Saturday, December 31, 2016

Really? Already?

December 31! How did that happen? Oh yeah, about half the month has been spent in recovery from toxic exposures. Even now I'm trying to cope with back-to-back exposures. Granted, they were relatively low-grade exposures but each one takes its' toll. {sigh}

I made up a total of ten pillowcases to be gifted this season. These are the ones I made for the four granddaughters:

My husband, the movie fanatic, received a case featuring fictional movie end credits. One of the bookworms in the family has a book print on the end of her pillowcase. I really enjoy finding just the right prints for each person.

I had to take the shoo-fly blocks off the wall for the time being. I didn't have the energy to pursue other layouts and now we need heat day and night (the wall heater was covered by my design wall extensions). A moment of panicked realization caused me to start work on a baby quilt for a baby due on February 1. He'll be a first child so there's no guarantee he'll arrive on time but it's time to get busy making his quilt nevertheless! That meant a rummage through the stash.

Back in the day I bought this yardage of panels in bright, happy colors and then didn't know what to do with it. Sound familiar? I fussy-cut some of the panels but decided to cut construction time by leaving nine of them together. To bring the panel up to a better working size I added the stripe all around.

I wanted to utilize more of the animal panels if I could so four of them were put in the middle of "barn doors." This elongated version of a Churn Dash block is what I know as Hole in the Barn Door.

I made four to hold the four corners of the finished quilt. Then I went through my 8" postage stamp stars that I'd made throughout the year in conjunction with the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. I found enough to get about halfway around the central panel. Yesterday I made an additional six stars.

The teal/turquoise stars a are a bit of a stretch as far as the colors in the panel go but I think I can make them work. The question now is what to use to fill in around the stars. My LQS is having their year-end sale. I went downtown one day this week but couldn't even go through the door because of the perfume a previous customer wore. Went back yesterday, late, and was able to spend a bundle! I think I have a print now that will work around those stars, and a lot of other fun prints to play with as well. :D

I'm linking up with the RSC for this final link party of the year. I'm also looking forward to playing along in 2017 again, although I haven't entirely decided how I will approach it.

I hope all my cyber friends have had a lovely holiday season. We thoroughly enjoyed our Christmas celebrations. I'm looking forward to a productive and colorful new year, and wish the best for all of you too!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

SAL December - A Finish!

It's been three weeks since out last check-in with the Stitch Along group. Knowing this check-in was coming up motivated me to consider my current embroidery and needlepoint projects. Which one to work on? The decision was almost made for me when I was in Hobby Lobby last week. I don't go in very often so when I do I try to make the most of it. This time I went in for a couple of things for Christmas for the grands but cruised the fabric and needlework aisles while I was there. (Frankly, I cruised the whole store but the toxic fumes took their toll after I'd made the most important selections.) In the back of my mind I knew I needed a flesh tone for the Jenny Hart panel I've been working on. Almost without thinking I picked up a skein of DMC floss as I drifted past. It turned out to be a perfect choice. :- )

Here's where I left the panel:

It didn't take long to outline the arms and face. After that it seemed silly not to just go ahead and complete the picture!

I did little satin stitched eyes on the birds. I thought they would be French knots originally. The flowers all have French knot centers. I added the bit of shading on the bird's breasts.

Here's the panel after laundering:

I don't know whether you can detect much difference in the photos but it made a difference in real life. I've had several ideas about how to mount this or add patchwork around it. The thing is, it's already hemmed, with tiny stitches that would be a bear to try to take out. The hem is significantly thicker than the rest of the panel. I may just give it to my daughter to pin to a wall in one of the grands bedroom. It's the lazy way out, I know. Still, better to have it pinned to a wall than languishing while I dither about what else to do. ;- )

To see what the others in the group have been working on click on their names below. We are welcoming Steph this time around. If you'd like to join in contact Avis. Maybe the next time we check in, in another three weeks, I'll have returned to my crown needlepoint case. Or maybe not!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Time Out

I've been playing with those 199 shoo-fly blocks. Maybe I'm making it harder on myself than it needs to be but things are not coming together as easily as you might think they would. I mean, I have 199 blocks for heaven's sake! Surely I ought to be able to set 120 of them together in a pleasing arrangement.

First I did this:

It was when I reached that lower corner that I thought about that yellow panel. It's been in my stash for years, a thoughtful gift from my SIL. I've tried a couple of times to build a quilt around it but it's still waiting for the right time and place.

Somehow using it in this very scrappy quilt seemed like a good idea. It still does. So I tried building around the panel.

This is better in some respects but I'm still not happy with it. Our weather has taken a turn toward the frigid, and my son brought in a gift quilt that needs to be bound so this is what my design wall looks like at the moment:

You will note, if you look carefully, that I have to fold and pin the design wall extension up out of the way of the wall heater and thermostat. I might not worry about the room getting cold during the night if it weren't for my studio canary, Pippen.

I'll be pruning that quilt and applying its binding before I making another run at the shoo-fly blocks. One of these days I'm going to have to apply myself to the job of preparing for Christmas too!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

It's Just the Tip of the Iceberg!

So after counting up the 6" Bow Tie blocks in my Parts Department I thought it might be interesting or worthwhile to ascertain how many Shoo-fly and Hole in the Barn Door blocks I currently have. I wasn't prepared for the numbers although goodness knows I should have been.

Here we have Shoo-fly blocks on the left,
Hole in the Barn Door blocks in the back right (a variation of Churn Dash),
and the deceptively numerous Bow Ties in front.

Are you ready for the side view?

And now for the numbers:

  • 201 Shoo-fly blocks
  • 165 Hole in the Barn Doors
  • 106 Bow Ties
  •  and just for kicks, 69 Ships

These were not part of my official Rainbow Scrap Challenge effort. They're just the blocks I've made as leaders-enders out of the rest of the scraps in my stash!

I kept myself up again last night trying to figure out how to reduce these numbers with relative ease and speed. I'd spent some time yesterday afternoon playing around with assorted blocks on the design wall but in the light of the new day I have decided I was working under some form of delusion. Now it's time to see whether either of the ideas I had in the middle of the night are any better...

I'm linking up with other scrappy bloggers over at SoScrappy for moral support.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Umm, I May Have a Problem

This doesn't look too bad does it?

That's my current inventory of 6" Bow Tie blocks. In the photo they've been sorted into two stacks of ties with dark backgrounds, a stack of ties on medium backgrounds, and one short stack of ties on white. Anyone care to guess how many there are in total? I realize the photo hasn't been shot in a way that will help you. Let me just say my son's guess of 32 was way too low.

This is slightly frightening because I also have a drawer, six inches deep, that is chock full of Shoo-fly and Hole in the Barn Door blocks (also 6" each). I mean, I have to push down on the blocks to get the drawer to close!

It may be time to stop making blocks and start making a large quilt out of small blocks...

(By the way, there are 106 Bow Ties in the picture.)

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Thursday Happiness and My Diary Quilt

Today is another opportunity to make the most of one blog post. ;- ) It's time to share a couple of things that make me happy along with LeeAnn over at Not Afraid of Color. One of those things is my Diary Quilt, my take on Audrey's Quilty 365 quilt along over at Quilty Folk. Another is novelty prints.

So far my Diary Quilt is still just rows or columns of 2.5" x 6.5" strips, one for each day of the past year. I put the last strip on the last row on November 19.

I have 13 rows/columns in total but they won't all fit on the design wall until I get them sewn together. Therein lies the challenge: what to use to set the rows? I've got every color in the rainbow in the strips. I used white for Sundays and wrote a scripture verse reference on each one. Whatever I use to set the rows needs to recede into the background, not compete for attention with the rows. I can't sew them together until I've made that decision because each row needs a compensating strip added to the top and bottom to make them all the same length. Whether or not there will be an outer border remains to be seen.

I'm already missing the act of choosing a strip a day. There were days when sewing a few strips together was just the ticket to get my day started. One of the fun things about choosing strips was the chance to feature a novelty print.

Sometimes those novelty prints were actually going into a quilt I was working on at the time!

I mentioned how much I enjoy fussy cutting novelty prints in a recent post. I've been making stars featuring prints that reflect the interests and activities of my daughter's FIL. He's a fan of science fiction and a follower of Dr. Who. Here's the Doctor's space ship, the TARDIS:

The star points were cut from a separate Dr. Who print that has the sound the TARDIS makes as it materializes and dematerializes. There have been special episodes of Dr. Who on television for Christmas every year for the last few years. Naturally I had to use a Dr. Who TARDIS print around a Santa print!

He also owned more than one diner throughout his lifetime, which involved pouring a lot of coffee.

Everyone should have lots of money in their lives.

You can't have enough Peanuts either. ;- )

I'll be linking up with both LeeAnn and Audrey. Do yourself a favor and go have a look for yourself!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Stitch Along Check-in

When last I showed you this small needlepoint Stitch & Zip case I'd only put in some of the background.

Since then I have begun to make the color changes I kept seeing in my mind's eye when I considered this project.

This is labeled as an English crown but I guess my Irish is coming through! Every time I looked at the design I saw an emerald green velvet cap surrounded by a framework of gold. I'm not quite sure what I'll do about the gem stones indicated. Since the background is white, pearls may be out of the running.

There are stitchers  around the world participating in this SAL. We check in every three weeks. It's amazing how helpful a deadline can be. If you'd like to get motivated in this way drop Avis an email. We're welcoming Helen to the group this time - welcome Helen!

See you in December!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thursday Happiness

It's Thanksgiving Thursday here in the States. Our small turkey will be ready in a couple of hours. On Thanksgiving - and Christmas - I'm particularly grateful for my husband's willingness to roast a turkey for me because this panel pretty much says it all:

I'm very fortunate to have a husband who cares enough to go the extra mile for me. Even better, he makes me laugh. Like Elizabeth Bennet, I dearly love to laugh. He appreciates and supports my artistic endeavors too. Yup, I'm a lucky woman. ;- )

Another thing that makes me happy is completing a quilt top (bet you didn't see that coming!). Remember those pink Patience Corner blocks I started a little while ago? And then they took over and became a whole set for a twin size quilt? I played around with the traditional setting for those blocks but was never happy with the results.

So then I decided to throw caution to the winds and turn some of the blocks ninety degrees.

That didn't thrill me either. I kept moving them around and eventually stumbled on this layout:

And after some tweaking of block placements this was the result:

Yes, there's a narrow black border all the way around. The dots are tiny white flowers with pink centers. It couldn't be more perfect! I love a happy ending. That goes for the books and movies I most enjoy too. I'll have to be sure to cover those topics on another Happy Thursday.

To continue your journey on the happy train hop over to LeeAnn's blog to see what's making her happy this week. Oh, and have a warm and cozy Thanksgiving Day wherever you are!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Thursday Happiness

LeeAnn over at Not Afraid of Color recently began a series of posts on Thursdays in which she celebrates the things that make her happy. I've enjoyed her posts and thought it would be beneficial to follow her good example. I don't get out as much as everyone else so it might be a bit more challenging but let's start with...

Fabric for a new project!

This pile (or most of it) was recently acquired for a quilt for my daughter's father-in-law. This is going to be a fun quilt to make as it caters to my natural inclination to fussy-cut novelty prints. The prints reflect Tom's tastes and experiences in life. My plan is to feature them in more sawtooth stars. Part of the fun of this  project will be the fact that our tastes often run along the same lines. :- ) I'll have to show you some of the blocks next Thursday!

We've had a ton of rain and cloud cover lately. So it was a particular happiness when the skies cleared and the sun shone brightly. And then I heard the swans commuting overhead.

You might be able to see them better by double-clicking on the picture. That morning there was flock after flock after flock of them. They spend winters here, gleaning food from the fields around us where potatoes and peas and tulips and other good things are grown.

There are a couple of other bloggers who've responded to LeeAnn's invitation. Pop over to her blog to see who else is playing along and to see what's making her happy this week.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Scrap Happy in November

I'm slowly recovering from the shock of the results of the Presidential election here in the States. In an effort to come out of the darkness I went to my LQS for some retail therapy. These are the building blocks I'd use if I were going to build any kind of wall!

My goal was to stick to the clearance department unfortunately. I did pretty well but didn't think to get any pictures for you.

Some scrap cutting and sewing has been taking place although not as much as I'd like.

Specifically for Scrap Happy Day I dug into my narrow strips. I've foundation pieced them onto batting scraps. The plan is to use them as pot holder backs. I'll quilt 8" blocks from my Parts Dept. to more batting scraps for the fronts.

Or maybe I'll just sew them together in pairs, right sides together, and have double-sided strings!

With any kind of luck I'll be able to show you the pink Patience Corner blocks all set together soon. In the meantime, to see more scrappy goodness pop over to Tall Tales from Chiconia or Rutigt for the full list of participants.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

SAL Update

Sorry, folks, I've got nothing to show you. No progress on any of my handwork projects. Nada. Zip. Zero. Rien. But undoubtedly there are others who have accomplished lovely things in the last three weeks. Take a quick trip around the world to see what the others in the group have been up to!

Maybe by the time of our next check-in, 27 November, I'll have something to share. :- )

Monday, October 31, 2016

Calorie-Free Treats

It's Halloween here in the States. I don't go in for the horror aspect of the holiday but regular visitors to The Magpie's Nest will know that I enjoy the macabre. A couple of years ago when it became apparent that handing out treats at the door wasn't worth the risk involved to my health I chose to make up for that deprivation by leaving my more favorite decorations out all year round. To that end I created this display in a hallway:

I also have this photo of our second granddaughter from when she was about three years old:

No surprise then that we're big fans of Tim Burton's animated movies and Dia de Muertos!

On a quilt-y note, here are some of the blocks I've already sewn up as a result of having cut remnants into patches.

Rather than color (as in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge) I've been focusing on prints that could pass as reproductions of 19th century fabrics, which helped made the decision about block patterns easier. I don't know how long I'll be able to keep this palette going but at least it's a place to start. I've moved some things around, emptying boxes that now corral the patches I've cut and haven't used yet. It's all a process, and will continue as long as it's effective!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Planning Ahead

I've had several bad days since my last post. But I've also been thinking about how best to prepare for such days in the future. There are days when I can sew as long as I don't have to think about what I'm doing. So while my brain is functional I've developed a cutting menu. 

Over the last two days I've managed to cut almost a dozen small pieces of yardage into patches! Some have been paired up - focal prints and backgrounds - but others are only the equivalent of  half a block.

I'm thinking now that I'm going to need some sort of container for these pre-cut patches. I'll need to be able to label them so I know what blocks those patches are intended to become! Meanwhile, I've been able to sew up some random blocks I had prepped earlier.

I will be linking up with the RSC on Saturday. Hopefully I'll be feeling well enough then to get around to see what everyone else has been up to. ;- ) 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Barely Stitching Along

There hasn't been a lot of hand work happening here in The Magpie's Nest since the last SAL check in. I put in a small section of stitches on the koi needlepoint canvas. This is how it looked the last time I shared it:

I've filled in a bit more of that section next to the tail since then.

I've also begun work on a new stitch & zip coin/card case.

All I've done so far is some of the white background. Can you even see it?

Others have no doubt made more progress on their stitchery projects You should go and see!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Orange You Scrap Happy?

Today is an opportunity for me to link up with both the RSC and Scrap Happy Day with Kate and Gun. I thought I might have done something with more of the scraps from my liberated medallion effort but that hasn't been the case. I got tired of those dark tones so I pulled out some oranges for the RSC palette this month.

I also pulled out my orange Ohio Stars from last year. I'd started making stepping stone blocks to go with them but I knew I needed more. Before I could think about making anything for this project a new postage stamp star crept in to the mix.

I only made two more stepping stone blocks but what a difference in the overall appearance!

I have to decide how big I want this to get. I'm not enjoying the stepping stone block construction a whole lot. This may very well become the center of a new medallion quilt. Maybe I can get more stepping stones made if I branch out and make other blocks in orange on white...

I'm linking up with both the Rainbow Scrap Challenge bloggers and those playing along with Kate and Gun for Scrap Happy Day.

Now I have to hurry up and write a post for tomorrow's Stitch Along  post. We lost our power yesterday when the first arm of the disintegrating typhoon hit us. The second front is supposed to be even stronger so we 're in Preparation Mode!