Friday, May 29, 2009

More Snow?

The cottonwood tree seeds are blowing in the wind. Pretty soon our evergreen bushes will be covered in white. And this stuff doesn't melt! I use the windshield wipers on my car to remove pollen and other plant debris almost as much as I use it to clear raindrops!

Slowly, slowly I'm making progress with the friendship blocks. Discerning eyes may be able to see the differences between these shots and those in the last post. I have big chunks sewn together but still have some fine tuning to do as I assemble those chunks into the final quilt top.

Overall I'm pleased with how it's coming together. I am getting antsy to get it off the design wall, though, so I can play with something else. It's unusual for me to spend this much focused time and energy on one project. Normally I jump around between two or even three smaller projects.

I had a six inch hole to fill so I made this block using bits of a Project Runway print:

I've also been using up those patches I cut for Bow Tie blocks a while back as I've been working on this project. I'm going to have to cut some more before I go much further. (Guess that can be my other project for the time being...)

My most recent order from arrived today. Nothing like buying presents for yourself!

All of these fabrics were on sale. I had to have the bright tropical print on top - someday there's going to be a quilt using that palette. The next three under it are for future preemie quilts. The green was another one I just had to have. The black is a possible border fabric for this friendship quilt.

I'm thinking I may have to start a new stack in my stash just for the prints I've been collecting for preemie quilts. My collecting is getting ahead of my creating ;- )

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Happy, Happy Day!

But we'll get to that in a moment ;- )

I've made some progress with the friendship blocks. I was frankly freaking out about this project early in the day yesterday. I think part of the problem was that I didn't have a clear plan of attack. After working with the bits and pieces for a while I began to understand how it needed to be assembled. By the end of the day I was able to actually get some of the blocks and checkerboard units sewn together and now I feel much better about it. I'm pretty happy with the way it's looking so far.

As you look at these pictures keep in mind that the columns of blocks on the right side are hanging crooked. Consequently they overlap slightly, making it a bit of a challenge to gauge how they're going to look in the end. For example, I thought the Sunbonnet Sue block was the same size as the Spiderweb or Kaleidoscope block beneath it. In reality it's half an inch skinnier. Hmm...

I still have quite a bit of work to do but it may be hard to maintain momentum because of this:

My altered version of Gwen & Freddy's new book arrived late yesterday! Woohoo! I've already skimmed through it and am anxious to dig deeper. My sweet SIL did this for me, technically for my birthday in June. Hope she'll forgive me for opening my present early ;- )

Monday, May 25, 2009

Aww Sheet!

Since my last post the Flower Garden Shoo Fly top has been taken to the quilter. She expects to have it ready for me by the end of this week. I'll have the camera back then too so you'll get to see how I resolved the problem with the blocks that were not getting along together. In the meantime, I dedicated myself to using this holiday weekend to make some real progress on this set of friendship blocks:

I'm afraid to go back and see when I first posted this picture. Suffice to say that these blocks are all dated from 2002. They've not been on the sheet that long, but the sheet has been hanging in front of my studio closet doors for far too long! These are all friendship blocks that were made per my request. I asked my guild buddies to make a block of their choice (preferably a favorite pattern of theirs) but to restrict their color choices to black and white prints and hot pink. They were also supposed to keep the finished size of the blocks divisible by two. You know, 12" blocks or 10" blocks or 8 inches or 6 inches. I would even have accepted 4" blocks! As I have been working with these blocks I've discovered that I have a couple that would have finished at 7.5" or 9" (very few of them actually finish at the size they were intended to be - but I expected that). I knew there was a reason I kept putting off tackling this project ;- )

One of my friends made a simple double four-patch block. When I laid the blocks out on the sheet I decided to break that block into two units for the purpose of balancing out the two sides of the quilt top. You might be able to see that in the first picture. Eventually that led me to the decision to use checkerboards as the spacer units between the blocks. I really didn't want the blocks all mashed up side by side, but neither did I want more traditional sashing.

Shortly after I started working on this I knew I would have to move that sheet or those blocks somewhere, somehow. All that pinning and unpinning as I moved elements around was just too tedious to tolerate. My flannel design wall is not big enough to accommodate all of these blocks and I wasn't comfortable trying to work on this in blind sections as it were. I wasn't even sure the sheet would fit between the two doors at either end of what constitutes my design wall. As it turns out it does, but just barely. So I've hung the sheet over my design wall and now I can push the pins into the Styrofoam insulation board that's between the flannel and the wall itself, at least for the section I'm working on at the moment. Much better! I may even have this mostly together by the time the floral quilt comes home. (But don't hold your breath!)

And now I leave you with this little quilt in honor of those who gave their lives in the service of our country...

May their sacrifices never be forgotten.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Floral Shoo Fly

Here are eleven of the blocks I made to add to the 31 I already had for my floral Shoo Fly quilt top:

My blocks tended to be brighter and darker than those I started with. Which made it a real challenge to distribute values and colors evenly across the surface of the quilt. This didn't help either:

I did finally come up with a layout I could live with. There are places where I would make slight changes if I could but I'm more committed to including as many of the original blocks as possible. As it was I left three out of the top, and they were all made by someone else.

Once I had the blocks sewn together I discovered an issue I could not live with. Even as I was sewing the blocks together I thought I must have turned a couple the wrong way around. Did I really intend to put this yellow and this peach block side by side? Yuck! It hurts my eyes!

When I downloaded the pictures I'd taken I discovered what had happened. I was laying the blocks out on my bed, and even on that surface I was running out of room. To compensate I had overlapped the last couple of rows of blocks. The peachy block was barely visible amongst its' neighbors.

I let it rest overnight. Come morning I knew I would have to do something to correct the situation. The peach block had been made by someone else so I chose to remove the yellow block. I felt very fortunate to find a softer yellow floral print in my stash that was absolutely perfect. I don't have a lot of floral prints to begin with, and finding the right color to slide into that hole quadrupled the challenge. You'll have to wait to see the change because I don't have access to the camera at the moment. Trust me, it's a big improvement. :- )

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Second Toy Drop

Here's the little ball I made for The Toy Society:

And another view:

I used to make these balls for my own children some 20 years ago. The patches for this ball were still in my stash from way back then. The fabric is that polyester sort-of-flannel stuff they make for children's sleepwear. I must have cut the pieces just right because this ball turned out almost perfectly round. If you cut them going the wrong way on the grain of woven fabrics they sometimes come out kind of wonky. Too bad I don't remember which is the right way! (Of course I didn't mark it on my pattern piece.)

I left this toy near the front door of a health clinic in my own town on my way back from delivering the Foodie Quilt. Stopping at the dentist's office for the first drop gave me the idea to leave the ball here. I'd never been to this particular building before so I didn't know what I would find in terms of places to leave the toy. There wasn't much of an entrance. As you can see, I ended up tying it up in a young tree. It will at least be more visible than the dog I left on the backside of the statue.

I could see one of the clients in the clinic watching me through the narrow window when I took this picture so I'm pretty confident this toy will have been taken to a new home by now.
:- )

First Toy Drop

I read about The Toy Society over on Carol's blog a short while ago and then went to check it out for myself on their blog and Flickr site. What a cool project! I immediately knew I had to play along. But what toy to make? I checked out the links to free patterns on The Toy Society's blog. I went through the doll and stuffed animal patterns in my stash. Hmmm...

In the end I designed my own little puppy dog. Just a pancake style toy but with floppy ears that hang loose.

Now, where to leave it? Making that decision actually took longer than it took to make the toy. I had to drive over to a nearby town to deliver the Foodie Quilt today so I took the dog with me, all bagged and tagged. This town has an annual chain saw carving contest as part of its' Fourth of July festivities. A lot of the shop owners have purchased the various carvings; there are statues and benches and all of it is wonderful.

On one corner there's a dental clinic that's virtually hemmed in by wooden statues. Going to the dentist was always a scary proposition for me when I was a kid (to be honest, it still is) so I thought a new little companion might help someone cope today.

Unfortunately I had to tuck the bag in around the backside of this particular statue. I just hope it was spotted and collected before the rain began this afternoon!

It was a bit of a challenge for me to make this drop inconspicuously. I already stand out from the crowd because of the face mask I wear when I go out in public. The carvings gave me an excuse of sorts for taking pictures but I still felt very obvious as I fooled around trying to leave the toy behind. There weren't many people out and about at the time but the street was full of parked cars so I was afraid someone would show up any minute and catch me in the act.

I made a soft ball and dropped it off today too. Stay tuned for that story...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Time for a Treat...

...because I have two finishes to celebrate! The food quilt is officially done, binding and label and everything. I'll probably turn it in on Tuesday.

I also finished this wall hanging. All it needs now is a good title/name. (I thought I had one in the middle of the night the other night but I didn't get up to write it down. Do you think I can remember it now? Of course not.) I'm open to suggestions.

This measures about 23" wide by 20" high.

I don't know what possessed me to pick this up and work on it again all of a sudden. Guess I've just been in a handwork kind of mood lately. I used scatter stitching to hand quilt the purple areas around the hearts, in a blend of rayon and silk flosses. Next time I'll probably go back to beads. For some reason I enjoy sewing beads onto a quilt more than I enjoyed this process. Go figure.

Haven't begun the batik blocks I was threatening to make a few posts ago. Instead I dug out this stack of Shoo Fly blocks and will be making a few more so there are enough to cover my bed. It's been looking like summer around here for the last 24 hours or so, and what's more appropriate than a quilt of summer-y garden flowers?

These blocks began their lives as entries in a block of the month drawing in my local quilt guild. I was the fortunate one to win the blocks. (Woohoo!) I think about a dozen of them were made by other quilters. I don't remember how many I originally made for the drawing (your name goes into the hat once for each block you make). I do know that I liked the blocks so much that I decided to keep making them so I could eventually have a bed quilt for myself. There are currently 31 in the stack. Last night I figured I would need 42 to get the size quilt I want. That shouldn't take long ;- )

Remember the batik scraps I said I'd found recently? This is what I did with them.

Just orphan blocks at this point, but you never know what they will become someday!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


The Foodie Quilt is back from the quilter. I still have to make the binding but I trimmed it and spread it out on my bed just to see how it would look.

That's DD's pillow on the bed too. Amazing how well it co-ordinates with the everday pillowcase!

I got up full of energy yesterday so this is what I did:

Last week or so I signed up to make the word 'play' for Tonya's four letter word quilt. I had to draw the letters out on graph paper to make sure they would fit into the 6" x 12" brick format she asked for. Between the P and the A and the Y I was afraid my block would be more like 20" long!

It turned out pretty well if I do say so myself :- )

This morning I had another bright idea. I thought Tonya could use more letters for her quilt so I did this:

Can you see that the letters are made out of letter prints? You should be able to click on the picture to see it in a larger format. I cleaned up the edges of this block for its' picture but left it slightly bigger than 6 x 12". Tonya can trim it down as necessary. It ended up being kind of skewed before I sewed the final edging strips on so I compensated with those final strips of background fabric.

I have to say, the easier letters have left me feeling like I might want to do some words for myself someday. I suspect my words will be a good deal larger though. Those strips of green between the letters in the word 'more' are only half an inch wide. Talk about fiddly work!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Fairies in the Garden

So yesterday was Mother's Day here in the United States. I had a lovely day, with one exception.

My DD bought this beautiful fairy print a couple of years ago on the rare occasion when we were at a quilt shop together. At the time the idea was that I would make a wallhanging out of it for her. The quilters among you can probably guess what happened next. Or rather, what didn't happen.

To be fair, it wasn't all my fault. I didn't make the wallhanging right away (that was the part you guessed, right?) and then she decided she didn't really want another thing to hang on her walls anyway. So the fairies went to the bottom of the pile again.

For her Mother's Day I wanted to finally use at least some of the fabric to make a gift for her. DD and her family go to one of the few remaining drive-in theaters in the country as often as they can, and they take every pillow they own when they go to make the experience as comfy as possible. So I thought I would make her another pillow. I fussy cut the fairies and pieced a few simple blocks and had the top done in a resonably short time. (It's about 18" x 24".)

The back had me stumped for a while because, of course, I had nothing left of any of the other fabrics I'd used on the front. (Except for the fairies, but I didn't want to use them on the back.) Eventually I found a batik in my stash that had the same colors in it as the leaf print that borders the top. Got the pillow assembled and started stuffing it... and ran out of fiberfil. Of course I didn't think of doing this for her until the day before Mother's Day and I couldn't get any more fiberfil before she arrived to wish me a happy Mother's Day. {sigh} Oh well. They will be coming through here again next weekend; I'll give it to her then. :- )

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Happiness is Hot Water and Bluebirds

Who'd a thunk that having a new water heater installed in the attached garage would take me down for two days? Apparently enough of the fumes from whatever chemicals the plumber used seeped into our living spaces to incapacitate me. Go figure.

For those who may be interested, we ended up just replacing the existing water heater with a new one. Turns out that since we already had an electric tank in place going tank-less wouldn't improve our efficiency enough to offset the extra cost and inconveniences. That made the decision much easier to make.

These are the stragglers of the scrappy blocks I'd been making...

There are a few batik blocks too but I haven't photographed them yet. I had a very pleasant surprise in the mail and photographed it instead.

Remember the Birds of Change Exchange and the give-away I did? Well, others also hosted give-aways and I won one!

These delightful little bluebirds are from Kristin over at kleas. They even came with their own nest! Both birds are made from recycled materials: the bigger, darker bird out of velvet and the smaller bird out of a knit. My favorite parts are the tails and crests made out of real feathers.

Kristin does a lot of different crafts and teaches at a preschool in her area. The kid in me would love to be one of the students in her class. Reading about their activities even fired up my middle-aged brain!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Spring Couldn't Be Any Prettier!

We are having a spectacularly beautiful day. Another one! We had a bit of cloud cover yesterday and rain last night, but today is gorgeous again. This is what one corner downtown looked like earlier in the week:

And the river along whose banks our fair city was built:

I gotta say, when the weather cooperates, this place can't be beat!

Unfortunately, our household had a bit of a rude awakening this morning. Our water heater developed a leak overnight. There was some mopping up to do, bathing was brief and chilly, and now we have to shop for a new water heater. Anyone out there had any experience with tankless water heaters yet?

I think I'm about done with the scrappy blocks for the time being. I found myself getting bored with them the other day.

I pulled all the blocks out and played with them on the design wall a bit but nothing came together. I guess they will go back into the orphan box for the time being and wait for the muse to come by and inject some magic into them.

There are almost 50 Shoo Fly blocks, nearly 40 Churn Dash blocks,
between 30 and 40 Bow Ties, and four butterfly blocks.

I'm not entirely done cutting scraps for patches though. I found some short pieces of batiks leftover from other projects and have begun cutting them up for future use. This little task may be the bridge I need to get me making blocks for either the new batik quilt for myself or the one for my DH. I'm not entirely sure of the color scheme I'm going to use for his so I may begin with mine. Let's face it, there are a lot more bright, tropical batiks in my stash than the darker ones!