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

A New Day

A New Day

31 December 2019:

The year is almost over. The trees are bare; it’s cloudy and chilly. It’s the sleep before the morning that is early spring. This is not looking terribly exciting, but then neither are we when we’re sleeping. I seem to get more done during long spring and summer days. Dark winter days make me want to take a nap. Maybe I should just take one. We all need the down time that nature brings to her plants and animals.

1 January 2020:

My new year begins with a surprise of sunshine. I’m not much into omens and signs, but I’ll take this as the beginning of good things to come. It’s also showing me how much I need to wash windows. Not doing it today.

These little beauties are enjoying the sunshine in my front gardens. Apparently it hasn’t been cold enough to put them to sleep for the winter.

The “Wild Animals” quilt was safely delivered just before Christmas.

It will be a while before I sew black fabric with black thread. I love how it turned out and I hope our baby girl will love it, too.

I’m nearly finished quilting a top that I started a couple of years ago. I had some Laurel Burch Christmas fabric that made a really fun top. I abandoned it after the holidays last year as I was ready to move on from Christmas and now I want to just finish it. There are plenty of UFOs waiting. And they’ll wait a bit longer for the joy of a finished project.

I’m catching up on my Block of the Month project. In this project there are actually two blocks every month. I caught up with October (the purple flower), November (the green one) and the first December one. For the second December one I chose to appliqué with an Italian Knotted Edge Stitch. It’s not hard, but it is slow going. (Check the close-up.) The January stuff will be here soon so I want to get with the program.

We celebrated Billy’s first year with us on Sunday. He turned two the week before and while he’s officially an adult, there’s a lot of puppy in there. He made really good progress this year as he was pretty wild when we got him. There are still some challenges. We’ll be working through them as he continues to settle down. The good news is that he’s really sweet and a cuddler. Self control is our ongoing issue. He’s also kind of a goof.

Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy and prosperous new year!

Candy

Holiday Time

Holiday Time

It’s that very busy time of year again and I know this because I just searched for my cell phone and found it in my hand. I’m attempting to be organized and yet life continues to feel a bit out of control. My brain well knows that control is really an illusion. I still make a plan and hope for the best. Right on cue, there was an unexpected trip to the vet (Ella’s fine; the truth is that at 12 ½ she’s reached the place in life where it’s always something) and an unplanned trip to the shop for Sweet Husband’s car. So much for control.

It’s less than three weeks until the shortest day of the year. I really hate getting up in the dark and having it be almost dark at 4:30 in the afternoon. It’s not much of a mystery why our ancestors celebrated the shortest day and the fact that the days would begin getting longer. There’s always the outside chance that December 21st will find me dancing in the street.

I’m very tickled to have finished the quilt for my granddaughter. This one I made for love of the fabric and it also reminded me why I swore off black a couple of years ago. Hand sewing the binding on was a real trip. Now it’s ready for cuddling, drooling and maybe a little spit up. Clearly I don’t make baby quilts as heirlooms. If they wear out, they wear out and I’ll make another one.

Now I’m finishing a small group quilt. Each person in the group made three triangles for each of the other members. Because we used equilateral triangle rulers, we received perfect triangles, making them really easy to put together. Each of us is on our own to decide how to set them so it’ll be interesting to see what the different members came up with. I would love to have it be just this diamond, but that would be a real challenge to hang and since we’re entering them in a show, the diamond will be in a light gray rectangle.

The block of the month is going well. Two of the first four are completely finished and the other two are almost there. While I was in the Rogue Valley last weekend, I picked up my December blocks. I’m not letting myself start them until the Christmas decorations are up.

Sweet Husband put up the lights on a sunshiny day last week. I’ve already hung the Christmas quilts. Beyond that, I’ve done nothing. The plan is to be decorated by the end of the week. The one thing I did do was make bourbon balls yesterday so they’ll be tasty by Christmas. The hard part is staying out of them for a couple of weeks.

I’ve got one more Christmas top I’d like to finish, but that’s iffy, at best. Still, it could happen.

Packing a lot into the next three weeks? Don’t forget to give yourself a break to enjoy a hot coffee or tea and just be for awhile.

Got something cool you’re working on? Send a picture; I’d love to see.

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.

 

Digging Out

Digging Out

We’re now back to weather that we  call normal.  The snow and ice are gone and it’s about 30 degrees warmer than it was a week ago.  The tulips are just starting to come up and we may survive winter.  The back of the house had lots of icicles.  One was 28 inches long!  Check out the bottom of this hanging basket:

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We’ve had wintry weather before, but icicles off the bottom of a hanging basket is a first for me.  Because we had such a lovely fall, I hadn’t taken old flowers out the the pots.  Of course, they’re all totaled except the pansies.  Those babies are tough.

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I finished Dancing Teapot today.  It came a long way from this

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to this

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And a close-up of the flowers and quilting.

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The teapot and decorations are fused, so it’s pretty quick to do.  I needed a little color to brighten up our rainy, winter days.  The pattern will be on the Shopping page tomorrow.

My next move is to make the teapot penny rug style.

Having some smaller projects that go quickly is really nice when there are some pretty big ones in the queue.  I have a couple of large quilts that “just” need to be bound.  As if that will take a half hour or something.  I also want to make some serious headway into my stack of unquilted tops.  (After all, it’s still January and we’re allowed to say stuff like this as if we have all the time in the world.)

I have one other project that’s been haunting me for many years.  Back in about 1983, I started a Christmas quilt.  I’m pretty sure the pattern was from Quilter’s Newsletter.  I finished the top and began hand quilting it.  I didn’t get very much quilting done, but vowed to finish the following year.  Cut to 2017.  That same unquilted piece has been hanging around all these years and I haven’t put one more stitch in it.  The backing is plain white and the batting is polyester and a bit fluffier than I like now.  So here’s the plan:  I take out the hand quilting (Luckily there isn’t much), and sandwich cotton batting and a more colorful backing and machine quilt it.  I really want to finish as I totally loved the fabrics and I want to use it at Christmas time.

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 I’m thinking my new mantra for the year will be “Fix it or fling it.”  This is not just about quilting, but about a lot of stuff I’ve accumulated over the years.  Because we haven’t moved in 27 years, we’ve tended to save stuff “just in case.”  I’ve decided that if I’m not using something, someone else should get a chance to.  So this will be my first “fix it.”

When I get to a “fling it” quilt top, I’ll post it here and on Facebook so that other quilters can get first dibs before I give it away.  Check us on Facebook and post any quilt top that you’d like to give away to a good home and we’ll see if we can put some “fix it” and “fling its” together.

As always, we ask you to share us with your fellow quilters.

Quilt for fun,

Candy

Snowmageddon

Snowmageddon

If you have ever lived in the Middle West, Northeast, or anywhere that gets real snow, try not to fall off your chair laughing.  Portland had big snow. This is my back deck for the last 3 days.

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Because our street (and many others) is basically a sheet of ice with a sprinkling of snow on top, we haven’t left the house since Tuesday.  I’m working on a major attack of cabin fever.  It’s not that I really need to go someplace; it’s that I can’t if I want to.  MUST GO SOMEPLACE.  A college roommate asked if I’d cleaned our my closets and tidied up my quilting space.  I laughed for a half hour!

Wednesday it was dark and snowy the whole day.  I wasn’t feeling very energetic so gave myself over to what my Grandfather would’ve called monkeying around.  I found this drawing that I did a couple of weeks ago about three minutes before I fell asleep.

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Silly, but fun.

Last week I used it as a basis for this.

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I drafted a bigger one as the original was about 4 inches high, gave it a handle and got going.

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Then it was time to dig into THE STASH.

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So far, everything is fused except the rick-rack,  which is machine stitched down.

To create a little depth, I used  a Prima Watercolor pencil (#137, olive green) at the edges of anything that should be a bit shadowed.

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One of the upsides of watercolor pencil is that it’s easy to lighten up with a damp paint brush.

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So here we are.  Now that I see the photo, there will be some minor changes.

I’m also going to try this with wool.  And maybe a tea cozy.  We’ll see how it turns out.

We would really love it if you would share us with your quilting friends.  The more the merrier!

Stay warm and quilt for fun.

Candy

PS  Got to the grocery store.  Cabin fever dealt with.

A Little Taste of Spring

A Little Taste of Spring

Here in the Northwest, we’re experiencing what I like to call the Spring Teaser.  It’s a mean little thing that  Mother Nature does to trick us into thinking that spring is almost here.  We have sunshine and balmy temperatures (like 62!).  Then we have a day that’s foggy and dreary, followed by a day of mostly sun.  I wouldn’t dream of complaining after seeing the big fun on the Eastern Seaboard.  That’s pretty brutal.  But I must admit I do feel a bit messed with.

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After a cloudy day on Sunday, this sweet surprise on Monday morning was delightful.  There’s still a lot rain and chill to come but even a little sun is so energizing.  Today was kind of a mixed bag.

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Every bit of blue sky helps and of course my tough little pansies are a real day brightener.

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Today I finished this top called Cozy Throw.  It’s a kit from Craftsy by Amy Gibson.  There was plenty of fabric and good directions.  I like using the occasional kit to learn new things.  I haven’t done much with solids until the last few months and especially not white.  I’ve limited myself to tone-on-tone prints in place of solids in the past, but I like expanding the possibilities.  The plan is to use wool batting, which I haven’t done before.  I hear that you don’t grow old until you stop learning so I’ll just keep learning and hoping my brain stays young.

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I love these cheery, bright colors.  They’re a perfect pick-me-up for January blues.

I have an idea for some new quilt designs that I’ll be testing out over the next few weeks.  In the meantime, please check out our two tulip-themed patterns, Singing Tulips and Tulip Field on the shopping page.  They’re both great reminders of the spring time ahead while there is still snow and bare trees outside our windows.

Quilt for fun!

Candy

And We’re Back!

And We’re Back!

Happy New Year to All!

After a busy holiday season, we’re ready to start the year.  It’s nice to get back to the sewing machine even if it’s just to finish up leftovers from last year.  There are so many possibilities for the coming months that I hardly know where to start.  One challenge for the year is to work from my stash as much as possible.  I have given in to the siren’s song of new fabric quite a lot lately and I think I have enough to keep me occupied for a while.  I have lots of fat quarters and other smallish pieces as opposed to big hunks and I cannot promise to deny myself all the time.  Still, there should be plenty of inspiration already in the studio.

Speaking of inspiration, I took a class from Coleen Barnhardt last weekend.  Coleen does longarm quilting and painting on fabric.  She’s combined these to produce some really beautiful designs.  I’m just beginning to see the many ways this could be fun.  Coleen is teaching a class in the Portland area so if you’re interested in having more information, let me know.

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As you can see, I’m just getting started, but it’s not hard to imagine how this technique could be very fun.  I’m looking forward to painting on unquilted fabric to create some one-of-a-kind pieces.  Look her up online at The Quilted Thistle.

Because the weather here (okay, everywhere) has been unusual this year, I have some confused tulips.

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 I’ve never had them start to come up so early.  Sadly, so have the weeds so there’s a bit of work out there waiting for me.  Even the pansies are anxious for spring to be here.  They look a bit weatherbeaten and continue to bloom anyway.

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My small quilt group took December off and I’m really looking forward to our meeting tonight.  It’s always fun to see what the girls have created and get some inspiration, but I have to admit that I love just coming together for a couple of hours to talk and laugh.  Having special friends who share you passion is just the best.

Finally, The Tea Party Runner (aka Santa Says Hi) is finished and on the kitchen table.  It’s great to have a pop of color in the newly de-Christmased house.  The pattern is available on our shopping page.

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Stay warm,

Candy