Friday, January 30, 2015

Irish Chain Top is Done


I'm doing a happy dance because the top is done, the wool batting is ordered (please arrive very quickly) and the backing will be pieced today, ready for assembly.

Yes, this is a traditional setting, the Irish Chain, but I chose to put my own spin on it by making the Irish Chain blocks scrappy, and then added in pieced "solid" scrappy blocks between.  There is lots of symbolism in this quilt, from the few reddish-brown squares interspersed in the red blocks, symbolizing a certain dog named Brandy, to greens that have forests of trees on, for the Adirondacks, to the sand and sea ivory fabric in the sashing for Florida, and to the kelly (shamrock) greens.  No actual shamrock fabric, drat.

I will post the directions to make this quilt, should anyone feel the urge.  It uses up 261 squares, just 1 yard of background, and 2/3 yard of border fabric.  It measures 59" square.


Somehow I still have this high of a stack of 3" squares left!  How does that happen??  As I commented to someone, I swear they breed overnight while I'm asleep...  You'll notice that I have a couple of sketches peeking out from when I was first designing the quilt...


Linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict and with Quilting is More Fun than Housework.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

WIP Wednesday Almost a Flimsy Finish



Here is the final page in the design process.  It met Bella's approval.  I have several other sketches, one of which is going to grow up into another quilt!  I do not have EQ7, but I might just get it with some Christmas money I received now that they have it for Mac.  I just worry about another diversion that will take me away from my sewing machine.

I knew I wanted to make blocks of scrappy squares.  I'd cut a lot of 3" squares last summer in blues, greens, purples, and reds when I was cutting 2.5" squares for a couple of Cynthia's Scrap-a-Palooza quilts. Why 3"?  I have no idea... why not?  I think I had a bunch of 3" squares left from another project.

Sorry for the poorly lit indoor pics.

Solid blocks complete and in a pleasing arrangement

The person this quilt is going to has a special birthday coming up in February.  He is also of Irish heritage, and very proud of it.  A few weeks ago I was struck with the idea of incorporating an Irish chain pattern into the quilt.  At that stage I'd still been thinking of turning the scrappy squares blocks into half-square triangle blocks and playing with the light/dark myriad of patterns using that combination.  Could I do both?  I decided not.

Green and ivory 9-patches added
I didn't have many red squares cut, and not nearly enough green squares.  Thank goodness for leftover scraps from Fleurs, and for a handful of red scrap chunks I'd thrown in my toolbox with the idea of perhaps making a red background Snowalong snowflake or two.  I'd brought quite a few scraps and chunks of blues because of Scraps of Calm, and I had a handful of purples because of wanting to make a makeup pouch for a certain daughter.  I did not have enough yardage of a neutral to use in the sashing (here yet again, is a woe from not being able to bring my entire stash; I have several potential pieces up North...) but at Alma Sue's Quilts I found the perfect fabric, ivory with white embossed(?) seaside images from P&B Textiles.  I also picked up a couple 1/4 yard pieces of $5/yard fabric in a kelly-green shade and this absolutely perfect Houndstooth (he has a dog, get it?!) fabric for the backing.
Pretty masculine, I think!

Here is the current stage, with the sashing and cornerstones all sewn up.  I've decided it needs a final green border.  Sigh. You guessed it; I don't have anything down here that would work.  Darn it all but I guess I have to make another pitstop at a LQS!  So this quilt is partially scrappy, partially new fabric.


Rocco and Bella find symmetry in my sewing room!
Harmony, peace, symmetry and a puddle of morning sunshine!
Linking up with Freshly Pieced and Let's Bee Social.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Having Two Sewing Rooms Is Not All It's Cracked Up To Be

Since Lara, of Buzzin' Bumble asked me, about a month ago, how do I manage two sewing rooms, I've been thinking a lot on this.  I even started jotting some notes down for this very post.  Well, I got hit upside the head again today with the woes of two sewing rooms, so I thought it's high time I share some of my angst.

Now don't get me wrong, at first read, "(angst) at having two sewing rooms" is probably, "Like, say what? I'D LOVE THAT!!"

Sewing room in Ontario:
Bella is a permanent fixture whether it's North or South sewing room
I sew in a corner of our unfinished basement.  You can see the insulation and vapour barrier here.  My sewing desk is a piece of melamine laid across two IKEA short dressers.  The machine is not dropped in...yet...so I've done very little FMQ on my it since we moved there a little over two years ago.  Below you see my design wall which is the gridded flannel I purchased several years ago.  I used to have it mounted on 4X8' styrofoam panels and glued to one wall in my sewing room in Alberta. Now it is pinned to the studs and some of the plastic on one wall of the basement corner.

Brady's Christmas quilt in progress
My Avanté is also in our basement, in the other corner.  So technically I have half of the basement!  It will one day become a sewing room much like my last one, I know.  I have a very talented husband.  Who also has many demands on his time, and has hobbies/passions of his own.

Sewing room here in Florida:
A complete bedroom all to myself!

Photo-bombed again by Bella
In our condo I had to share with the guest bedroom.  Here I can spread out and make a mess no problemo.  You can see it is a bit of a mess at one end with cutting pieces for this latest quilt.  For large cutting, I take my big Olfa mat into the kitchen, but for smaller pieces the end of this L-shaped unit is perfect. These are pieces of IKEA Bestå from our condo living room that didn't work in this house.  Oh darn!

So what's so terrible about having two sewing rooms?  Well, here are the issues, in no apparent order.

1.  Hauling:  The obvious is that I have to cart my stuff 1000 miles between them when we leave one place for the other.  I have it down to a science now:  two Rubbermaid or Sterilite tubs, a terrific 2-part rolling toolbox I bought at Canadian Tire, (which stays mostly packed with essentials all year round, paper list inside.  You never know when a retreat might just beckon!), my machine in her rolling case (from Fabricland, a great buy with lots and lots of zippered pockets that can be, and are stuffed), and often a zippered vinyl pouch (from a comforter or sheet set, you know?) containing a project.  Or two.  Here I was in the spring of 2014 ready to head north:


One of the tubs isn't visible here, but you get the idea.

2.  Batting is bulky.  This year I brought down one 1/2 yard or so by 90" with a smaller chunk for perhaps small projects or to Frankenbatt.  I figured I could (and I did) go and buy some if needed.

3.  Chair:  my chair up north is much comfier than my cheap but serviceable IKEA chair I have here.  Both seem to have static electricity build-up! I've taken to wiping my hands from time to time on a dryer sheet which I have wrapped around my presser foot knee lift.  It helps.

4.  Stash:  WAAAAAHHHHH! That is the hardest part of this, period.  I've sewed since I was 12, quilted for 20 years; ergo considerable stash:  yardage, 1/2 yard or smaller pieces organized in stacking plastic sterilite drawers, and then scraps in ziploc bags and in Rubbermaid boxes.  I cannot cart it back and forth, so I have to decide on projects I want to complete, not that big of a deal, especially if I (and I usually do) have them organized with the fabric all together.  This year I brought down several scrap and/or small pieces of fabrics for various ongoing projects, but it's a fraction of what I have.  And it's never enough.

Example:  right now I am madly into, and loving, my next quilt, one I've designed myself!  It's going to a very special recipient... 'nuff said for now.


This afternoon I made the design decision to use many ivory 3" squares, in other words, scraps!  I have tons of neutral scraps in Kingsville.  Did I bring any?  Nope.  All I have is few scraps from the neutrals in Fleurs, and yardage for a winter quilt, as yet to be designed, but fabric is pulled.  Will I cut into the yardage?  Absolutely, for a half dozen or so 3" squares.  Will I have to visit Alma Sue's Quilts?  In all likelihood.  Makes me really depressed, can you tell?

5.  Threads:  not a problem...I pretty much bring 'em all!  I also have a great supplier close by, Sewing Supply Warehouse (online store) and their retail store, Expert Sewing Center.

6.  List of Essentials:  I learned to do this when I was in the guild in Alberta.  We had a weekend retreat once, sometimes twice a year.  Because of working full-time, this simplified and expedited the process of packing Thursday night to be ready to take off Friday right after work for the retreat.  I've carried it over into heading down to Florida in December and returning to Ontario in mid-April.

7.  No Avanté:  this is difficult, to be away from the machine for 4.5 months, especially when it is still very new to me.  However, I used my Bernina and my Elna before her for FMQ, and it isn't that big of a deal, although it is really a treat not to have to manipulate a quilt around a 7.5" throatplate.

Sadly, I always run into situations where I know I have the tool or the fabric, but it's not with me.  I bought Marti Michell's Peaky and Spike rulers last winter for a Christmas trees quilt.  I brought the fabric with me and forgot the rulers this year.  Either I will make templates (joy), I will figure out a way to do it without the rulers, or I won't make it this winter!  Luckily, I'm not out in the back of beyond, (as some of our retreats were, lol) so I can always go and buy something in person or online if really necessary.





Friday, January 23, 2015

Dell and June Quilt - A Finish!

And it has happened on Friday too!  This is also one of my goals in the first quarter for the 2015 Finish-Along with Adrianne at On the Windy Side. 

This quilt wasn't planned.  I had so much fun, and such a pleasing finish with Scraps of Calm, the May quilt at Quilting is More Fun Than Housework's Scrap-a-Palooza, and, let's be honest, still lots of blue scraps, that I decided to make the September 16-patch quilt.  I had thought I would most likely donate it to the seniors' residence across the street from our Kingsville home.  Then, I spoke with my Uncle Bob, my dad's brother, who is in his 80s, and is himself living in a seniors' residence in Alberta.  He told me how cold it gets in his room due to the glass in the windows not being of good quality.  My aunt told me that he likes to sit in his chair and look out the window, and that is where he feels the draft.  I immediately thought that this quilt needs to go to him.  ASAP.  He likes blue, too.  So it was meant to be.

Finished!  Laid out on the lawn before washing.
I stitched in the ditch between each block vertically and horizontally, forming a grid, using a grey Aurifil.  Then I did cross-hatching by stitching diagonally through each of the dark squares using a blue variegated Sulky Blendables thread in one direction and a Madeira polyneon forest green for the other direction.  This left about a 3" space unquilted in the light squares.  Well, I decided that was too big of a space.  I didn't want any poof there.  In actuality, it would have been fine, as I used Pellon's Nature's Touch cotton batting.  I've used this a couple of times and have been very pleased with the drape, even when quilted heavily.  Still, I knew something needed to go in the light squares.  So I did a simple swirl, travelling diagonally from one light square to another, and alternating the direction of the swirl with each row.

Here is what it looked like at the half way point
I didn't care for the dark green thread being so strong in the really light squares, and debated about ripping it all out.  Then I thought nope, this quilt needs to be done, needs to get into the mail, and needs to be being used, so hopefully the thread will sink in once it's washed and be less noticeable.  I loved the swirls effect however!  I decided to switch to a silvery grey Madeira polyneon for the last half of the swirls, and really really liked the result.  What a great thread.  I had to back my top tension off to 1 though for it to play nicely with the bottom Aurifil.

If you check the top picture, the swirls are not bothersome, and that was before washing, so I was already happy.  Yesterday I stopped in at Alma Sue's Quilts after yoga to buy some lots more of the Tula Pink $5/yard fabric (think backings), and I also found a navy solid for the binding for this quilt in that same section.  Love that! I stitched the binding down by machine this time.  I'm still not that good at it; even though I glued it down on the back à la Sharon Schamber, I had to go back and fix about six spots.

Here it is all laundered and cuddly!

Don't worry; I kicked off the spider web before tossing it over the viburnum hedge
The back:

Folded up:

The signature secret in pretty much every quilt I make:
Can you see his initials?  There's a B easily visible on the right in a light green square. The J is more difficult to see, but it, too is on a light green square, but on the left.

Quilt Stats:
Size:  46.5" square (it shrunk 2" between quilting and washing, and that is even after I pre-shrunk the flannel, voice of experience here)
Pattern:  September Scrap-a-Palooza 16-patch quilt
Fabric: scraps from my stash; backing is a Henry Glass flannel; binding an unknown cotton solid
Threads: Sulky Blendables 30 wt; Madeira Polyneon 40 wt; Aurifil 50 wt

Another shot of it spread out; hmm, the front grass is a lot drier than the back!

I am linking up with TGIFF this week hosted by From Bolt to Beauty, such a cool name for a blog!  And also with Confessions of A Fabric Addict, and with Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish It Up Friday, the first time for this linkup for me. And, last but not least, I am linking this finish up with Cynthia, since it is her pattern for her new linky party, Oh Scrap! at Quilting is More Fun Than Housework.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A Little Wednesday Humour

Warning!  Animal nudity pic below!

Here is the progress thus far on the Dell and June quilt, since I am linking up with WIP Wednesday and Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts:

Stabilized by ditch-stitching with grey Aurifil around each 16-patch; now working on cross-hatching
I've done all that with more of that Sulky Blendables, 30 wt, in the variegated blue.  Love this thread. Next to be used is a Madeira rayon 40 wt in green.

The back:
This flannel is SO soft and cuddly, but I'm a bit ticked because there is a flaw in the fabric.  Quilt shop quality... Um ya. Luckily it is near the bottom and barely noticeable on the back. I saw it when I had taped it down to the floor to layer and spray baste it.

So.  I've been contemplating changing the name of my blog to a more quilty-sounding name, and I actually have come up with a pretty good one, one that would give a nod to my menopausal melon issues (read, lack of mind, borderline sheer lunacy at times, sigh) yet acknowledge that I do have some pretty deep philosophical ponderings I like to share from time to time, while clearly labelling this blog as mainly about quilting.  It's pretty good, I think.  And I will probably rename it.  Not today...
Remainder of morning coffee set beside machine. Move quilt out of the way so I can read my book for a few minutes while I finish my coffee. A few minutes later, move the quilt, eww, it's wet on the corner...
Uh what???  The quilt corner must have dipped into my coffee cup, which was only about half full anyhow, thank goodness.  The coffee only soaked into a corner of the backing and some of the batting and did not reach the front corner square.  So I rinsed it, berated myself for my stupidity in thinking I could drink coffee by my machine and my quilts, and started on with the quilting.  Down to the last or so mouthful of coffee shortly thereafter--EGAD!! WHAT THE H-- is that in my coffee? A spider? Ready to barf...oh no, it's a small gob of cotton fibers from the flannel backing!!!  EEEWWWW!!
So you see, next year, maybe, I will rename my blog, because lunacy is still my companion, and not always caused by my lack of fully-functioning brain cells!  Read on.

Well, I was trying.  To read, that is, the other day.  (Gosh I love it when I just happen to segue like that.) Currently, I am reading Written in My Own Heart's Blood by Diana Gabaldon.  It's the latest tome in the Outlander Series, a series I have loved for a lo-o-o-ng time.  Parts of this book are annoying me, a little too cliché perhaps at times?  Overall, still worth every word of the 814 pages, of which I have read 520.  I should be farther along, but quilting gets in the way, or is it reading gets in the way of quilting?  Regardless, between these two activities, yoga, and dog activities, (get ready for another cliché) I don't know how I had time to work!  And raise two kids!  The other day, I took a break from Scraps of Calm to sit down on the floor in my sewing room, cross-legged, of course, and read for a little while. (see the combination? in the sewing room, reading, lotus...)  Rocco was in his favourite place lying down, chin resting on the window sill (yep, they're that low) gazing outside.  He got up, shook, and came over to lie down close to me...rather close...think he was aiming to get his butt completely ON my book, cat-style! That's my leg you see at the bottom right.  No modesty in Rocco's world, and no fur to hide anything from belly on down to back end anyhow!!


Bella also finds interesting ways, not nearly so shameless as Rocco's, to get my attention:
This lasted all of a few minutes, but she was instantly settled and purring until I rudely moved the quilt!
Hopefully, I will have this quilt done by tomorrow!  Can't wait to get the next project from my head to reality!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Scraps of Calm - Finish!

Doing the happy dance here because I have my first finish of 2015. I love love it!  It is also my goal for January for ALYOF over at Sew Bittersweet Designs.

Sorry for some of the inside pics (they are under my Ott-Lite), but by the time I washed it and dried it 10 minutes in the dryer, then laid it flat, there was no daylight left.  Got some pre-wash shots outside in the back yard however.  Interesting to note the difference in colour in different lighting! I will add a few more tomorrow.


This is one of Cynthia's fabulous Scrap-a-Palooza patterns from Quilting is More Fun Than Housework.  I am so happy with how it turned out, and amazed that it took nothing but scraps that I already had, down to the Frankenbatting!  However, the backing and binding are purchased, both from Jo-Ann Fabrics.  As I mentioned in a previous post about this quilt, Cynthia had sent me a picture of the yoga frog fabric, thinking I'd like it, because of my love of yoga.  She was right.  I had no idea where/when the 2 yards I bought would grow into a quilt, but little did I know it was within a couple of weeks of purchasing said fabric!


I did a "jigsaw puzzle" meander with the odd swirl or loop in the blue squares sections.  I went to town with quilting on the zigzag sections, first sectioning them off with my walking foot, and then filling the section with loopy designs ranging from circles to figure eights to weaving back and forth.


I've only ever seen the weaving back and forth design done perpendicular to the straight stitching line.  I have a picture in my iPad, from where I do NOT have a clue, maybe a quilt show(??) where someone did this weaving design on the 45, and I loved the look of it.

In each of the lone deepest green zigs, I did something a little different from the rest of the quilt.
The top corner has a Plume Feather design of Angela Walters.

In the bottom one I wrote "om" leading into a feather design
I usually like a dark binding, but when I saw this chevron print, I thought it might just be the ticket.  And it was.  I cut it on the length of grain, though, to get the chevrons the way I wanted them, so I had to mitre, uh, 12 18" strips in order to get the length I needed! I glued it down again, and used the ladder stitch; man I love Sharon Schamber's method. Thank you Judy!

After washing, a little more crinkly but not overly so, just perfect!
Another close-up of the adorable frogs, and the very wise sayings:

And one last interesting angle! Yummy, run-my-fingers-over-it texture!

Monday morning pics update!
Well it seemed to show the texture much better in person...

This gives a better idea

Maybe this shows it...it's just better in person I guess!

Quilt Stats:
Size: 46 3/4" X 54 3/4"  (6X7 blocks)
Pattern: May Zig Zag Quilt from Scrap-a-Palooza
Fabrics:  scraps from my stash, 416 blue 2.5" squares and various amounts of 3 greens
Backing and Binding: from Jo-Ann Fabrics
Threads: Isacord 40 wt in two shades of green & Sulky Blendables 30 wt variegated blues
Quilted on my Bernina Artista 180

I am linking up with Quilting is More fun Than Housework for Oh Scrap!


Thursday, January 15, 2015

"that happy in the heaven of earth"

I got a book of poems by Mary Oliver out of our library a couple of days ago.  I love Mary Oliver.  With age, I think, comes a real affinity with, a real understanding of poetry.  Every word counts, painting a panorama in your mind.  I first heard of Mary Oliver from "The Road Home", an excellent 1-hour program on CKUA, a listener-sponsored radio station in Alberta. You can stream it, and you won't be sorry.  A more diverse mix of music on a public radio station just does not exist out there.  But I digress a little.

Here is Mary Oliver's poem, which I read this morning, entitled "Luke".

I had a dog
  who loved flowers.
    Briskly she went 
      through the fields,

yet paused
  for the honeysuckle
    or the rose,
      her dark head

and her wet nose
  touching
    the face
      of every one

with its petals
  of silk,
    with its fragrance
      rising

into the air
  where the bees,
    their bodies
      heavy with pollen,

hovered---
  and easily
    she adored
      every blossom,

not in the serious,
  careful way
    that we choose
      this blossom or that blossom---

the way we praise or don't praise---
  the way we love
    or don't love---
      but the way

we long to be---
  that happy
    in the heaven of earth---
      that wild, that loving.

I feel this way towards quilts!  I could figuratively (and literally too, let's be honest) dive into them, head first, loving them all without judgement, without comparison.  Each one holds its own beauty; each one has been made with love, has been finished with wonder and pride and satisfaction.  Even the old 6" red and black squares wool quilt that was tied and made by my grandmother is worthy of wild love.  How I wish it was still around...the weight of it--!!  I recall many a time seeing my Uncle Bob taking a much-deserved nap on the couch under it...up with the sun, in the fields, "choring" cows, never-ending, back-breaking work.


Scraps of Calm has all her stitch in the ditch stabilizing done with Gutermann thread, her meandering done with Sulky Blendables in blue/teal/violet variegated, and some more intricate quilting started in the zigzags with Isacord.  I had to make a pitstop after yoga and dogwalking/lunch with John and Brandy today though, to buy a deeper shade of green thread for the mottled fabric.  I love the way the Isacord is stitching up!  I love the way this quilt is coming together!  Last night on FaceTime, Brady said, "Nana, know what you should knit on there?   Your name!"  He loves that I quilted his name on his I Spy quilt very prominently, outlining it with pebbling.  I also quilted it into the meandering on that quilt as well as on his Christmas quilt--our secret, so we always know they are HIS quilts, is what I told him.  What a profound and appreciative child to think of ensuring that I do that on my own quilt.  He also asked if I was going to sleep under it last night.  Incredible boy.  He's 6.

We also had to make a second pitstop at Alma Sue's, my, well, one of my LQS's!  Deep in the Amish area of Sarasota, I love going in there, see the ladies handquilting around the frame, hear the Dutch (I think) being spoken.  I was on the hunt for some flannel for the backing for Uncle Bob's quilt.  Talk about being, to paraphrase Mary, "wildly happy" when I found THIS:


Uncle Bob is, always has been, and always will be a horse lover.  This is flannel.  It is masculine.  It is not juvenile. It is perfection.

What's with the pink and bluey-lavender fabrics?  Um ya.  They were $5/yard!  And they are in the Tula Pink City Sampler I'm making, as well as the one I made last winter, Over and Under.  I'm nearly out of scraps of the pink, and I'd never seen the blue, so 1/2 yard each for now just jumped onto the cutting table (ya, I might be going back! I'm thinking binding...backing maybe...she had a ton of each of these).

So, like Luke, I am bounding around with happiness and anticipation at finishing up Scraps of Calm, quilting Dell and June, and maybe sewing a few more of those 100 Tula Pink blocks!!

Confession:  I really am "that happy in the heaven of earth--that wild, that loving" of my life, and I feel so very blessed.  Thankful on Thursday.  Indeed.