I believe it!  In colder weather, she sleeps on our bed, curled up at my feet, which is fabulous.  Also, any time is treat time and she’s not shy about reminding me of that.

However, it seems that when I spend too much time at the computer or sewing machine, she feels the need for a bigger statement.  Kind of like this:

Curiously, I don’t find this very amusing.  She’s also turned her teeth to my mother’s electric bill and a receipt from the vet.  The last one I get.  These are the times when she wonders if her last name might be dammit.  Ella is currently lying in the hall so that she can see in my office and down the front and back stairs.  Toby’s just sacked out next to me with his little piece of batting.  The Mother Goes Mod pattern has been reprinted and is ready to go.

Barb and I will be spending some days at my mother’s this week down in Southern Oregon.  We’re hoping that the recent cooler weather has helped with fires and smoke.  The climate there is significantly drier there than in the Willamette Valley so the fire danger is higher as is the chance of smoke inhalation.  I’ll sleep in my old bedroom and hang out where I grew up.  For Barb, it is the heart of the family since we moved a lot before she started middle school, but Nana and Jack were always in the same place.  The point of this is that if you order a pattern this week, it’ll go out next weekend.

This week I did some sewing, but also finished this:

:

I wish I could tell you that I drew it, but I’m not there yet.  I did, however, paint it.  I love the look of old pick-ups and this touched my heart.  When I win the lottery, I’ll get one.  I also confess that acrylic painting happens in my basement, mainly because if you splatter or spill, it stains for life.  Because it’s marvelously cool down there in the summer, it tends to call my name more than in the winter.

Our weather the last couple of days gave us a little taste of fall.  It really tried to rain, but Mother Nature just couldn’t quite do it.  A few misty little drops didn’t water the pots but managed to up the humidity.

This fall quilt will be on special for a couple of weeks.

AUTUMN LEAVES

One of the things that I like about this quilt is that it looks a lot more complex than it is.  If you don’t have a stash of fall fabrics, there’s lots to choose from right now.  If this picture looks too busy, it’s easy to tame it down with quieter fabric choices.  When you go to the Shopping page, it will automatically charge the sale price.

Whether you’d like summer to stretch out for a longer time or are eagerly awaiting the start of school and cooler weather, be sure to enjoy these last few weeks of Summer 2018.  Time flies by quickly, so enjoy the little moments.

Quilt for Fun!

Candy

 

 

 

To Plan and Replan

To Plan and Replan

Sometimes the best laid plans just get up and run away.  Last week was like that for me.  No matter how well I planned, things just happened.  Some things were wonderfully pleasant, like an overdue visit with a friend or a few hours on a boat floating around on the river.  I can always make room for stuff like that.  It’s getting to an appointment and hearing, “We’re running a little late today.”  Or, and this is my personal “favorite,””I know our email said your order would be here today, but actually it won’t be here until next Friday.”  In my mind I’m thinking, Thanks for the update.  That’s an hour I won’t get back. 

There were, however, some things I did get done.  The new Mother Goes Mod quilt, “Mod Halloween” is all pieced and the pattern has been updated.  I also made a couple of short help videos for the pattern that will be on the How To page.  Nothing in this pattern is actually complex, but I like to show as well as tell sometimes.

This quilt that generated so many ideas while I was making it.  I though it would be a great kid’s quilt with children’s prints or sports prints.  It could also be a great Christmas or other holiday quilt.  I love it for prints that are too cute to cut into tiny pieces.

The warm weather has really encouraged the vegetable garden.  The one cucumber plant has gone crazy.  If anybody has some good ideas for cucumber recipes, I will be eternally grateful.  The dahlias got in a bit late, but are starting to bloom and look lovely, as always.

 It’s a bit smokey today, but not bad compared to lots of other places.  The West has been so dry this year and we’ve had lots of fires.

And now, since I haven’t sewn in about two days, I must get at it before my head explodes!

Have a wonderful week and don’t forget to Quilt For Fun

Candy

PS

Please recommend us to your quilting friends and let them know about our Facebook Page.  The more, the merrier!

 

Summer Sunrise

Summer Sunrise

“Autumn Sunset” has a new sister quilt.  It’s called “Summer Sunrise.”

Just so we’re clear, I’m rarely up in time to see a summer sunrise.  The poppy is a simplified version of one that grows in my garden.  It’s a pretty tough customer as it was unplanted, divided and replanted several years ago. It was one of the few perennials that survived the winter of 2016-17.   I have no idea what this particular flower is called and I haven’t seen another one.  I just love it.

Some details will be added with quilting and possibly paint.  There is also an outside chance of embroidery, but that’s pretty iffy. This imaginary sunrise is a bit smaller than “Autumn Sunset.”  Same number of blocks, just a bit smaller.  A few things I’ve learned will be added to the pattern, along with block and cutting measurements for the new quilt.

I have an idea for one more background that would involve colors closer to each other on the color wheel.  I hadn’t really planned for this to be a series, but these projects tend to take on a life of their own.  So much for the illusion of control.

In preparation for an eventual downsize, I’m trying to thin the herd a bit.  We’ve lived in this house for almost 29 years and it’s appalling how much stuff we’ve managed to accumulate.  Most of the kid’s stuff is gone.  They’ve long since moved out, but we stored things for them for years.  As I begin to go through things, it seems I have an emotional bond with books, and art and craft materials.  Those things I’m putting off until last.  Oh, and kitchen gadgets.  I love to bake, but don’t really love general cooking.  For that reason I’m a sucker for anything that purports to make cooking easier.  I won’t even bore you with the quilting gadgets.  As you’ve doubtlessly gathered, this is going to be an interesting project.

Now that Barb has quilting space in her home, she is 1) realizing how much stuff she borrowed from me, and 2) how challenging it is to wrangle all her quilting stuff.  And remembering what you already have in the heat of shopping is a whole other drama.  Barb is now using Evernote to keep track of what she has and I am (slowly) following her lead.  Evernote is an app that lets you keep lists right where you can always get to them (on your phone) and even allows you to scan in pictures.  This means that I can scan in the lists I already have and then add to them as needed.  Since I nearly always have my phone with me, it’s easy to check to find out if I really need that new fancy-pants ruler that a quilt shop is demonstrating.  I have, on occasion, bought the same ruler twice, not to mention the same book.  The book list will go into the app too.  The basic app is free and well worth having.

The sun is finally out after a dreary, rainy weekend.  We really needed the rain as the 0.04″ of rain we’ve gotten in the last month wasn’t really cutting it.  Oregon had a lot of bad fires last summer and fall and we could use a year off.  All I need now is for Toby to stop barking at the squirrels and we would have a sweet peaceful summer.

My goal for the summer is to keep this lovely little begonia alive and quilt SO much.

Keep quilting for fun.

Candy

And Summer Begins

And Summer Begins

Is May getting away from you?  Welcome to the club.  The time is going so fast, I feel like I can’t keep up.  So my answer?  Take the week.  I did a little sewing, a little gardening and some general messing around last week.    I also took a couple of naps.  Except for Monday, I wasn’t very efficient.  I didn’t begin to get through my to-do list.  And guess what?  The world is still turning.  Yes, this week I’ll be catching up, and I’m ready for the challenge.

It actually looks like it’s snowing outside right now although the temperature is in the high 60’s. 

What we have here is cottonwood.  We have a couple weeks of this every spring.  These little fluffs get on the dogs, in the house and stuck in the screens.  Apparently about half of humanity is allergic to the stuff.  It’s kind of a mess, but it should be over soon.

Strawberry season is here and they’re marvelous! So far I’ve made strawberry pie, strawberry shortcake and strawberry/lime jam.  Barb and I did the jam last Saturday and we’re looking forward to raspberries and apricots as they both make fabulous jam.  I’m not fooling myself this year – summer will be busy and tasty.

    

A couple of weeks ago my small quilt group, Quilters on the Edge, had the reveal of our latest projects.  To see all the finished tops, you can go to Quilters on the Edge on Facebook.  We each made a center and sent it off to be added to by each of the other members of the group.  Seven of us participated.  We don’t get to see our own top until the last meeting.  I was so tickled with mine and want to show it off.

It’s cutting the line to be the next top quilted.

I’m already looking at my Halloween fabrics to decide what I’ll work on for this fall.  I have enough Halloween fabric to last for the rest of the 21st century.  I tell myself every year that I don’t need more and it’s so true.  Yet nearly every year some designer comes up with something I just have to own.  I’m sure this is a sign of something, but I honestly just don’t want to know.  I want to just wallow in the fabric.

Yesterday was Ella’s eleventh birthday.  She has no understanding that she should be a quiet, dignified older dog.  She runs up and down the stairs like a puppy and is known as “the instigator.”  If there’s trouble, she started it.  Happy birthday to forever young Ella!

Now I have to go work on the catching up part of my day.  Share us with your quilting friends and browse the rest of the site.

Quilt for Fun!

Candy

How Many Tools?

How Many Tools?

While I’m welcoming May, I’m still wondering what happened to April.  It just got away so fast!  If anyone knows, I’d love to hear.

Quick question:  How many quilting tools do you have that seemed like a great idea but turned out to be either useless or more trouble than they were worth?  A healthy number of mine were discovered at a quilt show vendor.  Whoever was demonstrating these clever gadgets made them look so easy and time-saving.  Not to mention just plain cool.  (Like my father before me, I love gadgets.  Just ask my kitchen drawers. They will rat me out in a heartbeat.)  The thing is that a few of them turned out to be great.  The rest are hard to part with because I paid good money for them and they really should work.  Or they used to work before the next cool thing came along.  Sound familiar?  So here are a couple of hints to review right before that impulse buy.

  1.  What do I use now that this new doodad will replace?  Do I really need to shave a half second off my cutting or sewing time?
  2. Ask the demonstrator to let you try it.
  3. Does it take time to set up?  If the answer is yes, will you really do that?  Be honest!
  4. Did your head spin when you heard the price?
  5. Step away from the table and think about it while you have a cup of tea or a donut.  Sometimes just getting away from the sales pressure gives you  some perspective.

In your heart, you already know this stuff.  The trick is to remember it at the right time.  Copy down the questions you need to ask yourself in your quilting notes, your phone or your bullet journal.

What I should have walked away from (even though it was a good deal):

  1.  The rolling ruler.  Seemed like a good idea.  In reality, not so much.
  2. Another magazine subscription.  Because I don’t have enough.
  3. Any ruler that only does one thing.

Sometimes the simplest tools work the best.  What I would have a hard time living without are my tweezers.

  The bottom pair has a really tiny tip which is great for grabbing that bobbin thread and pulling it up when quilting.  The top pair is perfect for picking out threads from unsewn seams or bits of fabric or thread or batting that seem to be drawn to dark fabric.  Not fancy, but really useful.

I’m putting the binding on “Birds Heading Home.”  It was my UFO project for April that turned out to be more labor intensive than I thought it would be.  Nearly all the quilting lines are about ¼ inch apart.  It wasn’t difficult, just time-consuming.  I really should’ve seen this coming.

If anyone knows how to stop time for a couple hours a day to get more quilting in, let me know.

Our newsletter will come out at the end of the week.  The sign up is at the top right of this page.

Even though the sun is out, at least in theory, and the weeds and flower pots are waiting, there’s alway some quilting to do.  So be sure to get some fresh air and Vitamin D, and then quilt for fun!

Candy

 

 

And Then There Was Sun!

And Then There Was Sun!

Today is springy and it feels so good.  I actually sat outside in the sunshine and took in a bit of Vitamin D.  I’m always surprised at how much more energy I have on sunny days. It’s nice to have the windows open and I can hear kids playing outside and imagine their mothers sighing in relief.  There’s a leaf blower in the distance and by tomorrow the air will be alive with the sound of power washers.

The house repairs are finally finished and what a relief.  I am really enjoying the quiet.  The only sad part is that I have no excuse to put off housework!

I’ve been quilting this quilt

which has been nameless until now.  I looked up the name of the block and was disappointed to find it unimaginatively called Double X #4.  That is just not cutting it.  I’ve decided to call the quilt “Birds Heading Home.”  The birds are the little green triangles and the birdhouse has a bright pink door.  I’ve quilted the top right corner.

It’s a lot of quilting, but since the piece isn’t really big, it won’t take too long.

If patriotic quilts are your thing or you do Quilts of Valor, there’s a lot of red, white and blue fabric out there now.  I love the colors and am ready to do at least a runner.  I have some older runners I’ve made and looking at them now reminds me how long some of those pieces have been around.  Many of the blues I used before the turn of the century have faded to gray.  The newer dyes are much better and I now have windows that block the UV rays that bleach out carpet, draperies and even wood floors.  If you’re looking for patterns for patriotic quilts, I’d like to recommend our Blue Star Mothers pattern.  If you want a good sized quilt in a hurry, Fall Into Halloween would be great in USA prints.  Also, for some cool patriotic fabrics, Mother Goes Mod works well, especially if you have a red, white and blue layer cake.

Blue Star Mothers

Blue Star Mothers

After a long, hard winter, get outside and get a little sun.  Then quilt for fun!

Candy

PS  Newsletter coming out next week!  Sign up at the top right of this page.

 

If It Rains, Clean Something

If It Rains, Clean Something

Today there is dancing in the streets!  Okay, not in the actual street, just in our fevered brains.  After more than five months of destruction and reconstruction, the house repairs are finished.  There are still two walls that need wallpaper and the painters are waiting for some consecutive days of dry weather to finish the painting outside.  Still, we are enjoying some wonderful quiet.  I should be able to move back into my studio tomorrow.  What a relief!

We had a stormy weekend which was the perfect opportunity to create a neatness in my office.  I thinned out a bunch of ten-year-old (and older) magazines and saved some (okay, a lot of ) inspirational pages.  The desk is still a little scary – one step at a time.

Now that I’ve declared April UFO month, it’s time to choose something to finish.  This is the current front-runner.

Obviously, it’s spent some years folded up in the closet.  (Don’t worry, it had lots of company.) It was a little study in value using just one block in three sizes.  I like the colors and I had really forgotten about it.  It’s time to give this baby a little love.

Barb is finally finishing setting up her studio.  She moved into a house at the beginning of January and it takes forever to get settled when one is also working full time.  Barb is also Ms. DIY, so she’s been very busy.  The current project is Roman shades in her two back bedrooms.  I haven’t made window coverings of any kind for years, and frankly hope I never have to again.  I think Barb just likes the challenge.  She was pretty surprised at how big her stash is when she moved her sewing stuff out of my house (no room at her apartment) and into her house.  Now she’ll have to buy her own thread!

The weather hasn’t been too springy.  Last weekend we had sideways rain and lots of wind.  I’m actually surprised that it didn’t blow the petals right off the tulips.  Guess they’re pretty tough.

I’m hoping to get down to the tulip fields around Woodburn in the next couple of weeks to take some pictures.  It’s very reminiscent of Holland in the spring with so many fields of color.

If you haven’t signed up for our newsletter, it’s easy to do and we promise not to fill your inbox.  The aim is a monthly missive when life doesn’t intervene.

Check out our shopping page for some spring inspiration!

Keep quilting for fun!

Candy