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.

 

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

 

Let the Quilting, Fusing, Dyeing Begin

Let the Quilting, Fusing, Dyeing Begin

Summer is here, the garden is in and my sewing machine is in the shop for its yearly checkup.  Apparently June is tune-up-your-sewing machine month as it’s been in the shop for two weeks and it’s just now ready to come home.  Since today is a Friday in the Summer, I’m not going to retrieve it until tomorrow.  I find that about 2 pm Friday afternoon, about half the population takes a stupid pill and hits the freeway.  It should be a lovely weekend so there will be lots of traveling to lakes and beaches.

Sunday, Barb and I head for the hills, (literally) when we drive up to Sisters, OR for a week of quilting topped off with the Outdoor Quilt Show on Saturday.  Sisters is located on the east side of the Cascades at the edge of Oregon’s high desert.  It’s a lovely setting for both Quilter’s Affair classes and the Outdoor Show.  I’ve been going since 1993 except for a year when we vacationed in Europe and the year my son got married.  This year I have four days of classes and a day to just hang around.  There’s a lot to be said for the relaxation of just hanging around.  In this day and age, people don’t do it so much and I think that’s a shame for both adults and kids.  Enjoying a day, taking it all in, is good for the soul.

On the left, the highway through town is closed on the day of the show.  On the right, quilts are hung on the outside of most of the buildings in town.  How can you not love this?  Also, being with friends and not cooking or cleaning is always good.

For the first year ever, all my quilting stuff is packed up and ready to for Sunday.  Clearly, that’s because the sewing machine is gone (although I could’ve borrowed Barb’s) and I found the need to clean the quilting studio.  Who saves tiny bits of fusible web?  Not to mention some weird junk that I have no idea what it does?  The good news is that it’ll be ready to roll when I get back.  This year I’m doing a fusing class, quilting with rulers and painting on fabric.  Barb will be dyeing fabric and making tote bags.  So much to learn, so little time.

         All packed up and ready to roll (left). Just a small mess in the background.       For me, this is neat.  Just a little more quilting to do on Submariner’s Compass.

I’m already thinking about fall.  I have a couple of ideas in my head and will get lots more inspiration this coming week.  Now I’ll go bake some cookies for my housemates.

If this post has issues, please know that I couldn’t preview it and hope to have the problem solved quickly.  I love the internet, but it’s always something.

Have a wonderfully fun and safe Independence Day weekend.

Keep quilting for Fun!

Relaxing Summer

Relaxing Summer

Just so you know, I’m aware that the two words in the above title are mutually exclusive.  Oh, there will be times when it’s possible to sit outside and sip iced tea or a margarita.  But on the whole, there is more gardening, more traveling, more cleaning (the dogs bring in lots of bark dust and little sticky things), and more daytime to do the things we want and need to do.  The good news for many of us is that we have more energy when we enjoy more sun.

My vegetable garden isn’t in yet, but will be soon.  I find it pointless to put in veggie starts in May and watch them  just sit there and shiver for a month.  Also, I don’t garden much when it’s 50 and raining.  I have standards.  Here’s a picture of what will be veggies next week.

The coral poppies really went to town.  I was afraid they’d be pretty seriously abused by the cold weather last winter, but I’m happily wrong.  The California poppies (aka “weeds” in my dad’s book) do just what I want:  provide color between tulip and veggie seasons and require no care.

Every once in a while I go through my stash and just re-stack the fabrics.  They get messy when I pick through them and creating a neatness makes me feel more organized.  It also reminds me of what is hiding in there.  A couple of weeks ago I rediscovered some fabric that I bought three years ago.  The collection is called Handmaids by J. Wecker Frisch.  These are funky and a bit steam punk and I bought several pieces.

I love the mix of color and black and white and the funkiness of it.  The problem is, what does one do with these pieces?  These squares measure about 7 ½ inches.  There was only one thing to do – update “Harry’s Halloween” and make a quilt.  The collection also includes some black and white rectangles to which I added a bit of color with sharpies.

This was a project that I couldn’t wait to get out of my head even though more than one top is waiting to be quilted.  The top is almost finished and here’s a peek at how it turned out.

It’s not all sewn together, but you can get the drift.  I’m planning to hang it in my studio.  Doing this reminded me that this sort of project needs some organization.  I will be posting some pictures and additional instruction on the How To page for those who want to make Harry’s Halloween and its relatives, Mother’s Halloween, Harry’s Alphabet and this quilt, Sewist’s Delight.  While some parts of the quilt get changed, the basic idea remains the same.  The Harry’s Halloween pattern will be specially priced until July 10.  As always, if you have questions about patterns and instructions, we are happy to help.  Email us at motheronabroomstick@gmail.com and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

Ella just celebrated her 10th birthday.  She has absolutely no clue that she’s an “older dog.”  Actually, I’m not sure she thinks she’s a dog.  Perhaps an ever-youthful, furry person.  This picture was taken at Easter at Nana’s house. Ella and Toby love going to Nana’s house.  Nana scratches their ears and tells them how beautiful and smart they are and how she wishes they would stay longer.  Of course, they don’t get her up at six in the morning.  Funny how that works out.

I’m off to finish “Sewist’s” and clean up the big mess I made choosing background fabric.

Enjoy Summer and keep quilting for fun!

Get Into Those Spring Colors

Get Into Those Spring Colors

Welcome May!  According to our weather person, spring will start tomorrow with some sunny and warm weather.  And may I say that it’s about time.  All the rain and cool weather have been tiresome, but everything here is the most gorgeous shade of vibrant green.  Sadly, this also includes the weeds, but I’ll get ’em over the next couple of (dry) days.

The tulips and hyacinths really went to town.  The hyacinths took kind of a beating during an unseasonable wind storm early in April.  They were listing pretty badly but continued to scent the front yard.

They’re about finished now, but the veggies and a few flowers will go in soon so the yard will still be busy.

I spent a chunk of April out of town.  As in 5 days gone, 3 days home, 5 days gone, 3 days home, 2 days gone.  I enjoyed every bit of my travels.  I am currently playing catch-up.  It seems that everything, including the dust just piles up while I’m gone.

Last week I spent a very fun day in a quilt class taught by Robin Long.  Robin teaches a really slick way to make Mariner’s Compass blocks.  She’s developed a ruler that makes the process both efficient and accurate with no paper piecing and very little waste.  Here’s the practice one I made in class:

Pretty nifty!  I was so encouraged that I started a quilt the next day.  Not  all the compasses have centers yet and aren’t sewn to the backgrounds, but you can get the gist.

I’ll post a picture when I finish.  If you’re interested in pursuing this technique, go to www.robinruthdesign.com and see her work, books, rulers and videos.

While I was going through the pots of snail mail that accumulated while I was gone, it came to me that I was looking at wonderful examples of color combinations in catalogs like Grandin Road.  The furniture, rugs and home dec items pictured give lots of hints about colors and how to use them together.  This resource has been hitting my mailbox regularly for years.  You probably have some, too.  You only have to buy one little thing to be engulfed in catalogs for life.  When you see a something you like, tear out the page for your inspiration file.  Then consider the colors, values and percentage of each color used.  If you don’t have an inspiration file, I really suggest starting one and checking it often.  You just never know what will light up a cool quilt idea.

Please keep our fellow quilters who are enduring severe weather in your thoughts and prayers.  Although I whine about the weather here, it’s very unlikely that I’ll be tornadoed or flooded.  I’m very grateful for this and send good thoughts to those whose lives are currently being upended.

We invite you to visit the rest of the site and sign up for our newsletter.

Keep quilting for fun.

Candy