Monday, April 25, 2016

Calling all cats!

Friday when I was in Spooner having lunch with my good friend, Diane, we had to stop at Thimbles quilt shop across the street. Diane makes quilts also, as well as doing many other interesting things.  This shop has a great selection of wools for penny rugs and so forth, gorgeous heavyweight flannels,  and a huge selection of animal prints--cats and dogs mostly but Diane found a very cute fabric printed with orange tadpoles!  Never saw that anywhere else!  

They also carry a sizeable assortment of embroidery patterns and Cosmo floss and what came home with me that day was this pattern from Bird Brain Designs.  Sorry that it's so hard to see what's inside but even when I enlarged the pic, it still was illegible.  There are 2 patterns in there and I'm going to do the one on the right. It says, "In a Purrfect World. . .  Every Home Would Have a Cat And Every Cat Would Have a Home."  

I immediately thought of my daughter who's a cat lover and decided to make this little quilt for her. It's embroidered in redwork and I thought I'd make it into a little wall hanging, framed with a couple of pieced borders, for her to hang in her cubicle at work.  So, my "job" for yesterday was to trace out the pattern and get everything ready to take with me on my trip to Maine where I'll work on this in the evenings.  

Not only is Tessa (and her daughter Lily) a cat lover, she also works for a company that makes lab supplies and software programs for veterinary clinics. They're all about promoting adoption of shelter animals, not just cats, but that's Tessa's animal of choice.  I think she'll like this piece.

Somewhere I'd read about putting the fabric with the traced design over a piece of batting and embroidering through both layers.  I decided to try this technique this time to see how it works. I'm hoping that there will be a quilted look to the embroidered part and that I won't have to go in there with the machine and quilt it up,  just some machine quilting on the borders.  Can anyone tell me of  any experience they've had embroidering through batting?  I'd love to hear how that went before I commit myself to this.

One reason I only did this little project yesterday is that youngest daughter Jo came home to celebrate her father's birthday and we had a very nice birthday dinner together. Jo and I made a little trip to the local food Coop so she could pick up some things she likes and I brought home 3 little gluten free "Espresso and Mint" brownies. Don doesn't like to eat sweets so he'd asked to not have cake but I couldn't resist the brownies. Neither did he and we all three agreed they were oh, so yummy!  Afterward, I found this recipe that sounds good and that I'll be trying after I get home from Maine.

Gluten-free Mint Layered Brownies. Copycat recipe for brownies I fell in love with at a now-closed bakery. Delicious!

Don't they look just wonderful!  

Yes, I'm going out to Maine for a week with Tessa and Lily.  Tessa is having a "gastric sleeve" surgery and I'm going to be there to take care of Lily as well as helping Tessa out while she's off work for a few days.  Looking forward to seeing my "girls" again after how many months away.  Those of you who've read my posts over the years, know that Lily practically lived with Don and I for a long time while Tessa was finishing school and finding a job that worked for her. So to be so far away from her has been a huge adjustment for us.  I have such conflicted feelings--I'm so happy that Lily and Tessa are happy in Maine and that Lily has made friends and that Tessa's job continues to go well, and at the same time, I really wish they were back here, living in the same town, so Lily could come over after school and they could drop in on the weekends to spend time with us. But mostly, I'm happy they're doing well where they are.  At any rate, I'm really looking forward to boarding that plane Wednesday morning and being there for the afternoon!  

Before then, however, I have a number of things that have to be done today and tomorrow, like going to the cheese store and stocking up on cheeses to bring to Maine with me. They absolutely love WI cheese! And I have to get some potting soil to transplant my starter plants which are getting too big for the peat pots they started in.  So, it's off to get these things done!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Another table runner finished!

 Here's the finished red-white-blue table runner that I pieced at retreat 2 weeks ago and quilted up here at home this past week.  Stitched on the binding this morning and it's ready to go into the Jolly Ruby shop and hopefully to someone's home for the summer.

I did some more fanciful free motion quilting in the colored sections of the blocks and a "headband" free motion filler in the white sections. The center of the "oh" blocks is a floral motif.

This is the back--a red-white-beige piece of fabric that I found in my stash.  I think it looks pretty good.

Again, I ask you readers, please give me your opinion:  Should the leftover fabrics go into a set of placemats or another similar table runner?  Which would you prefer on your Fourth of July table? For some reason, I'm unable to make a decision and I need your help.  Thanks so much.  

Friday, April 22, 2016

I've become a Farmer's Wife

No, I haven't obtained a new farming husband, but yesterday, I tackled "The Farmer's Wife."  Last fall, the guild offered The Farmer's Wife (FW) as a quilt along, and I liked the little blocks so much that I decided to get the book and try my hand at it.

In my head, I was thinking, "I can skip the paper piecing and make these blocks by cutting and sewing them as I always do. Just a matter of measuring accurately, and maybe even using the templates."

As you may or may not know, paper piecing is my absolute least favorite quilting technique.  I've tried it a number of times with less than even good results. I'd vowed to never, Never, NEVER do paper piecing again.

Ha!  What a joke!  A week ago I sat down to make up one of the blocks and I soon realized that the patterns hadn't printed out at 100% and so weren't the right size.  Oh dear!  The only option I had--since I'm a dunce with the computer and likely couldn't figure out how to get the patterns to print at 100%--was to go with the paper piecing. (Insert growling, gnashing of teeth, and tearing out of hair here.)

Yesterday afternoon I had uninterrupted time which I spent working on FW blocks.  At the end of 5 1/2 hours, I had to go get dinner on the table and had to leave my project.  What did I accomplish in all that time?  Here they are! Strings and all!

Indeed, I'd finished 4 of the blocks--with 95 more to go!  Yikes! Keep in mind these are 6 1/2" unfinished blocks.  So, little tiny pieces!  And these 4 are some of the simpler ones that I chose to begin with.  

I've accumulated so much Civil War repro fabric and have so little 30's repro fabric that I decided to use up some of the Civil War stuff.  I like the way they look, and even though it took quite a bit of time to accomplish this, I enjoyed working on them and will make more. Maybe not all 99 of them, but some at least.

Today, I'm on the road to see a couple of friends and to visit a couple of my favorite quilt shops. I need to take a break from paper piecing!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Jolly ruby projects

Yes, I'm back into working on the quilts I took with me to the Spring retreat. And I'm recovered completely from that wonderful weekend.  I've run into a couple of other retreaters who have volunteered the same thing--they had to take a few days to recover from all the laughter and friendship that we experienced at retreat.

So what have I been doing this week?  On Sunday, I met daughter Jo at a coffee shop in nearby Stillwater, MN, one of the most charming little cites ever!  I had to give her the brown and cream wedding quilt that I'd made for her to give to her friends.  She'd seen pictures of the quilt and liked them so I knew she'd be pleased when she actually held it in her hands.  However,  She pointed out that the fishing lure fabric didn't really fit in with the quilt.  Awww!  I thought that was a comic touch. I don't have any pics of that fabric, but, oh well, the quilt is finished and it is what it is.  No matter the fabrics used, it'll still bring a lifetime of snuggling to the newly wed couple.

I also did some work on the watermelon table runner--and finished it!  It's for sale at Jolly Ruby and you can take a look for yourself if you like.   Here are the top 4 panels,

The pieced backing with more slices of watermelon,

and these cute little ants as sashing between the blocks. 

I've also been working on a Red-White-Blue table runner that will also go into Jolly Ruby.  

I found this bit of patriotic fabric that's the perfect size for the backing, and there's enough for backing on the second one I'll be making as well. I have lots of red, white, and blue fabrics left so I'll be using them up but I'm not sure if I should make another, similar table runner or use the fabrics in placemats.  

My goal for today, since it's a cool and rainy day, is to finish this quilt and get it posted in the Jolly Ruby store.

What else have I been doing?  Well, about half of the windows in the house have been cleaned, so that's a big accomplishment.  No, I'm not going to leave the rest dirty, I just haven't done them yet. I've been thoroughly cleaning the house, room by room, and can only do 3 or 4 windows at a time.  So I'm making progress but have a bit of a ways to go yet.  It'll get done, not to worry. (as if you would worry about someone else's dirty house!  Ha ha!)

I also have been writing on the computer,  notes from last night's Quilt Tour planning meeting.  As you may or may not recall, the local domestic abuse program here in Menomonie has once again, asked the local quilting groups to participate in the Quilt Tour scheduled for November.  It's like a garden tour where you go from one garden to another, but in the quilt tour, you go from one church to another--4 sites in all--to view the various quilt shows.  It's a fund raiser and has been very successful in the previous 2 shows and we hope to make it even more successful this year.  I've been charged with obtaining a keynote speaker to kick off the tour. So far, I'm not having any luck, but it's still early days.  We did have a discussion about whether or not to have a wine tasting at one of the sites. The local winery is donating a basket of wines for the raffle and asked about having a booth.  We decided not to do that, but I tell you what, a glass of wine would be very welcome at the end of the day!  

In the 2 previous quilt tours, I've been in charge of my guild's show but this time, I thought I'd turn it over to someone else.  This year, I'm working with another guild member, Jo, in organizing and running a shop of things the members have made over this year.  Zipper bags, quilted potholders, table runners, pin cushions, etc. Small things that don't cost a lot and don't take a lot to make up.  I'm making a dozen or so outfits for 18" dolls like American Girl, and am having so much fun doing that. 

The other thing that has kept me at the computer this morning is researching and writing an article for the guild newsletter. I write one each month on something to do with quilting, usually historical. This month it was Amish quilts and how they have developed over the years.   

I think I'm finished with my computer chores and can get on with finishing the red-white-blue.  If you want to leave a comment as to what you think I should do with the leftover fabric--runner or placemats--I'd like to hear from you.  

Monday, April 11, 2016

Spring retreat

I've been on retreat for the past 3 days, and now I need to spend today trying to recover!  Three days of great fun with an amazing group of women, fantastic quilting, and oh so delicious food!  This was the second spring retreat the guild has sponsored but my first one, (last year I was laid up with knee replacement surgery,)

We stayed at Nawbury Lodge in Northwestern Wisconsin and what a fine retreat facility it is!  They can accommodate up to 16  guests, I think.  All these photos are from their website.

Lots of sewing space, (Despite the sign, it's BYO cocktails),

roomy and comfortable beds,

enough bathrooms for all 13 of us,

and a fully equipped kitchen so we could prepare our meals.

There are also two lounge areas where you can sit and hand stitch along with a movie if you want to, as well as an outside patio in the back, overlooking the surrounding wooded area.  Would be just beautiful in the summer, I'm sure.

We decided that we only needed to have brunch and dinner (along with a bounty of snacks, of course!) and we were each assigned to one meal team.  I was in charge of preparing lasagne for Friday's dinner which I'd done at home on Thursday.  It was well received.  :p)  The rest of the meals were equally as good and now I'm in charge of collecting all the recipes and emailing them to everyone.  Maybe I'll get that done by the end of the day.

I worked on finishing the top for the "Roll Roll Cotton Boll" that I'd begun at a Bonnie Hunter workshop in Gulf Shores, AL in February.  Below is the block that I'd made and by the time I'd come home from AL, I had made up the 12 blocks I needed for the quilt, but not the string pieced alternate blocks.

 That I did at the retreat and then put all the blocks together on point.

This will be a twin sized quilt when it's finished and will be donated to the guild annual charity project which is for children in the county foster care system.  Now I have to decide if I want to make the pieced border that Bonnie did on her quilt, and yes, I have enough leftover fabrics to do that, or do I just want to slap on a plain border and call it good.  The quilter part of me want to use up the leftovers and make the pieced border but the part of me that wants this one done and on it's way says, plain border.   I'll decide in a day or two what to do.

I also worked on the backing for this watermelon table runner which has been hanging around in the sewing room since last summer.

This is the pieced back that I assembled at the retreat and I had high expectations that I'd get it pinned and quilted while I was there--and could watch a movie in the comfy lounge area while sewing on the binding!  But that was not to be--I'd forgotten to bring the batting!  Oh well, I'll take care of that in a day or two and then it' going into the Jolly Ruby store and hopefully will be on a satisfied customer's table for the summer.

I've been wanting to make something with a bundle of red,white, and blue fat quarters I'd purchased a few years ago.  I don't know about you, but sometimes fabric just has to marinate in my stash for a long time before it can come out and be used. Am I the only one like this?  Please, tell me I'm not alone in this! At any rate, I brought the bundle along and made up this Xs and Os table runner and this too will be quilted up and will go into Jolly Ruby. I have enough fabric left over from the bundle to make a couple of other things as well. I'm thinking maybe a square table quilt or maybe a set of placemats.  We'll see.

No retreat would be complete without a little shopping, right?  I went with some of the others to a tiny quilt shop in Sand Creek WI called Heart Blossom  which I'd been wanting to see for a year or more.  It was wonderful!  Not only a nice selection of fabrics--especially batiks--but embroidery patterns and wool applique patterns and supplies too.  Just up my alley!

I couldn't help myself and I bought this pattern I'd been drooling over on-line for awhile.  It's called "Among the Pines" and it'll be perfect hanging in the TV room upstairs, or in my sewing room.  It's a little hard to see the details, but each block is something from the Northwoods--canoe, skiing, snowshoeing, a black bear, and so forth.  My heart has always been in the northern wilderness so this embroidered pattern is perfect for me.

Before I begin working on this embroidery, however, I have a little knitting I need to finish for my American Girl doll wardrobe.  And I have to nag Don to get the supplies to make up a clothes rack for the clothes. I really enjoy making these doll clothes and hope they sell at the quilt tour shop we're setting up.

So, I have accomplished a lot of sewing over the weekend and have a lot more to work on now that I'm home. Better get on it!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Quilt show results

I had delivered my Farmhouse Flowers to the quilt show in Rice Lake on Friday afternoon and in my mind, I made a plan to return the next day between 2 and 3 to see the show and to be there at the end to pick up my quilt.  The plan worked just great except I was a little late leaving home to get to the show at the time I'd planned. I arrived at 3:17 to find people carrying things out to their vehicles in the parking lot.

What's with that, I says to myself?  When I went inside, there were people all over the show room, taking down the quilts.  Turns out, the show ended at 3 pm, not the 4 or 5 pm that I'd expected.  Oh well, I got to see a few quilts before I turned a corner and spotted mine still hanging. I asked for the judges' comments and got my second lesson of the day. No judging at this show.  They only asked for viewer's choice voting.  So, I took my quilt and went back home.

I am quite disappointed today.  I'd planned all year to enter in this show as I had done about 5 years ago and I was looking forward to getting the judges' comments. On my previous entry, there had been comments, so I expected the same now.  Someone at the show explained that there was a group who felt strongly that there should be no judging at this show so that's what they do now.

So this means that I'm going to have to find other shows where there is judging in order to get the feedback I'm wanting and needing.  In the meantime, I've hung the Farmhouse Flowers in the living room where it'll stay for the summer.

Now, on to finishing some bits and pieces of WIPs that have been calling to me, and then to kit up several projects to bring with me to quilt retreat this weekend.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Farmhouse Flowers

Here she is--Farmhouse Flowers!  Finished up and ready to go. So much work went into this quilt! 

First the embroidery which included some fancy stitching I'd never even tried before but it turned out pretty well, I think. I did the embroidery last April and May when I was recovering from knee replacement surgery, so I think we can say I began this quilt a year ago.

Wild Roses and Berry Jam

Queen Anne's Lace

Hydrangea, Lily of the Valley, and Bleeding Heart with a Bumblebee

Forget-Me-Nots and California Poppy

Then making a gajillion small pinwheels--spinning the centers to reduce the bulk and then sewing them into the sashing strips, making sure to not cut off any of the points--and that meant unsewing and resewing more than a few times! I made the pinwheels at guild retreat last October and got the top totally pieced in January. 

Then the pieced backing. It took awhile, especially with the inset piece in the center of it, and in the end it was just a hair too short for the top. I went ahead and quilted it up anyway and after trimming the edges and stitching on the binding, all was well.  No naked uncovered parts on the back.  :) Yes, I was a happy girl!

Then the quilting, which I can't show right now since the quilt is in the washer.  Somehow, I managed to get 2 spots on the white embroidery fabric that aren't too noticeable, but I can see them so I hope I can get them out.  As for the quilting, I did a free motion vine and leaf pattern over all the embroidered squares, but not in the embroidered sections.  The pinwheel sashing was the most difficult because the needle had to pass through several thicknesses of batik fabrics in some areas and if I went too fast, the thread would break.  So I had to remind myself to ease up on the gas a little.  Then another vine and leaf in the first cream colored border and nothing in the turquoise flange. I used a swirly floral stencil in the final wide outer border which turned out pretty well.  Binding stitched on last night while I watched a few episodes of "Bomb Girls" on Netflicks. Reminder to self--Never, Ever use a batik binding again!  My finger tips are quite tender this morning from pushing and pulling the needle through the cloth!

So, the quilt was finished last night and first thing this morning, I checked on line to see if the quilt show was still taking entries this late, and they are!  So I registered on line, printed out the labels, and will bring it in to the drop off spot this afternoon.  The show is tomorrow and I'm looking forward to seeing all the beautiful quilts on display.

I don't go to very many quilt shows but this one I really enjoy attending. Maybe it's because many of the quilters in my old guild usually enter, maybe it's because the quilts are quite well made. Maybe it's because there are many great vendors there!  Yeah, I think that must be it!  At any rate, I think this is a safe show to enter my first show quilt and learn what the judges have to say about it.  I promise I'll let you know tomorrow, no matter how bad (or good) it may be.   And frankly, I'd appreciate hearing from you what you think of this quilt as well. How will I ever improve my skills if I don't get critiqued, right?