Sunday, January 29, 2017

SAL - A Surprise Finish

You may remember that I've been working on the crown design needlepoint case in recent SAL posts. I think this is where it was when you last saw it:

I was making good progress, although I had to take out a bunch of work along the lower edge of the crown when it didn't line up right.

I'm quite pleased with the way it looks now that I've corrected the design line and finished up the major elements of the crown.

But instead of finishing the crown I found myself working on this tulip design:

This was another one I wanted to alter as I worked on it. I'm not a fan of detail stitches and I wanted to try out some variegated floss I'd acquired.

They were used in the green areas at the bottom of the case. I also blended a couple shades of orange for those petals of the tulip. Makes me wish I'd thought to do the same in other areas, like the leaves. Oh well. I haven't blocked this yet but it looks pretty good anyway.

There are several of us participating in these stitch along updates every three weeks. I invite you to take an inspiring tour by clicking on their names below.

Maybe my crown will be done for the next SAL in February!

Friday, January 27, 2017

All Purpled Out

We're coming to the end of the first month of this year's Rainbow Scrap Challenge. The color prompt for the month of January was purple. These are the blocks I've made most recently:

I've decided to add 16 patch blocks to my Rainbow collection this year. There will probably only be a few each month. They may come in handy as alternate blocks when it's time to build a rainbow quilt top at the end of the year. I had patches in the right sizes for the 10" and 7.5" Wrench (or Churn Dash) blocks so I made those up just to use the patches.

And here we have another postage stamp star with some lighter purples.

The Bow Tie blocks are just 6" like the Shoo-fly and Hole in the Barn Door blocks but they look bigger in this picture for some reason!

Angela has invited us to show quilts or tops we've made featuring our RSC blocks. I've shown this little baby quilt recently but it's been quilted and bound since then so I thought I'd show it again. ;- )

Many of those stars were made last year during my RSC efforts. James took his quilting cues from the setting fabric I used in the middle and around the  perimeter of the quilt.

The thoughts expressed in the print I used for the back seemed appropriate for a baby quilt even though it's not technically a juvenile print.

I'll be linking up with the other Rainbow Scrap bloggers. There will be lots of inspiration to see I bet!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Bee, Myself and I - Take Two

When I learned of Carla's personal challenge to make a few blocks each month for herself it sounded like a good idea. I wanted to use it to keep on top of hand embroidery projects at that time. Since then I've joined the monthly stitch along (SAL) organized by Avis and her friends and my Bee participation dropped off. Now I think I've found a specific project that fits the bill.

Granny Maud's Girl: Bee, Myself and I

One type of fabric I can't seem to resist collecting are batiks in pure, tropical colors. I haven't been able to come up with a plan for using them however. Something fun to make, something that would show off the colors to advantage, something that would make me happy on dreary days. Then I started using up my 3" scrap strips to make Truly Scrappy Trip blocks (as opposed to scrappy trips in organized color palettes). Shortly afterward I had a light bulb moment: what about scrappy trip blocks in the batiks I like best? Duh! Once I get the strips cut it will be fun to sort them into potential blocks. The assembly process is familiar enough now to be fairly mindless on those days when my brain isn't working well. The challenge might be in restricting myself to just a couple of blocks each month! To that end, here are my first two blocks:

My plan at the moment is to keep the blocks pretty monochromatic. I think I'm going to stick to a yellow, orange, and pink palette for the most part too. I may add in some bright blues and lime greens later on, we'll have to see. I already have my Grandma's Box of Crayons quilt...

So I think I'll want to try to blend the colors of the blocks from one block to the next instead of keeping them separate like I did with this one.

Look for my next Bee post toward the end of February. This weekend there will be an RSC link party and a SAL post. I'm happy to report there's been progress on both of those fronts!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Prayer Flag

I learned about prayer flags several years ago and was intrigued with the idea of a physical manifestation of hopes and desires. I've seen prayer flags others have made since then and of course I wanted to play along. Not until recently have I been motivated enough to take action however. I'll give you three guesses as to what prompted the creation of my first prayer flag, and the first two don't count. ;- )

I was working with my purple scraps when I came across a piece of Cracked Ice from long, long ago. It was already the size prescribed as a base for prayer flags according to the format developed by a guest on Quilting Arts TV. (If you search 'prayer flag project' you'll find pertinent links.) That was all I needed to get me going.

Next I cut a square of wool felt, and when I pulled it from my stash I also found this piece of hand dyed something - I don't know what it is. It has sort of the texture of thin paper. It's not woven, it might be an interfacing material. Whatever, it seemed appropriate to use. I stitched the word free hand - I tried to keep the whole project quick and spontaneous although it took most of my working day to reach completion.

I added the turtle as a reference to the humble tortoise in Aesop's fable of the tortoise and the hare. The crescent moon was added because the moon gives lesser light than the sun but still has it's moments of shining brightly. I stitched the heart charm down with red thread in a zig zag to indicate a broken heart, the essence of humility.

When I was rummaging around for the wool felt and other bits I came across strands of dyed silk ribbon that blended beautifully with the lavender of the background fabric. I made them into a tassel to be stirred by the breezes, thus carrying my prayer out into the world.

So far it has only hung on the fence for a day. I want to make more flags and string them together. In the meantime, this one hangs in my studio where I can be reminded to practice humility even as I pray for humility in our nation's leaders.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Confession Time

I've had a skeleton in my closet.

Behind that skeleton is a set of shelves loaded with yardage, not all of it quilting cottons.

And this is what poor Ruby Blue has been laboring under for months:
Ruby Blue is my second machine.
She's great for zipping up long
straight seams and applying bindings.
Stacks of blocks that are technically part of my Parts Department. That's not the only stack in the studio either.

My local quilt guild holds an auction every year in January. The monies raised are used to fund our charitable activities. I've pretty well cleared out the books I could bear to part with. I've never been one to collect patterns or rulers or other gadgets. The one thing I have too much of (if that's even possible!) is fabric. The logical conclusion was to take advantage of the auction and share my wealth.

To that end I have cleared out 99.9% of my flannels. Of all the fabric in my stash I figured they were the least likely to be used in the near future. Most of them were infant or juvenile prints anyway, and there are gals in the guild who focus on making preemie quilts. My focus needs to be on utilizing what's in my Parts Department.

Empty shelf!

Look how well the pizza boxes I use for block storage fit on that empty shelf:

And now Ruby Blue is free of her heavy burden. I can use her more easily and more often to make more blocks and bind more quilts. ;- )

No doubt there's further organizing that could take place here in The Magpie's Nest. For the time being however, I need to return to activities that are more fun. In particular I'm hearing the siren call of tropical batiks...

Saturday, January 14, 2017


Today is the link party for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge hosted by Angela and tomorrow is ScrapHappy Day hosted by Kate in Australia and Gun in Sweden. Since it's all about scraps let's toss 'em in the bin together!

I wasn't sure I would have purple blocks to show already for the RSC but a couple of days of sorting, then cutting, allowed me to sit and sew yesterday. This is the result:

In the spirit of full disclosure, two of the blocks on the wall were there before I started in on my purple patches. Still, not bad for one day. :- ) The baskets are 8" blocks. There are two 10" blocks whose name I don't know that are for the block of the month drawing in my local quilt guild.

For ScrapHappy Day I went through my scrap 3" strips to see what could be done with them. I've never really settled on a specific way to organize my strips. By length? By color? I had them sorted by length, according to the ways I'm most likely to use them. Now that I've been involved with the RSC for a couple of years sorting them by color seems more useful. So I reorganized them by color. I was able to use the longer strips to make 15" Scrappy Trip blocks.

I made up ten blocks. It would only take twenty to make a decent size quilt (60" x 75").  We'll see how many I get made for February's ScrapHappy Day!

To see more scrappy blocks you can find links over at TallTalesfromChiconia and SoScrappy. In the meantime, I think I'm going to have to clear out some space somehow to enlarge my Parts Department...!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

First Finish of the Year


I haven't blogged about the FootSquareFreestyle block swap (rounds one or two) very often. Mostly out of reluctance to spoil the surprise for the participant each month but also due to LBS (lame brain syndrome). Now that we're approaching the end of F2F2 I have a finished F2F quilt to show you.

To recap, there were twelve participants in the first F2F. We each made three blocks for one person a month, our choice of block but in colors the recipient had chosen. Of course we have free rein when it comes to assembling our blocks. Kate and Lynn and I think someone else quilted their blocks separately and then assembled them into quilts (in the quilt-as-you-go technique). I'm blessed to have a long arm quilter in the house so once I set the blocks I handed the parts over to him. It took us some time to decide on a quilting pattern. It was no easy matter to select thread color either, let me tell you! Finally we decided on a light lavender thread and a contemporary straight line design. It's not easy to see in the photographs but you get the idea from this detail shot:

We have a quiet, sunny day here today so I went out to the back deck and got some shots of my completed F2F quilt. I had to do it in two halves. I made my quilt big enough to use on our double bed so it measures about 85" square. Here's one half:

And here it is from the other end:

I see that even in this shot I didn't get the whole width in the picture! I'd like to get a single picture of the whole quilt but haven't yet figured out how to manage that. You'll notice that the blocks are grouped according to their predominant color. I made one extra block to fill out the middle polychrome section. I used my collection of black and white prints to make the sashing strips. I thought I would be using a rainbow print for binding but a black with a white line design looked better when it came down to it. Oh, and for the back I made sure to use some prints that had been given to me by other cyber friends, including one that features a lot of women friends. :- )

I confess that I have not put a label on this yet, but it's coming. For now I'm anxious to get it on the bed to see how it looks and feels!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

First 2017 SAL

There haven't been many opportunities for recreational stitching since our last update. This is where the crown needlepoint case was when last you saw it:

You may remember that I'm changing the color palette and tweaking the design as I go. That makes this more mentally demanding than than I generally want in my needlepoint projects. Nevertheless, some progress has been made:

We'll see whether I continue with this between now and the next update. That will be in three weeks. If you'd like to have some motivation to get your needlework projects completed in 2017 contact Avis at Sewing Beside the Sea. For further inspiration check out what the rest of the gang is up to:

Friday, January 6, 2017

Looking Back and Looking Forward

For this first Rainbow Scrap Challenge link-up of 2017 Angela has suggested we show quilts we've made from our scrappy rainbow blocks. I don't think I've yet made an entirely rainbow quilt. Rather, the blocks I've made have gone into several Parts Department quilts. (For the uninitiated, my Parts Dept. is comprised of various orphan blocks and units. I was inspired to create the Parts Dept. by the collaboration between Gwen Martson and Freddy Moran in their book, Collaborative Quilting.)

I watched from the sidelines for a year or two before I became actively involved with the RSC. My first official year was in 2015. I decided to use the RSC color prompts to use up prints that had been in my stash far too long. Since I rarely bought anything bigger than about a third of a yard in the early days of my quilting career these small cuts seemed like scraps to me. I looked for a block pattern that would use up large quantities of fabric in a hurry. I settled on 12" Ohio Stars. I bought white on white prints for the backgrounds but I also used colored backgrounds when I could. A lot of those blocks went into this 84" x 84" quilt that was eventually donated to our local women's transition home.

In 2016 I switched to smaller scraps and smaller blocks. I used 1.5" strips and squares to make 4" (finished) postage stamp units that I then used in 8" sawtooth star blocks. About half way through the year I spotted someone else making sailboats (was it you Gayle?) and got hooked on them. They helped to use smaller scraps. This little baby quilt came out of some of those blocks and a few remaining Ohio Stars. Without checking my notes I think it finished at about 40" x 56."

My local guild did a double four patch for the block of the month in the summer of 2016. That inspired me to use up more scraps, combine them with some of my postage stamp stars, and make this 48" x 56" quilt for a child in foster care.

Finally, I've used more of the postage stamp stars to border the baby quilt I've been working on most recently.

You can read about its' development in previous posts, just scroll down a bit. Once this has been quilted it will finish at about 48" x 56."

I think for 2017 I'm going to continue with the postage stamp stars but I don't want to limit myself to just the one block design. There will probably be more sailboats (6") and little Hole in the Barn Door blocks (also 6"). There's still old fabric that needs to be put to good use so I may look for a larger block again too. If you haven't been there already, hop on over to SoScrappy to see what everyone else has made or is planning to make this year.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

There's A First Time for Everything

I've never been one to make New Year's resolutions. I've avoided goal-setting like the plague (or more accurately, the dentist). This year however, I find myself planning and plotting in a way that closely resembles goal setting behavior. I don't know whether to be shocked or pleased. (Actually, I'm a bit of both. Maybe this is a sign of personal growth?)

I want to continue participating in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge this year. I think I'm going to use it again to reduce the quantity of older prints in my stash. I have quite the menu of block patterns I've been making on a regular basis now. I can start by cutting the larger patches for 10" basket and Churn Dash blocks and work my way down to the 1.5" strips for postage stamp stars. I don't have a specific plan for a rainbow quilt but will probably end up using these blocks in my Parts Dept. quilts throughout the year. Of course having said that, I'll probably not use one block in a quilt until the end of the year and then make a rainbow quilt!

I'm going to continue to post every three weeks for the Stitch Along too, or at least try to. I'm reserving that for the needlepoint and embroidery I like to do on occasion. I haven't made a lot of progress since the last post but there will be a little to show on the 8th of January.

Originally I was using Granny Maud's Girl's Bee, Myself & I challenge/sew along to insure progress on my needlepoint and embroidery. When I became involved with the stitch along the BM&I sort of dropped out of my life. Granny Maud's Girl created the challenge to give herself an excuse to make blocks she wanted for a quilt for herself. Following her example, my intention this year is to make Scrappy Trip blocks in my delicious batiks. I will probably follow the color prompts from the RSC but restrict myself to one or two blocks per month. Unless, of course, that project takes over and becomes undeniable. That's been known to happen a time or two. ;- )

I plan to continue to post on the 15th of each month for Kate and Gun's ScrapHappy Day. I don't have any specific plans for those posts at this point. Last year I made potholders out of some of my orphan blocks from the Parts Dept. Most recently I made some string blocks on scraps of batting. I might continue to do that for a while.

I have the binding on my F2F quilt finally and have begun hand sewing it down. I'm having to take that more slowly than I usually do because of some mysterious pain in my left hand. It feels like a sprain, I just don't know how or when it occurred. That will will be finished before the end of January I hope. At that time I'll have to get a good picture of it for you. It was too big for the design wall and is now heavier and bulkier! I still need to figure out how I want to set the dramatic blocks I received during my turn in the second round of the Foot Square Freestyle block swap.

Kate and I have decided there will not be a third round unless someone else wants to step up to oversee the swap.

There's the baby quilt to complete (see previous post), and later on I expect to participate in the Hands2Help quilt along. There's a relatively short list of UFO's to tackle eventually. I shouldn't have any trouble keeping busy this year!