Better Late . . .

Better Late . . .

If you read this space from time to time, you’ll know that I said we had a new post about this time last month. The only problem was that I apparently forgot to hit “publish.” It’s up there now, but it’s not as if you missed a reel of a mystery movie. My daughter-in-law let me know about it, but I was close enough to scheduled back surgery that fixing it wasn’t at the top of my priority list. Now that the surgery is two weeks in my rearview mirror, I’m feeling much better and more myself.

We’ve had both lots of rain this month and many lovely, sunny days. I have crocus blooming and lots of tulips coming up. Currently, we’re having the first snow of the season. The weather report said it should start about 3 pm. I decided to hit the grocery store about 1 pm and I’m so glad I didn’t wait as it was starting to snow when I got home at 1:30. Mother Nature keeps her own timetable and we mortals are well advised to just work around it.

Crocus in January

The fluffy stuff around the flowers is California poppies. I doubt the snow will affect any of it very much.

I haven’t gotten a great deal of quilting done the last few weeks, which frustrates the heck out of me, but I managed a birthday postcard for my granddaughter who just turned one.

The thing about having to take it really easy (and having little energy) the last two weeks is that regular chores don’t really get done. Dust still comes and floors need mopping and email needs dumping. It’s going to take a while to get caught up, especially since housework will always take a back seat to quilting and any other artsy craftsy thing I can think up. I probably don’t have to mention that I can think up quite a lot..

The snow has built up enough (like maybe ⅜ of an inch) that kids are outside playing in it. We don’t get snow at this elevation very often so it doesn’t take much to get them out making snowballs. Wild Bill is going nuts knowing that someone’s having fun without him.

Wild Bill Poodle

I wish I had more to share. About all I can say is that with about 200 channels, daytime TV is still pretty awful. So I’m off to make up with my sewing machine.

Candy

PS

For some reason, the pictures on the site turned long and skinny. Hope I figure out the problem while I’m young.

The December Geranium

The December Geranium

I’m writing from a new computer and while I just went from Old Mac (formerly Big Mac) to Big Mac (otherwise known as Bigger Mac), there are new things to learn. So if something here looks weird, just go with it.

I took this picture of one of my poor geraniums trying to bloom. I’ve never had one do this so late in the year, so it’s kind of special. The rest of the geraniums and alyssum are still green, which is a step up from the black I usually have.

December Geranium

We had a couple of really lovely, sunny days, then back to the usual cloudy and damp for Christmas, and today and tomorrow will be sunny. I’m just grateful we don’t have blizzards. We might have a little snow at some point, which is cute for about half a day and then it’s kind of a pain. Snow, like bears, should stay in the mountains where we can ski on it. If I just implied that I ski on bears, I don’t. They really hate that.

I have decided that not every quilt I make needs to be larger than life. So naturally I came across this one from the early 80’s. It was in a “Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine,” and I loved it the moment I saw it. I made the top, which is appliquéd with close zig-zag. The reindeer have some backing to make them stay flat, which I learned after I did the center trees. Live and learn. The batting was polyester and kind of fat and the back was muslin. I started to quilt it by hand and then Christmas was over, I had two small children and we were getting ready to move, so it got put away. Thirty five years later I decided to finish it, but there was no way I was going to quilt it by hand. So I took out the quilting, removed the poly batting and muslin back and here I am, back in the 80’s. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

This guy is an original and I found most of it as I was organizing after the studio was painted. I thought there were more finished or even started trees and finally decided to go with what I had. I made one more tree to get this long, skinny top. It’s finished so that it can either hang or be a runner.

Every Christmas Day and Easter I make Golden Ginger Scones. It’s a recipe from a magazine from the 1980’s. They’re always a hit. They were just a bit overbaked this year as my ovens are getting a bit old and less reliable than they once were. (Also, I watch The Great British Baking Show too often. They were still yummy.)

I’m finding out just how much learning I have to do on this new MAC. I’ll figure it out eventually.

Happy New Year to all!

November Rose

November Rose

In addition to the craziness of 2020 in general, we’ve had a more warm and sunny fall than usual. This last rose of summer bloomed at the beginning of November. I touched it when I was getting close to take a picture and it fell off, so here it is just off the bush.

November Rose

I also love how strawberry plants look when fall sets in.

This might be a good color combo for a quilt.

The other thing I just noticed is that while the geraniums and alyssum aren’t blooming anymore, the plants themselves look great. All my summer pots are a lovely shade of green. By now they’re usually looking pretty sad. But this year we have this:

I’ll take this over frostbitten and dead anytime!

I’m still working on finishing some older projects. Some of them make me wonder if I got stuck, bored or I just have the attention span of a gnat. The leaf below was started in a class a few years ago and the original plan was to make four and put them together. I wound up not being crazy about the fabrics I brought to the class which wasn’t held in a quilt shop so I was sort of stuck with what I brought. Near to the end of finishing this one, Ella chewed up the pattern and I put the project aside. This fall I decided to just bind the one leaf and call it finished.

Maybe someday I’ll redraw the leaf and do four. Or maybe not.

About three years ago I took a class on making a series of quilts from Katie Pasquini Masopust. It was four days long and each student brought a quilt as the beginning. I brought the quilt in the upper left. The other three in the first photo were made on successive days and the last day I made “The Last Leaf on the Tree.”

The Last Leaf

And then there’s this:

This one’s been around for a while, but I didn’t like the paper pieced snowman. I finally decided to just cover it with three circles of white batting and I like it much better. It’s great for January when we really need some bright colors.

My next finishing project will be a quilt I started in the early 80’s. It was from “The Quilter’s Newsletter,” and I just loved it the moment I saw it. I finished the top and started to hand quilt it. It seemed pretty overwhelming and was never finished. This year I took out the quilting and got rid of the fat polyester batting. Now it will get new batting and I’ll quilt it on the machine so it will be finished sometime before it turns 40. I still love the fabrics and would do some things differently today, but it’s a sweet memory and I want to finish it.

Here’s hoping you are all well and have a wonderful holiday season.

Candy

If the Broom Fits . . .

If the Broom Fits . . .

I love October because even if it’s cooler than I like, there’s still plenty of sun and the colors are lovely. Halloween decorations are up, Mona and Maynard are in their assigned places in the dining room and I still have to ask a neighbor with kids what the drill will be for Trick or Treating.

Mona

Maynard

Years ago, probably more than twenty, I took a class to learn to paint this.

If you like old style Halloween images, you probably recognize her. The hand and pumpkin move to hide her face. After all this time, she’s still a favorite of mine.

This year I finished the wool project below.

It’s another project that was started a few years ago and I was so close to finishing, I can’t believe it was still hanging around in the UFO pile.

Outside, the “farm” is decommissioned and we ate the last of the tomatoes in BLT’s for dinner the other night. It wasn’t our most prolific year (except for cucumbers which are always insane) and I suspect our cooler summer is somewhat to blame. However, the dahlias are still blooming!

They’re pretty tough and I love the bright color.

In the back, this little rose continues to bloom. I thought I’d killed it a couple of years ago, but it came back like a champ!

Even the geraniums are hanging in.

If, like me, you’ve found this year to be a complete goat rodeo, I hope you’re finding some peace in your quilting space. Mine is actually still pretty tidy as I find it comforting to find what I’m looking for before I lose interest. I’ve even begun decluttering my office/painting space. I now have a tidy desk and bed and will be moving on to the floor tomorrow.

I just realized how long it’s been since I’ve posted anything here. While life is back to normalish here, there are lots of places in Oregon and surrounding states where fire damage has made normal a distant memory. Two small towns just south of where I grew up really got hammered and it just breaks my heart. I can only imagine what it must be like to lose everything. Now that these fires have fallen off of the front pages please keep the victims in your prayers as it will be a long haul back.

I finally finished the top of my block of the month quilt.

Actually it was two or three blocks every month. I like the black sashing and now that I have the backing I have no excuse not to get busy quilting it. The quilting will be pretty simple as there’s quite a lot going on here. Also, it’s quite big. It was good practice for my (iffy) embroidery skills and I can now blanket stitch really quickly.

I was in Central Oregon about a month ago visiting friends and stopped at The Stitchin’ Post in Sisters. I really missed the outdoor quilt show and the week of classes leading up to it. While I was there, I bought a kit with a pattern by June Jaeger. It’s an all-fused picture of Smith’s Rock and was a bit more of a challenge than I anticipated. I’m now quilting it and will show a picture of it here next time.

It’s been a pretty, mostly sunny day here and I just got a frost advisory for tonight on my phone. I guess it really is fall. Summer just kind of got away from me and I’m not ready for holidays. Okay, I don’t actually remember a time when I was ready for the holidays. Time to buck up and get with it.

Happy Halloween to all!

Candy

It’s Always Something

It’s Always Something

My mother was right, especially this year. The west is kind of a mess right now and I find myself ready to spill online. If you want to skip a bit of whining, you are welcome to go to the next paragraph. 1) I’m pretty much over hearing ads that begin with how they feel our pain at this challenging time. I would be fine if they skipped that and went on to the usual shameless self promotion. 2) Playing tennis with a mask sucks. It’s too smokey for tennis today anyway, so never mind. 3) We’re at level 1 evacuation which basically means get you stuff together just in case. We did that yesterday and the house now looks like a goat exploded. Also, everything smells like smoke.

Sometimes it’s good to just get it out there. In actual fact, we’re in pretty good shape – the wind has stopped and we’re across the river from the bad stuff. While the sun is just a little orange ball above the smoke, it is there. Also, friends have checked in on us, which makes me feel good. The interesting thing about this is that it makes you think about what’s really important. I’m finding that photos from before the digital period are a thing and that I’d be really sad to leave 40 years of quilting and decorative painting behind. There is more help coming from out of state and on the federal level. We’re keeping evacuees and those who’ve lost everything in our prayers.

The cookie jar below was started about 20 years ago and put aside halfway finished for about 5 years. Once I got myself to just read one instruction at a time, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.

The other really cool thing that happened was that the hole in the ceiling and one wall of the quilting studio got fixed and the whole room repainted. It made me get serious about thinning the herd and while there are a few things still stashed in another room, some will not make the cut to get back into the new room. Sweet Husband did all the painting.

One thing that happened as I was moving stuff and cleaning out – there are more UFO’s! I’m working on a couple, but stopped to make this little cutie:

I used the small Circle Magic template from Missouri Star and a stack of Halloween 5-inch squares. I wanted to try the technique without risking a lot of time and fabric. I think the bigger template would’ve been easier, but this little guy turned out pretty cute. It’ll look better when it’s well pressed. It was a pretty quick project, which I was really ready for.

I only have one more block to appliqué for my block of the month wool quilt. Well actually, there are four little appliqué blocks for the corners but finishing the larger blocks is a big deal. I’m only about a month behind and I’m pretty proud of that. I have the black printed fabric that goes between the blocks so the end is in sight.

I hope that this blog finds everyone home and safe. When I find out what we can all do to help after the smoke clears, I’ll pass it on with the Facebook page. Right now the news tells me that the best way to help is to stay out of the way.

Take care and stay safe,

Candy

P.S. Anybody want cucumbers? I only have one plant and it went nuts. There are only so many cukes two people can eat!

Summer in the PNW

Summer in the PNW

Still alive and well in the PNW. I remain masked at the store, which wigs me out a little bit here and there. The sun is out and summer is being really summery, which is always good. I transplanted, fed and watered the little rose I almost killed two years ago and apparently we’ve now made up.

And Ella is posing with more flowers.

The veggies are coming along. I’ve picked five zucchinis and one tomato with lots more coming on. Just so you know, this is what a tomato is supposed to look like on the inside.

There’s also been raspberry jam and raspberry vinegar.

The Cinderella Pumpkin plant is really going to town. We already have three little pumpkins and about 30 flowers. I also have about a seven-foot volunteer sweet pea. It smells absolutely heavenly and I’m so glad it made it.

There has also been quilting. I finally finished a Halloween project I started a couple of years ago. In 2018, I pieced it and last year I started to quilt it. Now the quilting is done and I finished binding it on Friday. And yes, I might have gotten a bit carried away as it’s enormous. It should keep me pretty cozy this fall.

And there’s the Block of the Month from Sew Creative in Ashland, Oregon. I’m only about a month behind, so I’m feeling pretty proud of myself.

It’s called “Flower Power” and has been quite the adventure. I’m on month eight of a twelve month project, so the end is in sight. I’ve never finished such a large wool project and I think it’s going to weigh a ton.

So when I was feeling overwhelmed with big projects, I made these:

I love watermelon fabrics and these bags were great for some little pieces I had. Over the last few years, I’ve bought zipper rolls in several colors. No waste as I cut just what I need and can put different colored pulls on.

These were a different pattern and I used a lot of what’s left of my Debbie Mumm Fall and Halloween fabrics. If ever a collection needed to be reprinted, it’s this. The prints are just so charming and fun. And curiously full of red haired witches!

I really don’t want this year to be the complete waste it’s trying to be. So more UFO’s will get finished and a couple of new techniques will be tried. Concentrating on making each day having some good things. Like chocolate zucchini bread and browned butter chocolate chip cookies. At least the taste buds are happy. And of course, I’m always happy in the quilt studio.

Enjoy the summer and happy quilting!

Candy

Notes From Home, Part 3

Notes From Home, Part 3

I’m finally back, as if I’ve actually been somewhere else. I don’t know what to say about the past few weeks except that I hope and pray that everyone will get the justice they deserve without any further wreckage of lives or livelihoods.

These last weeks have seemed, in many ways, to go quickly, and yet April seems miles away into the past. I can’t quite get my head around it. The last couple of weeks have been rainy and today has been like forty days and forty nights. June is always a bit iffy here. Some years it’s really hot and most years, it’s cloudy and chilly. You can’t really count on summer weather until July. The back yard is a practically a swamp and muddy dog feet are the newest look on our carpets. On the bright side, the lettuce I planted a few weeks ago loves it. Lettuce fresh out of the garden has its own sweet taste.

I’m sticking to my promise to myself to finish two UFO’s before starting anything new. This one is called “Chicken Joke” and was a round robin in my small, small quilt group. There were seven blocks including my original one (in the center) and then I made two more as seven blocks just didn’t work out. Finally got it quilted and bound.

The fabric for the back was given to me by one of our members who was cleaning out her stash and thought this would be a good backing. She was right!

“The Sewists” was pieced last year from fabric I bought in California in 1014. Given that quilters and sewists made about a bazillion masks in the last few months, it seemed appropriate to remind my future self of all they did in 2020 and finish this one.

The theme fabric is a little funky and I just love it. I bought more than I needed since I had no idea what I would eventually use it for and used some for the back. I must also confess, it’s not all gone.

Once these were finished, I allowed myself to start (and FINISH) a table runner that used a techniques I’d never seen. It’s called “Olive Tree” and is featured in the book “Table-Runner Roundup” compiled by Amelia Johanson. The pattern is from Annette Ornelas. It’s kind of a cool technique where inserts are sewn into straight line piecing and folded back to create curves.

For some reason the photographs made the quilting look raised. I’ve never had that happen before. In real life it just looks like regular quilting. It went really fast as I can quilt leaves night and day and afternoon. Leaves are my favorite as you really can’t screw them up. Leaves in nature aren’t all “perfect.” Some of them are wonky, just like some of mine.

It’s strawberry season here and they’re so yummy.

In the olden days, the kids and I picked locally grown strawberries. These days, Barbara doesn’t have time and my back says, “No way.” So we buy from local growers and make jam and pie.

We are all fine. The deck flower pots are all planted and the veggies are (I hope) going in next week. It’s a bit late, but even if I’d planted earlier, they’d just be sitting there shivering their leaves off. There will always be work to do in the garden. Right now the weeds are growing, oddly enough, like, well, weeds.

Ella Bella Poodlehound turned 13 a couple of weeks ago. She had a bit of non-serious surgery last week and is healing well. I found a new “cone of shame” that’s soft so it’s more comfortable for her and the plaster can stay on the walls. Wild Bill’s been pretty good about giving her some time off, thank heaven. Ella will be bossing him around again in no time.

The project from my big, small quilt group (as opposed to my small, small quilt group) will be ready to show you next week. Since there are ten of us who met every two months, this one’s been in progress for two years. I’m ready to be finished.

I hope this post finds all healthy and ready to enjoy summer. Just to sit in the sun and smell the sweet peas will be wonderful.

Until next time,

Candy

Notes From Home, Part 2

Notes From Home, Part 2

I don’t think I’m alone when I say that the last three weeks have pretty much been a complete waste of makeup. It’s not that nothing got done. I finished an old (and I do mean OLD) UFO, made a bunch of medical masks, and ate more junk food than usual. It is, however, a pretty sad state of affairs to find myself standing in front of the closet wondering what I should choose to wear to the drive-up window at Starbuck’s. Especially when the choice turns out to be a sweater and vest to go with my bedroom slippers. Here’s the finished oldie:

New Directions

And another:

Autumn Blossom

Autumn Blossom was a pattern from a magazine. I chose to hand appliqué the borders although the pattern didn’t call for that. It was pretty easy and I like the way it turned out. Took awhile to learn how to get my machine to handle shiny thread. It’s hard to see until you’re close up. At least I learned some stuff.

Quilt groups will be meeting using Zoom. My first one is Monday. We are so lucky that we have all these electronic doodads to help us stay in touch. Chats with friends, family and especially Adorable Grandchild are really helpful. It’s my turn to host a small quilt group in a couple of weeks, so we’ll Zoom that one, too. I’ll let you know how it works out

Two weeks ago, the weather was lovely. Weeds got pulled and natural vitamin D was enjoyed. The last couple of weeks featured rain, wind, chilly temps and occasional hail. This, I find, is not particularly mood enhancing. On the brighter side, my early tulips are starting to bloom, the hyacinths are finishing up, and we are healthy. So really there’s just some restlessness and whining.

I’m proud to say that local quilters and other sewists have stepped up to make medical masks. A Facebook group was started a couple of weeks ago to set this in motion and help people get the supplies they need and know the rules and where to bring the masks. I believe the group now has several thousand members. It’s amazing what we can do when we need to. Someone gave me some elastic while I was waiting for mine to arrive and I’m giving away some fabric to those without a stash.

I found a super cute baby sweater in a quilt and knit shop about a month ago. They were out of the book, but I found it online and ordered it. The book (and yarn I then ordered) were from England, although the book was printed and sent from Germany. Check out this gorgeous yarn that came all nestled in a paper nest.

Wild Bill is about ready for the wintry weather to be over. While we had some sun, he went out to check the neighborhood from our little balcony. Ella doesn’t do that so much anymore. She’ll be 13 next month and is still in charge. Billy lets her pin him and make mauling sounds (it’s all about the sound effects). Then she lets him up and he teases her until she does it again.

And yes, last fall’s flowers are looking a little the worse for wear. If the weather stays sunny and warmer as the forecast says, I’ll put on my mask and replace them with summer colors.

Stay healthy, everyone. This too, will pass.

Candy

P.S. Have some great coping skills you’d like to pass on? How’s it going with kids at home? I’d love to hear from you.

Notes From Home

Notes From Home

So it appears that our social calendars are going to be looking a little blank for a while. Yet there are lots of things we can do. We can still get groceries (or have them delivered), smell the hyacinths, communicate by phone or FaceTime, sit in the sun, play games, watch a movie and snuggle with dogs. And, of course, as long as there are electricity, thread and fabric, I will never be bored.

I have about a zillion UFO’s and I’m currently working on a golden oldie. Given the fabric and subject matter, this one was probably started in the late 90’s. All that was left to quilt were the borders, which were about 6 inches wide.

After quilting three of the borders, I decided that those borders were too wide. They were overshadowing all the work that went into the compasses in the middle. So I’ve cut them down to 4 1/2 inches.

After all this, I realized that one of the quilted compasses wasn’t quite finished. As you can see from the photo below, even some of the finished ones had stitches from two different sewing machines. And the last one will be finished with a third machine. I’m thinking that finished is better than perfect. In this case, that’s just the way it is.

I managed to finish the top of “Chicken Joke,” from a round robin my small quilt group did. The ladies did a great job.

I also finished knitting a sweater for my baby granddaughter. She’ll be needing a bit of time to grow into it.

In the middle of lovely, sunny, spring weather, we had a day of snow on Saturday. The daffodils and hyacinths were not amused, though they seem to have recovered. Three inches of snow in mid March is not unheard of, but is fairly rare. Sadly, it hasn’t slowed down the mole in my front yard.

Wild Bill thought the snow was hilarious.

The video I took doesn’t want to load here, which may be a blessing as videography is apparently not my forte. Almost all the footprints you see here are his.

This morning I sensed the primal scream of mothers of school age children when our governor announced that school would be closed until May. I’m thinking that many children will be learning other skills, like washing dishes, doing laundry, pet care, and perhaps even yard maintenance. Any kid who’d like to learn the ins and outs of weeding and pest control is welcome to apply here as I have both weeds and pests.

I thought for a bit that I might catch up on some housework. Just kidding. There will mostly be quilting.

Count your blessings and stay cool.

Candy

I’m Back!

I’m Back!

I’ve been absent from this site for a few weeks now, but I’m finally back. After starting the year with a three-week cold that lasted from Christmas to mid January, I was just getting my energy back when my baby granddaughter decided to make the scene two weeks early! So I was off to Los Angeles for 12 days of snuggling.

It’s been a long time since I fed, burped and changed a newborn. Luckily, it’s one of those things that comes back pretty quickly. Baby Girl is a generally happy baby and seemed to like snuggling in with her new grandma.

As you might expect, there was some catching up to do when I got home, not to mention a couple of appointments that got moved and a trip to my mom’s. No rest for the weary and all that. I’m just happy that I can do all that and play tennis and quilt.

My first introduction to needlework came when I was about 7 or 8 from a neighbor whose passion was knitting . I come back to it every now and again and have especially enjoyed knitting for kids as it goes pretty quickly and if it’s a little big, they’ll grow into it. I started this one before I left for LA and I’m just finishing the collar. I had to learn a new stitch for the little puffs at the hem, cuffs and soon-to-be collar. Gotta keep those brain cells challenged. It’s a project I mostly work on in front of the TV in the evening. I’m hoping to find some little white bunny buttons to put on it. If anybody sees any, let me know. I’d like to get it to the Baby Girl before she outgrows it.

One of the things that happens when a planned trip gets moved up is that something I thought I would have a week to do needed to get done in a day. A white square was sent to me to make a block for a retirement quilt for a friend of over 40 years. After a few minutes of complete panic, I came up with this:

The bottle and label are fused and the rest of the picture, including bottle highlights and shadows are painted with craft acrylics. I saw the finished quilt yesterday at the retirement party and it turned out great. Lots of pictures and memories. Of course, now that I look at the block, I see some things I might’ve done better or differently. And I realize that perfection was not the point; sending some love to an old friend was the important thing.

The weather here during the last week has been quite sunny. It’s a false spring kind of thing. Even today, which started off stormy, has had quite a lot of sun. I did some weeding while getting whiffs of my neighbor’s daphne. That wonderful scent just seems to me to be the essence of spring.

The little daffodils are blooming and the tulips are giving it their best shot. The tops of many of the tulip leaves have been nibbled off by deer. Sweet husband caught them snacking one night last week. They might have chewed up some weeds, but NOOO. They certainly did not. Apparently tulips are tastier.

Now that I’m home for a bit, and mostly caught up, there will be quilting. I’m still planning to finish some UFO’s this year. They continue to mock me from the closet and need to be finished or rehomed.

Stay warm and quilt lots.

Candy