Thursday, March 18, 2010

Instant retirement!

One of my finished quilt tops for 2010. This was a Block of the Month kit from our now departed, "Sew Creative" quilt shop. I always like to make some changes to make my efforts just a bit different from others participating in the same BOM. For this one, I purchased a couple scrap bags of the fabrics, and made many different tea-cups in the borders, changed three of the fabrics in the four pieced tea pots, and used piping to frame the blocks, instead of a mini-border. The pattern was Sweet Tea by Quakertown Quilts (I think!)

This was a BOM purchased on sale; the pattern is Lori Smith's Ode to the 30's. I highly recommend the BOM's offered by Stitchin' Heaven in Quitman, Texas. Each block kit came packaged with a fabric swatch detail, noting the block piece to which it was assigned. That made it nearly impossible to make a mistake. Also, the pieces were generously cut. Since I'm somewhat of a scrap nut, I kept all the scraps, and if a fabric appeared for the second time, I tried to cut as much as possible from the left-overs. That left me with some nice large scraps for future projects!

This one is Old Tobacco Road, and it is large, as the photo shows. This was completely made from scraps, and is a Bonnie Hunter design. I love it! Her designs always start with small components, but she launches each project with simple blocks, and before you know it, those little pieces have turned into a giant gem! This was my second mystery of Bonnie's designs, but there will be more. I've got Double Delight in progress, and just need to make about 9000 three-inch nine-patches to finish it!

Finally, my most favorite BOM, also started from the shop, Sew Creative. This was Santa's of the World, and included a pieced block as well as an applique block each month. Once again, wanting to put my stamp on it, I made the choice to change some of the mini-blocks to a red pieced frame around some component in the applique blocks. In the center, you can almost see the gold jug, and a little wagon block. Others included a doll, a doll house, a rocking horse, a star, horns, a heart, an evergreen tree, and candles.

To put my own mark on the individual Santa blocks, I embroidered the country of origin and the name of the Santa. The kits included one white fabric to be used for all the pieces of the beard. I found a panel to make a stuffed lamb, and used it to cut the largest pieces , which gave more depth to the beard.

My final alteration was to add the topper, "Here Comes Santa Claus!" For this, I used some software (Printmaster Platinum) to create a banner in the appropriate size, and interesting shape. I marked the letters on red fabric, and appliqued the peppermint stripe letters to it. Then, I trimmed them to leave about an 1/8th of an inch around each letter, and appliqued the doubled letters to the background. It makes it appear to be satin stitched in place, but it is all hand-applique. I think I like this addition best of all! It gave the added advantage of adding some length to a square quilt. Finally, I finished it all off with a piano key border of many of the fabrics used in the top itself.
I finally rounded up the hardware to my quilt frame, . . . put it where it was safe, and it was so safe, I couldn't find it! The frame is up in our den, where I can easily see the television . . . if I want to. I have a quilt nearly finished in the frame, and I'm focusing on finishing it, soon.

Just three days after my last post, my boss called me in to terminate my job. I think I'm mostly over the shock now . . . and beginning to enjoy not hearing the clock radio click on in the morning when I'm warm and cozy in my bed. I should give kudos to General Electric. My mother bought my radio for my 11th birthday, when I was just starting in junior high. It has awakened me for the last 52 years. They just don't build them like that any more! Now it is in semi-retirment, at least. I'll probably have to use it occassionally, but not every day!
So, I'm all set . . . if there is a cotton or wool yarn shortage in our future, I have a very good stash to protect my interests. Since my last day at work, I have been knitting socks (pix next time). Yesterday, I decided that I would begin knitting mittens for Christmas, and I found some lovely patterns on-line. The first pair, called "Cabobble Mittens" are on the needles, and the cuff is nearly finished, using some yarn I hand-dyed. If I can make a pair every two or three weeks, I'll have a nice selection to share at Christmas.
Watch for more pictures and projects here!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Wowed 'em at Show and Tell!

I'm always teased when I have lots of projects for Guild show and tell, and last Tuesday was no exception. I had my five recently assembled quilt tops; fortunately, Claire also brought lots of finished quilt tops, too. So, that meant there were two of us to pick on.

Our current president, Cheryl, likes to launch the meetings with a survey, or something to think about. At next meeting, it's going to be true confessions . . . how many projects in progress, how many quilt tops ready to be quilted. I needed to pull all of mine out anyway, so I started the count. I have 48 bed sized quilt tops ready to be quilted. I sorted that stack into those to be hand-quilted, and those to be machine quilted by Viki in exchange for hand-knit socks. Those two stacks came to 30 for Viki, and 18 for myself. This count, of course, includes only those that are actually ready to be quilted. I laid four tops aside to be donated as charity quilts; there are about half a dozen that I probably won't quilt, but I still have some emotional attachment or something . . . I just can't let them go . . . yet! Hey, Viki . . . do you need about 150 pairs of socks?

Over the weekend, I worked on my Bonnie Hunter mystery (#4), Double Delight. I have about 40 square-in-a-square units to trim, and then 4 million nine-patches to make to finish that one. Also, pulled out a project from a mystery taught in 2006, by my dear friend, Laura. She was teaching the class at a now gone shop called, "Sew Creative" . . . and Roseanna and I decided to sign up to surprise her. We had a great day, but I put the quilt top away, and haven't gone back to it. Pulling it out gave me an opportunity to remember a fun-time spent with Laura and Roseanna . . . and I have all the blocks sewn, ready to press and assemble. I'm fiddling with the outer border, which will be a vine; picking up an idea from the background fabric, the flowers will be red hearts. I was trying to locate a green in my stash for the vine and leaves, when some minor inspirational nag in the back of my mind suggested making the leaves from scraps . . . my green drawer is just about to overflow again. So, I guess that means I only need to locate a suitable green to be the vine.

My other sit and sew project is a Bonnie Hunter (can you tell I'm a fan) pattern using Kab-net Wax paper as a foundation, and "strings" to make blocks. (Strings are narrow strips, though I have used mostly 1 inch, 1 1/2 inch and 2-inch. I don't know why I am obsessed with big quilts, but I'm planning to make about another 18 ten-inch blocks, before putting this project on the completed flimsy side bar! This is a kind of funny one, because it started with another's scraps. Linda G. had a shoe-box full of strips, and was making piano key borders. She finished her project and was going to throw the shoe-box in the trash! My heart nearly stopped . . . I grabbed the box, and started my string blocks, adding some from my stash, too. My DSIL, Jan, also used some of them . . . adding from my stash . . . oh, well, I have plenty to spare! Any way, I suggested passing the box around, and I need to pass it on to the next player who made the call, Ginny.

Not neglecting my knitting, I am nearing the heel on the second Jaywalker sock for Viki, and plodding away at my SFS pair, too. For no brainer knitting in the car, I launched a pair for myself in Cat Bordhi's classic pattern, using some Debra Norville sock yarn with aqua, lime green, and a mottled reddish brown and white . . . it's really cute, not as disgusting as it sounds!

Grandson and his buddy, Trevor, will be my shadows on Saturday . . . Grandpa will be working the auction, and I'm going to get the boys started with a penny book, the beginnings of a coin collection. They want to go to the auction, too. Grandson really likes to help put the chairs and tables away after the sale . . . it doesn't hurt that Grandpa usually finds a couple dollars in his pocket for Drew, too.

Pictures up next, double dog promise!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

UFO's becoming finished objects!

I launched the new year with the completion of two quilt tops . . . applied the borders to my Old Tobacco Roads, a 2008 mystery from Bonnie Hunter's Quiltville site. Also put the borders on an old Block of the Month, Sweet Tea.

We had our annual Retreat at Miss Mary's Quilting Cottage, and I assembled my Santas of the World, including borders, and worked on my previously cut Double Delight . . . still lots of work to go on that one.

Over the weekend, I assembled Ode to the 1930's, a kit I purchased from Stitchin' Heaven in Quitman, Texas. The pattern by Lori Smith, had been a block of the month for them the year before. I started the blocks at the Guild Retreat in September. I finished all the pieced blocks in the interim, and then all the applique blocks. It has a "cottage" setting, with blocks in four sizes, 3-inch, 6-inch, 9-inch and 12-inch. It was time-consuming to assemble, but once that was done, the borders went on quickly. I have to highly recommend Stitchin' Heaven. The kits were so well done, and easy to follow. Each month's blocks came with a color chart indicating which fabric was to be used in each block. As I progressed, I put stickers on the overall design chart.

So, here it is, February 9, and I have four finished quilt tops! Big ones, too! Last night, I kind of looked around at some of my other projects to decide what to work on next. I have a complete set of blocks from the first Paducah Booth Hop, and had made an appliqued center for it. I was fiddling around trying to decide if I should try to find more of the fabrics, and make it larger. I laid it out on the floor with the blocks just abutting the applique center; I've decided to cut to the chase, and put it together as it is, with a plain and then a pieced border. It will be a nice cuddle quilt size, and with the snow coming all day today, that sounds very appealing.

I also looked over an Illiana Quilt Shop Hop kit where I have all the blocks assembled. I designed a Mariner's Compass to be part of that quilt, and just need to get busy and piece it. Have plenty of fabrics, so I need to pay some more attention to that one.

I've been in a bit of a knitting frenzy, too. Just keep looking at sock yarn sales, like I need to accumulate any more of that . . . currently OTN are a pair of olive drab Socks for Soldiers . . . i'm knitting those two at a time, and it seems to go more slowly that way. The yarn is Regia Stretch, and the pattern is a classic knit 2, purl 2. I'm really liking the texture of the knit. Also, working on a pair of Jaywalkers for my friend, the long-arm quilter, Viki. The yarn is On-line Savanne, and boy, are they bright. The zig-zags of the pattern really show off the yarn well. Viki has posted a picture of the pair I just finished for her . . . that I forgot to photograph for my sock journal, so her blog-post has been substituted.

I'm also working on a pair of "Sam" from Cookie A's book, "Innovative Sock Knitting" for Viki with a light blue and gray, with a metallic thread. That pattern requires a lot of attention. The other evening as I was working on them, DH asked if I was all right. I said, sure, why wouldn't I be? And he said I was counting out loud . . . so, obviously, I was really into what I was doing. I hate to frog socks or most any knitting, for that matter.

I'm off to set up my featherweight in front of the television, and put that Booth Hop quilt together. Then, I can have FIVE quilt tops to take to the next Guild Show and Tell!