Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Finishing Challenges

Amy reminded me of the importance of moving projects past the flimsy stage, to actually finishing the quilt. For quilters whose favourite part of quilting is sewing blocks and constructing quilt tops, the finishing part is often more challenging. Boxes of quilt tops in a closet are of no use to anyone!
The One Monthly Goal program helps me to try to move at least one project closer to completion each month. But sometimes a quilt takes a little longer, and when it's out of sight, it's often out of mind.
Such was the case with my wonderful "Tied up in Knots" quilt. It was my UFO of the month for December last year and I made a good start on the quilting. Then the Christmas season of overwhelm hit, and the quilt got buried under other projects.
After reading Amy's post, I went in search of that quilt to see what the hold up was. 
All the blocks are quilted and this thing is so close to being finished. I remembered that I got stalled at the stage of figuring out the math for quilting a diamond design in the sashing. This is a photo of using different sizes of squares to try to visualize how the design might look. 
Now that my taxes are done, my brain has a little more space for crunching numbers!  So I'll sit with the math problem again tonight and see if I can solve that, figure out a stitching path, and get this project on a direct path to finishing.
Hop over to Sew Fresh Quilts and see what other quilters are working on today!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Design Wall Monday

Progress is continuing on my Churn Dash/Nine Patch project. I decided it might be fun to sew this quilt top together by sewing the blocks into sets of 4, instead of joining long rows. Here are the first 9 blocks on the design wall. Will I have the courage to sew them together randomly? Or will I need to lay them out on the design wall to balance the colours? I'm thinking about throwing caution to the wind, putting these blocks in a brown paper bag, pulling them out and sewing them together... eeeekkks! 
What would you do?!?
To see more design walls, hop over to Small Quilts.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Happy Earth Day

Welcome to the weekly hand stitching link up! 

Since it's April 22nd, the theme for today's party is "earth day". Although we should be taking care of our earth every day, today is set aside to focus on reducing environmental protection and the theme this year is "end plastic pollution". I have had my eye on a couple of polluted areas of town that I plan to clean up today... after a little bit of slow stitching and blog visiting of course!

Around here it has been cold and miserable for longer than usual. This is how the daffodils looked in my parent's snow covered garden on Friday. But the sun came out yesterday and melted much of it, and we are wondering if the daffodils will be able to recover from the deep freeze.

It'll be too cold to have any outdoor flowers for a couple of months yet, but if you're longing for some flowers, you can stitch as many flowers as you want. Stitched flowers are still pretty, but unscented, which might be a good thing for those stitchers with allergies! Today I'll be working on some hand embroidered flowers from Gail Pan's BOM. 
What are you hand stitching today? Link up your blog post below and share your project with us. Are you stitching flowers today and wishing for spring weather to bring us real flowers!?!


    An InLinkz Link-up

Friday, April 20, 2018

Orillia Visit

I've had computer problems this week so haven't had a chance to post about my wonderful day in Orillia on Wednesday. My photo program had to be reloaded, and the operating system needed an overhaul, and in my nonexistent spare time I've been chatting with "AppleCare" staff in other parts of the world to figure all of this out. Computers can be so great and also so stressful. I will try to post some photos and will be amazed if they appear!
I wanted to take a photo of my "Scrap Rescue 911" quilt in the snow. When I finished it in February, there was no snow. And here it is the middle of April and now we have snow! Such weird spring weather this year. 
I went for a walk by Lake Couchiching looking for a spot to photograph this quilt, and found this perfect rock. You can't tell in this photo, but it was really windy, so this was the one lucky shot where the quilt wasn't blowing away.

I also like this photo. I was laughing to myself as I positioned the quilt because I wasn't sure what I was walking on here at the water's edge here and was hoping the ground was solid under the snow! I envisioned myself showing up to the guild meeting soaking wet!

Anyway, I was able to enjoy a brisk walk, took some fun photos, and arrived to the right places and the right times. The guild members were very attentive and encou
raging, and we had wonderful conversation. Here is the afternoon guild members starting to assemble.

And this is the location for the evening guild meeting - Thimbles and Things. What a fun store! If I lived around here, I'd be spending a lot of time and money here! There is so much to see ... and look who I found?!? 

This is my quilty friend Christine from Cookstown, who randomly appears at quilting events and it's so fun to see her when I least expect it. We last met at Quilt Canada 2016 and have taken several classes together over the years... unplanned and synchronistically! 
I am so thankful that the driving was good and the roads were clear for this trip since the last week was horrendous weather. And now I'm home safe and sound, and in much need of some sewing time!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Mid month UFO report

Since the weather outside has been fierce and wintery, with ice storms and high winds, I have been "sewing up a storm" inside too. I just finished up a huge cone of neutral Aurifil thread. That's a lot of thread put into fabric in my sewing projects! 

When another empty spool is added to my collection jar, it feels like there should be a celebration of accomplishment, especially when it's a cone (5,900 metres) vs. a spool (1,300 metres)!

16 of the last 18 Ringo blocks

Although lots of sewing is going on, the April UFO goal is not anywhere near completion. All the blocks have been sewn for my version of On Ringo Lake. I have a total of 48 blocks sewn, for a layout of 6 blocks across and 8 blocks down. 30 of these blocks are sewn together, so now I will be attaching the last 18 blocks. And then there is the border to work on. That's okay, I still have a week and a half to the end of the month.

From Queen of Your Own Life
And today I'm off on a road trip to Orillia to speak to two groups of wonderful women.... the Orillia Quilters Guild in the afternoon and in the evening... the Evening Threads Quilt Guild! It will be an interesting and perhaps challenging trip depending on the weather and whether there are road closures (notice the clever use of homonyms in that sentence!) 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Donation Quilts

Every year my local quilt guild donates many quilts to worthy causes in our community. Just as with all acts of kindness, we never really know how sending symbols of love into the universe will evolve and unfold. 

My daughter emailed me a copy of this facebook note regarding the gift of a quilt that was received by a brave soul, who was willing to publicly thank the anonymous quilt maker from our community.
This is her post with the identifiers removed.
This is precisely the reason why we make these quilts. It's why we invest our own money and time to create symbols of comfort and safety... because it helps to heal the wounds of others.

This reminder motivated me to get working on some quilt blocks for the guild collection. We have a very hard working committee that takes fabric donations and organizes them into block kits for guild members to sew. I picked up 4 packages this month and each baggie has a pattern and all the fabric needed to sew the block. 

This block pattern had a lot of HST blocks but it went together well and will make a great quilt.

If you are looking for a place where you can a donate quilt or quilt blocks, hop over to Sarah's Hands2Help Charity Quilt Challenge for ideas and inspiration.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Design Wall Monday - Churn Dash and 9 Patch

Here are some of the blocks for my current project on the design wall. These are the churn dashes from Barb's block swap and the 9 patch blocks I've been sewing. I'm loving how they look together! There is a circular element that develops when these blocks are side by side, and as I continue to sew more blocks and put them on the design wall, I'll be thinking about how to emphasize that circular movement when it's time for quilting. 

But first... let's not get ahead of ourselves! There is still a lot of sewing and pressing to finish before the quilt top construction can begin.

And giving credit where credit is due... this layout design idea came from a photo I saw on the internet while googling "churn dash blocks" and I was able to trace it back to a quilt by Mary Manson called Colorways.

Hop over to Small Quilts to see more design wall postings.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Slow Sunday Resting

Welcome to the weekly hand stitching party! 

It has been a weekend of freezing rain and ice in my neck of the woods. That means staying at home since driving is unsafe. I realized how rare it is that I stay home for a whole day! Which made me think of when Sunday used to be a whole day of rest for everyone. Except for going to church, everyone stayed home to rest. Does anyone remember those days?!? You weren't allowed to do any work (well, except the women who still cooked and served food, and then cleaned up and washed the dishes) and mostly you spent time visiting with family and friends, resting, and enjoying good conversation.
Fast forward to 2018, where we feel guilty if we sit down to rest for a few minutes! 

Yesterday I rested much of the day and did a lot of hand embroidery. I know that if the weather was not terrible, it would have been "business as usual" and I would have been out and about, running errands, getting groceries, etc.
But instead I felt relaxed and finished 2 more blocks of the "I Stitch" club by Gail Pan.... a heart and a butterfly. Today I will be tracing out the next block, putting in a few more stitches, and continuing to rest.

From Simplicity Relished
Resting is NOT clicking around on a computer/iPad, or scrolling  through Facebook messages, or watching TV. It means to really disconnect yourself from any devices and screens (after you finish reading this of course!) and just... R E S T.  Try doing nothing and give your brain some time to power down. Stare out the window, go for a walk (if it's not icy!), breathe deeply, pick up your hand stitching project, put in a few stitches, and repeat. 

I love this line from Daisy at Simpicity Relished:

"Resting takes courage. Resting says, “I am okay with what I’m missing. I’m okay with what I can’t do. I recognize my limits. I submit to my own needs.”
WOW! Can you do that? How about for 15 minutes? 
And to fill up your spirit, hop over to Rosie's Arty Stuff to see her beautiful "Rest, Restore and Renew" inspiration. Make it as big as you can on your screen as there is so much to see in her work.

What are you hand stitching today? We love to see the slow progress you are making with your projects. Your stitches inspire all of us!


    An InLinkz Link-up

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Scrappy Saturday

Today the local forecast is for lots of freezing rain, and we haven't seen much of the sun lately. But it's all sunshine and yellow over at the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.

We are being encouraged to use up some yellow and gold scraps this month.  I had fun digging in the scrap bins to find small pieces to use up in my April Squared Away sampler blocks.  This is the 4th block for the sampler and is appropriately called 4X Star.

5" Squared Away blocks

I am making 4 blocks each month for my sampler and these use some of my favourite scraps.The yellow with circles in the bottom left block is one of my favourite Kaffe Paperweight fabrics. I don't know what happened with the top left block... I got really carried away with fussy cutting those flowers which are on a gold background, but I had to cut them so small, they only look pink. Oh well... they will fit into the sampler quilt somehow.

To see what other quilters are making with their sunshiny fabric scraps, hop over to the weekly RSC link up.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Guild Report and 9 Patches

I had a lovely visit with the Hamilton Quilters Guild last night. What a great audience they were. They didn't make me feel like I was an odd duck at all! This is a photo of part of the audience after my lecture was over and you can see some of my quilts hanging on the other side of the room.

Doing a trunk show is always a good time to give some of my quilts an airing out and refolding. How many quilts does one person need?!?! LOL
Truthfully, quilt storage is starting to become an issue but what a great problem to have!

I have been enjoying some mindless sewing after work these days. Sometimes that is the only kind of sewing that can be accomplished when your brain is full of other things. 
I always try to have at least one or two projects on the go that are relaxing and simple, and no brain power is required to make progress. 
This week, my "no brainer" project is making 9 patch blocks to be the alternate blocks for my churn dash swap blocks. All the patches are cut, so it's just a matter of putting them through the sewing machine. So fun!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Guild Trip

I'm packing up my favourite quilts and preparing to speak at the Hamilton Quilters Guild tonight. It's always a bit nerve wracking to talk honestly about my quilting life because I recognize that I am a bit of a unique character, or as I was recently described ..."an odd duck"! LOL  

From Bonnie at Quiltville

I often wonder what people are really thinking when I'm talking, and I think it's probably something like "wow she really is crazy"! But I have often found that in any group of quilters, there are also other "odd ducks" like me, and they can relate in some way to most of the unusual things I say and do. 

piles of quilts to share

And here's a fun fact...
I visited this same Hamilton guild on Wednesday April 11th in 2012, and here it is exactly 6 years later, and I'll be right back there again on Wednesday April 11th, 2018! You can read about the 2012 visit here. It is interesting to look at the photos from that lecture because I remember many of those quilts but don't have them anymore. I know exactly where some of the quilts are and others I think "Hmmmm ... I wonder what happened to that quilt"?!? 

Monday, April 09, 2018

Design Wall Monday

Last month I received 66 civil war reproduction churn dash blocks from Barb's block swap. I have been trying to make a decision about a layout for the blocks and have started making 9 patch blocks as possible alternate blocks. It's always hard to know if an idea is going to work out as it is envisioned in a quilter's mind! But here are the 30 possible alternate blocks on the design wall. It's a work in progress and it's at the designing stage, which means these could be voted off the island at any time! They may or may not be part of the final layout... we'll see how it progresses this week.
To see more design wall postings, hop over to Small Quilts.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Slow Sunday Stitching

Welcome to the weekly hand stitching party, where we value the slow process of creating with our own hands. If you knit, bead, hand quilt, cross stitch, embroider, tat, applique, hook rugs, hand piece quilt blocks, and/or enjoy english paper piecing, you will find other like-minded stitchers here!

I have finally finished block #6 of Gail Pan's embroidery BOM and am looking forward to tracing the next 3 designs that were sent out in March. It's always a challenge for me to not constantly feel behind with a BOM. I tell myself I am "right on schedule" and try to enjoy each stitchery, without concern for the fact that even though I have 3 more patterns to stitch from last month, and there will be 3 new patterns released next week, it is not a race. And I do not want to turn my  pleasurable hobby into something stressful with deadlines.

I say to myself " I am right on schedule" and the stitching will be enjoyed and completed as my time permits!

In the comments on last Sunday's post  Janice asked to see the back of an embroidery block, so Janice... here you go... this is the back.  You can see places where I have pulled some of the thread colours from one area to the next, but it doesn't show on the front (I am stitching on a piece of muslin). I try to clip off any long thread tails, but generally don't bother much with how it looks from the back.

What are you working on this week? Please share your hand stitching project with us by linking up your blog post below.


    An InLinkz Link-up

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Scrappy Saturday

Ringo Lake blocks being transformed  into 4X Star blocks
It has been such a busy week that I haven't had much time to sew or to get the scraps organized yet for the month of April sewing. The RSC'ers are working with yellow and gold scraps this month.
I have quite a few odd sizes of incorrectly sewn gold blocks left over from cutting my Ringo Lake blocks. I'd like to get them sewn into some useable blocks and this is the perfect way to do that. I am trimming the pieces to 1.5" to use in the 4th block of the Squared Away sampler project.

I'm combining yellow and gold scraps and will spend a wonderful afternoon in the quilt studio, cutting and sewing pieces for the 4X Star blocks. Here is the first one laid out and ready to sew.

To see more yellow and gold projects, hop over to the weekly RSC link up.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Aurifil March DOM

Aurifil DOM block

The Aurifil block for March is called "Lisbon Tile". It is a paper pieced pattern by designer Jo Avery  from Scotland. It's been a while since I did some paper piecing, so I was really looking forward to starting this month's block. 

I try to chain piece as much as is possible with paper piecing. With this block having 4 quadrants, I sewed the same section consecutively on the 4 blocks. It was so fun to enjoy some paper piecing again! 

Here is the first quadrant finished.
I used 5 fabrics... a white, a black, and 3 teals.

What took me the most time with this month's block (the pattern was posted March 15th) was my inability to get the pattern to print out at the correct size.
February and March DOM blocks
Printing a pattern from a computer website rarely goes well for me, and I was unable to resize the block to get it to print the pattern at the correct size.  I even tried downloading the pattern to a USB stick and printing it at Staples. It still didn't print out the correct size. I also tried to resize it on the photocopier which made it more wonky and not square. 
I briefly considered redrafting my own pattern to the correct size using the old fashioned pencil, ruler and paper method, but considering how much time I had already spent on this block and didn't even have a pattern yet, I just decided to go ahead and sew it as it was. My block measures 11 3/4” instead of the desired 12 1/2”. As you can see, it's not even close to the size of the February block. Oh well, it turned out great and was lots of fun to sew, and I'll have to fix the size problem with sashing or some other kind of magical solution when it's time to put the blocks together!
You can see more finished blocks here.

Addendum... my friend Jackie just printed out the block pattern without difficulty, so it's clearly an issue of my lack of technological finesse :)

Monday, April 02, 2018

Design Wall Monday

It's a new month and that means a new UFO goal to work on. The March UFO is out of sight for a while (until I recover) and this month's project is to get my Ringo Lake blocks into a quilt top. Here are 30 blocks on the design wall, with one seam remaining to join the top 20 to the bottom 10. 
I still want to make 20 more blocks, sew them together, and add the border blocks before the end of April. 

It is a lot of pinning because when joining two blocks together there are 8 points that I would very much like to meet. Sometimes "close enough" has to be the motto! When you join 5 blocks to 5 blocks, that means 40 pins at all the matching places. 
What will be refreshing with this month's project is that I really really like it, so I will enjoy all the pinning and sewing!
Linking up to One Monthly Goal at Elm Street Quilts, and Design Wall Monday over at Small Quilts

Sunday, April 01, 2018

Slow Sunday Stitching

Happy Easter and Happy Slow Stitching Sunday and Happy April Fools Day! There are so many things to celebrate today!
Did you see this lovely photo on Jocelyn's blog last week? This brought back so many precious memories of when my Dad used to read to us at bedtime when we were kids. He read lots of Beatrix Potter with wonderful illustrations of woodland creatures stitching.

We also loved the Thornton Burgess books. I still have some of these books and here they are with my hand embroidery project.
With everything that's going on in this photo you might not notice, but can you see how I pull all the threads to the top of the hoop? Those are threads that I want to continue later in the blocks, but want them to stay out of the way while I'm stitching with another colour. It works for me!
What are you stitching today? 

No joking... we want to see what you're up to!


    An InLinkz Link-up

Saturday, March 31, 2018

March UFO Goal MET!

Demonstrating extreme persistence and after many hours of measuring, sewing, swearing, unsewing, and resewing, I am so pleased to announce that I met my UFO goal this month! 
My March goal was to turn a dozen asterisks blocks into a quilt top. Many times I was tempted to toss the whole thing in the garbage UFO closet and sew something else that was fun and easy, but I didn't. Yah me!
The first task was to make a few more asterisk blocks in order to make a layout of 5 rows.
The biggest challenge was the amount of background fabric I had. There were a number of "unique" greens in these blocks, and of course at the beginning of this project I had no idea what it might become. It just started out as making some fun blocks at a guild event back in 2014 and it just wanted to grow into a lap size quilt. But I wasn't sure if there was enough of the background fabrics to work with and I really didn't want to buy more.

Determined to use up what I had, it was "game on"!
I began by joining the blocks into rows. Each block was a different size, so first I had to trim the larger blocks down, or add sashing to smaller blocks to bring them up to useable sizes. In this photo, the top two rows are sewn together, and I was still working on getting the bottom three rows joined into a useable size. 
I also made a few small blocks because I just can't help myself!

I still don't like the look of these 3 small blocks in the bottom row, even though I spent quite a bit of time on that section. I finally just had to walk away from it and call it "good enough".

Truthfully this month's project was not enjoyable. I'm not sure if it was so hard because the process was complicated and involved a lot of math, or because I didn't like how it was turning out? But I do feel terrific about the accomplishment, even if I don't like the end product, and am quite chuffed to link up to One Monthly Goal. This will definitely become a donation quilt and needs to be far away from me! I will wait for a month or two to work on the quilting because we need a break from each other! I'll be choosing a different project to work on for my April UFO.

I'm also linking up to the Rainbow Scrap Challenge where green was the colour for March. I only had a few  green scraps leftover from this project, so I turned some of them into a maverick star block to add to the collection. 
I'm so ready to bring on the month of yellow and gold scraps!

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Square Dance Mystery

The next step for Carole's Square Dance mystery quilt has been posted. I am making a chocolate flavoured lap sized version of this mystery. Last month we sewed the nine patch blocks and this month is another easy step sewing rectangles together.

It was a lovely relaxing afternoon of sewing these rectangles together. The top batch has a light fabric with darks. And the bottom batch has mediums and darks. 
Don't these look good enough to eat?!? 
Now we have to wait a few weeks for the next step, which is a great pace for a mystery. It allows so many other projects to be worked on in between.
Are you dancing along with the Square Dance mystery?!?
Linking up to Sew Fresh Quilts.