Thursday, August 15, 2019

Scrap Happy in August

Scrap Happy Day is hosted each month by Kate and Gun, half way across the world from each other. It's open to anyone using their scrap materials, whatever they may be. Mine tend to be fabric scraps from the quilts I make. This time of year, however, it's hard for me to do any patchwork. If I have the windows open to cool the house toxic fumes or particulates drift in and make it hard for me to function. When we close the windows and run our small air conditioning unit the studio doesn't get cool enough to have the iron on for pressing seams. Not comfortably anyway. So I've been doing more needlework of late. They've been primarily new-to-me canvases and linens but not always brand new. On one canvas, which I won't show in full because it will be a gift later this year, I've been able to use some cotton floss leftover from the needlepoint kits I was doing last year.

All the white is scrap floss. The green is what's left of a skein that's been in my stash for decades so it could be counted as well. πŸ˜‰

The pile of scrap patches for 6" Ship blocks had grown considerably before my piecing endeavors were put on hold. I cut backgrounds for them and have managed to get this fleet assembled early in the mornings.

The postage stamp star was partially constructed back when I was still working on the plaid Wrench quilt. Got that finished up too. 😁

Scrap Happy Day is the 15th of each month. To see what others have done with their scrap materials click on the links below.

KateGun, TittiHelΓ©neEva, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawn, Gwen, Connie, Bekki, Pauline and Sue L.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Stitching Along in August

It's time for our tri-weekly stitch along check-in. In this group we work on our own projects rather than everyone doing the same piece. Last time I showed you the stamped pillowcase I'd begun to embroider. Unfortunately, I'd stitched the back of the pillowcase to the front in the first sitting.

Since then I've removed those stitches and done quite a bit of additional work.

All the stems and leaves have been stitched in back stitch. The flowers have a combination of lazy daisy petals and chain stitched petals with some accent straight stitches. 

Those leaves and stems have been stitched since this photo was taken, I promise you!
I haven't quite decided what I'm going to do in the centers of those big blossoms. I have a color picked out for the little flowers but haven't stitched any of them yet either. 

The other bit of embroidery I've done lately is to finish up the gingerbread house from Joy McDonald's series.

I did rather a lot of improvising with this one. You can see what the original design looks like here.  Most of my changes were to the upper half of the house: the chimney, the two windows, and the floral vine. 

There's only one more house in Joy's gingerbread house quilt project. Since I won't be making that particular quilt I'm thinking I may not do a third house - as much fun as it is to dress them up. 😊 Instead I may combine the two I've made with the Fruits of the Spirit panels from her that I stitched last year. We shall see. 

There's also been rather a lot of needlepoint going on lately here in The Magpie's Nest. I believe I will save that for the Bee, Myself and I post at the end of the month. Our next SAL post will be the first of September... So maybe I'll combine the two posts into one. You'll just have to wait and see. 😁

The others participating in this Stitch Along are all over the globe and will be posting according to their local time zone. You can see what they've got going by clicking on their links below.

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Constanze, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, 
Cindy, Helen, LindaHeidi, Jackie, Sunny, Hayley, Megan, Deborah, 
Clare, Mary Margaret, Renee, Jenny,Carmela, Jocelyn, Sharon

Monday, August 5, 2019


And the livin' ain't easy, at least not around here. I open the windows overnight or when I get up in the mornings to bring in as much cool air as possible. Unfortunately, that also brings in toxins I don't always detect until it's too late. So I've been living with the consequences: headaches, irritability, and lethargy. We have a portable air conditioning unit but it doesn't reach to my studio space effectively. I have to say that it does a nice job of cleaning the air of pollutants though. I just don't like running it. It's noisy for one thing. And natural air conditioning is cheaper. Still, I'm lucky to have it.

My two quilts have come back from the quilt show and been turned in to the county fair. No ribbons from the quilt show, and I don't expect any from the fair. I'm very pleased with them though, and wanted to give them as much exposure as possible. πŸ˜‰

I've been doing a lot of needlework this past week. Most of it would qualify for the next SAL or a Bee, Myself and I post so I'm reluctant to share it with you until then. Once this spate of embroidery passes I may not do any more for quite some time!

You might remember I was waiting for a frame on which to mount my sugar skull cat canvas.

Since it arrived I've done quite a bit of work on her:

It's just the mindless sort of stitching I need at times like this. Of course I'll be using Victorian Motto Sampler Shoppe flosses, aside from the DMC black. I've only chosen the orange for the cat's head so far. One thing at a time. 😊

I know quilters and stitchers alike enjoy audiobooks while they work. I prefer to have my little television set to the classic movie channel, TCM. I can generally follow the story without getting so involved that I stop stitching - which would likely happen with an audiobook. I think I've mentioned that I recently discovered a couple of podcasts I also enjoy, Fiber Talk and Stitchery Stories. Stitchery Stories is out of England and recently celebrated her 2nd anniversary. Fiber Talk has provided listeners with the perfect excuse for the purchases they end up making as a result of their podcasts: #fibertalkmademedoit. If I were on Instagram I would totally be using that hashtag!

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Bee, Myself & I in July

Bee, Myself & I is intended for projects we do for our own pleasure, not for a gift or to a deadline. Mine have taken the form of needlework of one sort or another and have been kind of sporadic of late. With the completion of the plaid Wrenches quilt top (see previous post) I seem to be in the mood for hand work again. Not a lot has been accomplished on either of my needlepoint canvases however. I only removed a short stack of the background on the horses canvas. Not enough to bother taking a picture for you. I've only put in a few stitches in the Pumpkin Head canvas too, just enough to fill in the rest of the background around the bats on Jack's hat.

That leaves the white spots at the tip of the hat and most of Jack's head. It will be tedious to fill in those spots on the tip as I'll want to run my needle under the black stitches between the dots on the backside. I was having difficulty seeing the color changes on Jacks' face so I gave that up for the time being. The edges of his hat will pose a challenge too. I'll want it to be as symmetrical as possible, which may involve putting in some single stitches of color once I get the background established. So instead of plowing ahead with this canvas when the time was right I chose to begin yet another canvas. πŸ˜‰

Not that I could get very far. I mounted Jack on the only frame I had available. Because it's another small image I originally thought I would just stitch this next canvas in hand. After having put in the first stitches I decided to get another set of bars, currently on order.

I haven't pulled all the colors for this one yet either. It was easy to begin with the black spider web design on this sugar skull cat.

Now I'm anxious for the bars to arrive so I can do more of the black stitches! I doubt I will be following the color placements exactly. I'm not a fan of metallic threads for one thing. I don't even like metallic highlights on my quilting cottons. Just a personal peculiarity. I'll be stitching this, like Jack and the horses, with cotton floss. They are all 18 count canvases.

I'm in good shape for our next Stitch Along check-in too. I fully expect to have that pillowcase I stitched shut finished by then. 😊

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Plaid Wrenches

Not to be confused with wenches wearing plaid.

All other projects fell by the wayside this week as I felt compelled to work on the plaid wrench block quilt top. In my last post I teased you with a shot of part of one of the scrappy alternate columns. (I knew I couldn't do a completely controlled, organized quilt!) Here's the whole layout:

This one is going to be an official twin size quilt though. It should finish at about 63" x 87." Here's a shot from the side so you can see what's hidden by my cutting table.

That's the best I can do in these tight quarters.

I didn't entirely use up my brown plaids but I also didn't have enough left of anything appropriate for the whole cloth border I wanted to put on. That's where friends with stashes come in handy. 😊My friend C~ has more brown in her stash than I and was able to provide yardage sufficient for not only the 2.5" (finished) border all the way around but also enough to make the binding that will eventually complete this quilt.

It's a nice dark chocolate brown. In this case I'm happy the binding will disappear visually.

I don't have a back for this yet, nor batting, so it may be a while before I can show it as a finished product. Still, it's pretty handsome, isn't it? 😁Just what I had in mind for a young man on the threshold of his adult life.

There are still some plaids to return to my inventory but I feel I've made a respectable dent at least. Now I can turn my attention back to the more colorful baby/toddler quilt I also have in the works. And maybe get some stitching done for the upcoming Bee, Myself and I post!

Sunday, July 21, 2019

(Reverse) Stitching Along in July

I have been embroiled in making checkerboard sections for the alternate columns of my current quilt project, the plaid Wrench blocks.

Which meant I hadn't done any embroidery since our last SAL check-in. I couldn't generate any enthusiasm for either of the two projects I have on the go either. With the clock ticking away I decided to pull out an orphan pillowcase stamped for embroidery that I'd purchased earlier this year.

I have some new floss colors from Victorian Motto Sampler Shoppe too. There's nothing like a new project to get the juices flowing again. 😁

Those are actually two different shades of green in spite of how it may appear.

Unfortunately, every stitch I put in went through both layers of the pillowcase, front and back. {sigh}

So I've taken those stitches out and called it quits for the time being. Some things are just not meant to be. 😐

We each work on our own projects in this SAL, and share our progress - or lack thereof - every three weeks. The knowledge of upcoming check-in days is a great way to keep on top of projects you want to complete. Maybe I'll have something more to show on 11 August. Let's hope so! If you'd like to participate just leave a comment on Avis' blog. There's a variety of needlework techniques in play so you're bound to find something interesting on the tour.

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Constanze, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, 
Cindy, Helen, Linda,Heidi, Jackie, Sunny, Hayley, Megan, Deborah, 
Clare, Mary Margaret, Renee, Jenny,Carmela, Jocelyn, Sharon

Monday, July 15, 2019

Scrap Happy in July

Scrap Happy Day is hosted by Kate and Gun on the 15th of each month. Gun's in Sweden, Kate's in Australia, and the rest of us are somewhere inbetween. πŸ˜‰This began as a way to show how we've used our quilt making scraps but has expanded to include other makers and other materials. There's a whole world of possibilities out there!

I thought I'd only have a few blocks to share this time around. These will be added to my Parts Department to be incorporated into one or more quilts in the future.

I assemble these blocks between sewing the seams of other projects. It's an ongoing leader/ender project.

We've had some pretty poor air quality lately. When it's hard to think due to toxic exposures sometimes I will put together a postage stamp block or two using the 1.5" squares I've cut from scraps. In addition to the stars above I have another baker's dozen postage stamp units waiting to be turned into stars (or something else I suppose, but most likely stars). They will also go into the Parts Dept. for future use.

Then it dawned on me that one of the quilts I'm working on at the moment is technically a scrap project. These 10" Wrench blocks were made from larger pieces of yardage I've had forever (although the background fabric is new yardage).

The quilt plan I've devised calls for sashing these into columns of seven blocks each. There will be four of those columns. They will be separated by three columns of six inch blocks and the whole thing will eventually be surrounded by a whole-cloth border. That may have to be purchased, we'll see. In the meantime, of the options I considered for those alternate columns I finally decided to use up more of the plaids from the Wrench blocks by cutting them up into 2.5" squares for checkerboard columns.

I don't know why this picture turned out so dark! 
I've thrown in some brown squares I found in my scrap boxes. I've also made a few of the Shoo-fly blocks I typically make from scraps. 😊

I know I've used up at least two plaids with this project, maybe more. I'm doing much better than I thought!

Here's the link list for others who may have done wonderful things with their scrap materials: 😊
 Kate  Gun, TittiHelΓ©neEva, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, JanKaren,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean, Johanna,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawn, Gwen, Connie, Bekki, Pauline and Sue L.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Happy Houses

My local quilt guild has a monthly block lottery in which I usually participate. Last month the call was for any size house block, any style or technique, but the house needed to be lime green and the sky black on white or white on black. I love the combination of lime green and black and white. I also love house blocks. I made three. 😁

One of the things I enjoy most is putting images in the doors and windows.

And of course I wouldn't resist adding a touch of Halloween. πŸ˜‰

There weren't a lot of other blocks turned in this time but I won the lot!

There are a couple of truly improv houses, which I love. And check out the duplex!

Someone else was thinking along the same lines I do:

Apparently some of her spools of thread got away from her!

These will be a fun start to a new quilt for a child in foster care or a hospital setting. πŸ’•

Meanwhile, I've entered two quilts in another guild's annual show and will probably put them both in the county fair a few weeks from now. I've officially declared this one a wall hanging. (I thought for a long time it would be a child's quilt.) Six of my F2F3 blocks helped to carry out the theme. It was a fun quilt to build.

Let Your Dreams Set Sail
After being on exhibit it will be donated to Hospice of the Northwest for their annual fundraising auction. Sine we live relatively near the coast I'm hoping some of the folks who live in the expensive houses oceanside will bid on this to have in their home.

This one is going to one of my granddaughters for her September birthday.

August Nights
I'd really like to get a more official portrait of the finished product before then.

Scrap Happy Day is coming up on the 15th. I may not have a lot to share but there will be a few scrappy blocks at the very least. 😊See you then!

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Celebrating My Freedom to Pursue Happiness

I don't have any pictures of patriotic quilts to share on this Independence Day. I've probably got some somewhere but I'm too lazy to dig for them. For that matter, we don't do a lot of decorating for holidays other than Halloween/Day of the Dead, primarily because we just leave most of those up year round. We decorate around them at Christmas. πŸ˜‰

However, I cherish the freedoms and prosperity we can enjoy in this country.

Today I'm celebrating the freedom I've had lately to assemble lots of blocks. (That would be freedom from toxins and hormonal fluctuations.) I've made a second batch of the plaid ten inch Wrench blocks for an eventual twin size quilt.

This could well be one of the most controlled quilts I've ever made. By that I mean I'm using the same prints over and over rather than a broad mix of prints and colors. Each plaid will be used at least four times. There will be a slight variation in the background prints but only because I didn't have enough of the one I began with. I was able to find another print from the same manufacturer, same line though, so the differences won't be noticeable from a distance. They should add some visual interest for the recipient at least.

I've been able to intersperse these muted colors with the bright stars of the baby quilt I'm also building.

I'm going to have to introduce another background print in this quilt too. I'd rather keep it consistent but haven't been able to find more of that specific white with black print. It will be a fun challenge to figure out how to make another background print fit in. 😊

Sunday, June 30, 2019

SAL and Bee, Myself and I

We have two Stitch Along days this month and this second one lands at the same time I'd be reporting on my Bee, Myself and I projects. So you get a two-fer in this blog post! 

I finally started the second gingerbread house in the series by Joy McDonald. There's a good bit more to do on it though.

When I traced it off I only traced the major lines, not all the details. I wanted to leave room for spontaneous embellishment. And now all of a sudden - or so it seems to me! - the third house has been released. At least I'll have it to hand when I'm finally ready for it. 😊

That's my official SAL project. Each participant is working on her own project so there's quite the variety among the stitchers. To see what everyone else is working on and the progress they've made you can click on their names below. If you'd like the accountability of checking in every three weeks you can leave a comment on Avis' blog.

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Constanze, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Helen, LindaHeidi, Jackie, Sunny, Hayley, Megan, Deborah, Clare, Mary Margaret, Renee, Jenny,Carmela, Jocelyn, Sharon

Meanwhile, for my Bee, Myself & I project, also known as selfish sewing, I'm putting stitches in one needlepoint canvas and taking them out of another. This Jack in a Party Hat is a small hand painted canvas so I'm trying not to work it up too quickly.

It may be hard for you to tell what's been stitched and what hasn't. The hat is nearly complete, the eyes and mouth are done, so about all that's left is Jack's head. And whatever I decide to do for the background. 

There's not much left to remove from the background of the horses canvas.

There may be more needlework done over the next couple of months as the temperatures are heating up around here. Hand work doesn't require the use of an iron. πŸ˜‰

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Starry Saturday

It's taking me longer than I anticipated to get back into the patchwork I'd been doing when I hurt my shoulder. No sooner was my shoulder beginning to feel nearly normal again when I hurt another body part. πŸ˜–Can you believe it?! I have no one to blame but myself. Or maybe the weeds I was trying to pull from the flower bed. 

I'd deadheaded the flowers and pulled down the bindweed climbing up the hedge along the back property line. That went so well I decided to see what I could do with the weeds that had taken hold under and around the flowers. The ground was hard and dry even though we'd had some rain (cleaning the air and making it possible for me to even be outside to begin with). If I'd been smart (ha) I'd have gone in for my trowel. Instead I tried to pull a broadleaf weed from the ground by twisting it's leaves together and exerting all my weight against it. Everything was fine, progressing slowly, until suddenly all the leaves broke free of the rootball. I went sailing across the yard to land on my backside in a move straight out of a cartoon. In the air I was trying to figure out how to break my fall to avoid breaking any bones. I managed to miss my tailbone at least. And nothing is broken, thank goodness. My back sure hurts though. Has been all week. So once again productivity has been limited. {sigh}

Before my trip through the air I managed to get some flying geese made for my Remixed Geese quilt.

Since then I've started making 10" Wrench blocks to eventually be a quilt for a young man aging out of the foster care system. 

And today I resurrected a project I'd barely begun before I hurt my shoulder. These stars will become a quilt for a new baby in the family. 

Of course it will not be ready when he makes his grand entrance. They're giving me an opportunity to use up some whimsical prints I've had for too long though.

I've also got sleeves to put on two quilts for an upcoming show locally. Not looking forward to that process as it will involve standing longer than my back will be happy about. Fortunately the turn-in date is still a couple of weeks away so maybe I can let my back heal more before I tackle that job. Right now I'm concentrating on not staying in one position too long. Piecing these blocks is good for that! 

I want to apologize to my faithful readers who visit my blog and leave supportive comments. I've been out of commission too often lately to respond or even visit your blogs. Hopefully the day is not too far off when I'll be able to make up for lost time. πŸ’œ

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Scrap Happy in June

It's that time again when Kate and Gun invite us to share something (or things) that we've made from scrap materials, whatever our medium may be. I'm always using my fabric scraps to create quilt blocks of one sort or another. I try to keep a short stack of patches ready to sew together between the seams of whatever major project I may be working on. As my shoulder began to feel better I worked out of the basket of 2" wide scrap strips I keep handy. I make 12" (finished) Lego blocks by piecing the short strips together end to end and then assembling those rows into blocks.

There's another partial block in the works too. These accumulate in my Parts Dept. until I have enough to build a quilt.

I've also been keeping 1.5" scrap strips and sewing them together into 6" (finished) blocks I call my Sticks blocks.

The Shoofly blocks have been my go-to piecing between seams for a long time. I was able to put together a few Ships recently too.

One of these days I'll actually do something with my Ships and Shooflies! Heaven knows there are enough of them here in The Magpie's Nest. The shoulder continues to improve so maybe there will be one or more new quilts created soon. 😊In the meantime, for lots of scrappy inspiration you can visit these blogs. Even if they don't have a scrappy project to share there will be something of interest for you to see.

KateGun, TittiHelΓ©neEvaNanette, Lynn, Lynda,