Monday, April 30, 2018

Ten + One

Guess what? I've maintained this blog for eleven years now! I've slacked off in the last couple of years but I'm still here, checking in sporadically. If I were a more energetic, organized person I'd celebrate with a giveaway. Instead I'll just share what's currently on my design wall. 😊

These are the first of the blocks to come in from my local guild in response to my latest friendship block request. I asked for 7" wide "blocks" of assorted strips that would be appropriate for a quilt for a man or teenage boy. My intention is to make a Chinese Coins quilt for a young man in foster care or a male patient in hospice care. The size of the end product will depend on how many more blocks come in and how carried away I get in adding to what I've been given. 😉 I don't have a clue what I might use between the columns of strips. I'll figure that out later on.

I haven't been on the computer much of late due to a series of nasty headaches.

Consequently I haven't been responding to your lovely comments. Please know I do appreciate them and that I hope to feel well enough soon to get around to see what you've been up to lately.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

No Longer A UFO!

I have avoided the accumulation of UFO's (UnFinished Objects) since I accepted the fact that staying home is the best way for me to stay able-bodied. It's much easier to start and stay with a project when you don't have the distractions of work or other outside commitments. So there was a bit of psychic discomfort over the fact that I started and then stalled on a quilt for almost two years.

It all began with this darling panel:

When I first started working with it I added flying geese across the top and bottom.

Then I made sawtooth stars with fussy cut centers to frame the panel.

It was after I'd sewn these stars together and to the panel that I truly got stuck. The flimsy hung in the closet for nearly a year. When I  brought it out again last summer I decided to make Bear Paw units to create another framing border. I chose a whimsical print that was just waiting for the right project to come along. I used fussy cut images from that print for the pads of the bear's paws...

But of course there weren't enough to go all the way around the quilt top. I was also concerned about sufficient contrast between the block and the background. So the paws and the flimsy were put away again.

I needed some fairly mindless work to keep me distracted from headaches earlier this week. I decided to just make more Bear Paw units out of the overall print I'd used for the claws in the fussy cut blocks. I also used a quieter background for the new paws. At the end of day one I finally had enough to go all the way around the flimsy. The next day I arranged the paws down the sides of the quilt, using more of that black Moda marble as sashing. Things were looking better by this time.

Yesterday I created the top and bottom borders out of the remaining bear's paws. That's when I also decided to frame the whole thing with a narrow border of the print I'd used between the stars and the paws at the top and bottom. There was just enough of that old print to do the job. 😀


I was really worried about this project at various points during construction. Now I'm very happy with the way it turned out. It's officially a twin size top, so larger than I've been accustomed to making of late. I haven't yet chosen a backing fabric for it. I suspect this will be custom quilted rather than the usual meander or overall quilting my quilts generally get. James will have a chance to flex his creative quilting muscles for a change!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Two (Hopefully Sweet) Treats

I resolved the issue of borders/no borders on my Broken Dishes Disappearing 9 Patch by putting narrow borders down the sides and slightly wider borders on the top and bottom of the quilt.

That  gave me a bit more length without adding much width. I'll use the same black border print for the binding. 

This quilt should finish around 63" x 78." Kate has said it puts her in mind of cellophane wrapped hard candies strewn across a tabletop. I hope the quilting I have in mind will emphasize that effect. But instead of hard candy I'm thinking I'll call this Scattered Taffy. A couple of family members have a particular fondness for taffy. 😉

Meanwhile, I have yet another Disappearing 9 Patch quilt that I don't think I've shared with you. It's the same setting I used for the Halloween print version but darker alternate patches in the original 9 patch blocks for this one changes the whole look.

This one features food and food-related prints. There are various fruits and vegetables and Peeps and Christmas candy and ice cream and a couple of kitchen appliances. I used pairs (or sometimes four) of each focal fabric so it can be used as an I Spy quilt. I had foster kids in mind when I was making it.

I thought it was especially fun to use the mice-among-the-cheese print next to wedges of cheese!

It will finish around 60" x 73." I had to go out and  purchase fabric to bind it, in spite of all the prints and colors in my stash. Most often there just wasn't enough to go all the way around. I decided to use a red to frame the quilt and blend with the backing

Of course I couldn't get out of the shop without picking up a couple of other prints...

Most of these are just fat quarters. At least a couple of them will end up in Turkey Track blocks eventually. I don't have quite enough of those yet for a complete quilt. I have a feeling I'll be getting back to them soon!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

SAL in April - Sketchbook Reveal

What with one thing and another I haven't done much needlework since the last Stitch Along check in. I may have put a few stitches in one of the pillowcases I'm embroidering. But the big news is that my sketchbook for The Sketchbook Project is finally complete, assembled, and ready to return to the Brooklyn Art Library. 😊 Let me give you the tour...

Front Cover

First page

This is the middle of the booklet.
You can see where I hand stitched the pages to the cover.

The final page. The quote may not be exact; I didn't take the time to look it up.

Inside back cover
Most of the returning sketchbooks will have a vertical orientation. Obviously mine doesn't, but I had to succumb on the inside back cover. I don't feel that my photographs give an accurate representation of the colors in the backgrounds or the cotton embroidery flosses I used but this will have to do.

For my next SAL project I think I'm going to dedicate my efforts to the embroidered block of the month that Joy is sharing. I whipped up the first block shortly after receiving the pattern. I was anxious to start on the second block but then life got in the way, as it has a way of doing. Now I'm suddenly two months behind! Time to get back on that particular horse. 😉 In the meantime, you can see and enjoy a wide range of needlework being done by the other members of this Stitch Along group. We check in every three weeks so our next "meeting" will be on 6 May.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Scrap Happy in April

I'm posting this a little early as Scrap Happy Day and our next Stitch Along check-in fall on the same day this month (the 15th). It remains to be seen what I'll have to show for the SAL. I've come down with a little spring cold and that has slowed my progress somewhat. We were hoping it was just allergies the husband and son were suffering from. Turns out it was something contagious. Fortunately it hasn't been as bad as some other colds I've had in the past (she says while knocking on the wooden bookshelf nearby 😉). 

Faithful followers will know that I routinely work with scraps. The project I designated for Scrap Happy Day last month was another Disappearing 9 Patch, this time featuring scrappy Broken Dishes blocks in place of the 5" focal patches I've used in other versions of this design. (One of which I don't think you've seen yet!) I'd decided on a layout for the blocks but hadn't determined specific placements. I got the blocks out again a few days ago and started playing with them on the design wall. 

When I had an arrangement I was happy with I sewed the blocks into rows. That was as far as I could go that day. The next morning I noticed a pair of very similar blocks too close together for my peace of mind. Rather than trying to move one or the other of the blocks I tried moving whole rows. That worked for the most part. In the end I did have to disassemble half a row, move the blocks around within it, and then put it back together. But the end result was worth it.

I could have fussed with it longer (like, forever) to try for better color and value distribution across the quilt top but after a while you just have to say "Enough!" I also made the sashing to go across the top and down the left side to complete the sashing and cornerstone pattern. Now the question is whether or not to add a border. This measures about 61" x 74" at the moment. I could live with that size, it just looks unfinished to me. I don't know whether binding alone will do the trick. The thing is, I found this absolutely delightful Halloween print that I thought would be fun to use in this quilt somehow:

Turns out the print scale is a bit too large to show effectively in a border in my opinion. I don't want a ginormous quilt just to accommodate this print. I originally bought only a yard when I saw it in a local store. I went back to get what was left on the bolt a few days later, wanting to have as much of it as possible to expand my options. Now that I have the body of the top compete and have measured the gremlins I think it's going to have to become the quilt back. So what, if anything, do I do to the front? 

Scrap Happy Day is the creation of Kate at Tall Tales From Chiconia and Gun in Sweden. You might pop over to see what they come up with for either Scrap Happy Day or the Stitch Along as they are both involved in both efforts. 😊

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Retail Therapy

I felt better yesterday than I have since I took that fall (two weeks ago now?). So naturally I used my better health to expose myself to fresh toxins. 😉 I find it hard to get creating again after a full stop like the one caused by my accident. I thought some retail therapy might help.

One of our local quilt shops is having a liquidation sale. 😢 My understanding is that they hope to reopen in a new location later this year. I don't get to shop there often but I don't want to see them shut down entirely. Every shop has it's own personality and therefore a slightly different selection of prints from others in the area. But it wasn't fabric that went into my basket first.

I thought this set of stencils might give my embroidery practice a boost. I also bought a chalk pencil and just the one skein of size 5 perle cotton. Couldn't resist that color!

I didn't have any specific project in mind when I went into the store so I ended up just buying yardage that appealed to me. The first bolts came from their Halloween shelf.

There's two yards of the orange batik (which did not come from the Halloween shelf) and a yard each of the spider web print and the orange below it. The two greens and the blue are half-yard cuts and  the rooster print is only a fat quarter. It will be interesting to see where these end up. At the moment I don't have a clue. However, the stencils had the desired effect.

This is what page two of my Year in Stitches sampler looked like before I injured myself:

Now it looks like this:

Remember, this is just a place to practice and play. I marked a few lines with the stencils, like for the snail shell and the twig below.

The hearts coming down the right side are pretty much freehand, each one created with a pair of offset fly stitches.

The first hearts I made (in red, at the top) were backstitched. I used Nancy's hand dyed floss exclusively on this sampler.

This sampler page might be done now. I think I can probably live with the negative spaces that remain. Which brings up the question of how to approach the next page in this year-long effort. I don't think I want to do another grid like I did for the first page. At least, not one that tight (2" square). I think I'd be more comfortable with some kind of structure over a completely blank canvas though. Watch this space!

Monday, April 2, 2018

In A Vase on Monday and Blocks for Friends

You know how one blog often leads to another? I recently came across Rambling in the Garden via one of the other blogs I enjoy (I don't remember who now). She hosts a meme in which folks can showcase the beauties they've picked from their gardens: In A Vase on Monday. I'm adapting this to my own circumstances. I like to keep a vase of cut flowers in my studio but can't get out consistently to grow very many of my own. In fact, I need to get out and clean up my little flower bed but the air hasn't been safe enough yet. Seems someone nearby is always either burning something or doing their laundry with products that are toxic to my system. So the last time I went for groceries at our local co-op I brought home a handful of tulips to celebrate spring.

I've put them in a hand-built cobalt blue ceramic pitcher. This arrangement is tall and slender enough not to take up too much space on my cutting table.

We exchange friendship blocks in my local quilt guild. The friendship block requests had piled up a bit while I worked on other projects and then had to take time to recover from that fall I had. On Good Friday I was finally feeling well enough to do some sewing. I managed to get all caught up on the friendship blocks!

As you can see, they vary widely in style.

I started with the house block. The recipient/requester will be adding a piece to the bottom right corner so her houses will be perched on a hill. I have to say, I'm tempted to embroider shutters on either side the window. But then I'll probably want to add other embellishments too. We shall see. That one was fun to design. The patriotic star came right out of my Parts Dept. so all I needed to do was add the outer border to complete that request. Easy peasy! Things got fiddly after that. The batik block is dramatic when complete but every piece is a different size. We won't even talk about the strawberry except to say it's based on a 1.5" grid. I'm just glad it's done and turned out so well. Now it's my turn. April is the month I get to present a friendship block request. I've had a couple of ideas but haven't yet settled on what I'll ask for. I might just go for 5" squares of novelty prints for another Disappearing 9 Patch quilt that could then be donated for a child in foster care. 😊