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

 

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

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.