Saturday, August 12, 2017

Working those Neutrals

It’s been another busy week here, but at least I was able to spend lots of time down in my studio, sewing my cares away. There was quite a variety of things to work on this week. My ADQD (Attention Deficit Quilting Disorder) was in overdrive, so I switched between sewing neutral string blocks, quilting the pineapple quilt, and sewing tulips and leaves. And mending clothes, sewing on buttons, etc. Life in the fast lane. Not.


But there is a method to my madness. The needle in my machine needed changing, so I figured that sewing on a paper base in order to do the 4.5” neutral string blocks would be better on the old needle. Therefore, for three days I cut, sewed and trimmed blocks. The result was 78 (of 168 needed) neutral string blocks.


There are plenty more strings and scraps and fabrics where these came from, and I will be working on them throughout the month.  Come visit us over at Angela’s blog for Scrappy Saturday. Lots of us are working through our neutral scraps this month!

Anyway, by Wednesday I put a new needle in the machine and switched to quilting the pineapple quilt, which I had basted on Monday. The first thing I did on the pineapple quilt was to stitch all the vertical seams in the ditch with my walking foot.


And then I began doing X quilting in the pineapples themselves. So much moving and shifting the quilt around (!) and my Bernina has an average-at-best harp space. My shoulders hurt after quilting five pineapples. So, I set myself a goal of quilting 5 pineapples a day. With 24 pineapples in the quilt, that will take 5 days. To date, I have completed 15; 9 left to go. I’m using a light, icy yellow on the front instead of white - not that you can really tell from this picture. The thread on the back is a variegated light green. When I finish the quilt next week, I’ll have pictures.

After quilting my quota of 5 pineapples a day, I figured it was a good time to start assembling tulips and leaves for the quilt that my friend Terri and I are making for our friend Diane.

I originally added the gold color in because there is gold in the small pink floral print that you see in almost every tulip. But I think the gold strips overpower the pastels and need to be taken out and substituted with another pastel (probably that aqua with pink strawberries). What do you think?


All the tulips will have a stem and leaves; that is the next step. And this is only half the tulips anyway; Terri is making the other half of them.


So now I am a stem-and-leaf-making fool, and hope to get those done this week in addition to finishing the pineapple quilt and making the rest of the neutral strip blocks.  The next project on the horizon is Bruce’s guitar quilt....

Finally, if you have a moment, why not stop by Lily Pad Quilting and the Pets on Quilts Show for 2017. Darla, my sweet quilting tabby, is entered in the Cats on Quilts category. You can visit the linky party HERE. Voting will open next week, and we hope you will consider voting for Darla, the Quilting Cat!

And now, it’s back to the sewing room for me...... unless Darla is using the machine! (wink)

Cathy maroon
Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Darla the Quilting Cat

Hi Friends! It’s me, Darla the Quilting Cat. Yep, it’s true; my mommy taught me this year. I even have pictures to show you in a moment. But first, I am so thrilled to be joining the Pets on Quilts parade for 2017! We always have fun visiting other animal friends online, and I especially want to thank Snoodles, Padsworth and DragonDrop at Lily Pad Quilting for hosting the fun!!



So, let me introduce my furry self.

My name is Darla (“The Girl with the Polka Dot Tummy"), and I am a 4-year old tabby. I live with my mom and dad and my litter brother Alfalfa. Alfie is an orange tabby. He didn't want to be in the show this year because he's been spending much of his time on Neighborhood Watch duties at the windows, keeping an eye on the birds and other critters that visit. It is an impurrtant job too.

By the way, I have the softest furs EVER invented! Silky smooth, I am. I can’t help it!  All the better to leave them behind on the quilts I get to test. Besides being a sewing cat, I also lay on quilts to hold them down (we don’t want them to fly away, you know) and test them for snuggle-ability. It’s my favorite part of the whole quilting process.




Now I would love to show you my sewing lessons to purr-oove my quilting abilities.

First, here I am watching while Mom explained how to use a rotary cutter. She helped me cut squares out for a quilt. Because I don’t have opposable thumbs, she used the rotary cutter while I held the fabric down or held the ruler. Or both. I`m good like that....


Then I learned to thread the machine. Can I tell you how much I love playing with thread?? I like Mommy’s machine. I think it’s a Purr-nina.


Here I am guiding the fabric through the machine, being careful to catch WATCH that quarter-inch seam.


Sewing is hard work, and as quilters we all must remember to take frequent breaks to relax and stretch our muscles. Here I demonstrate my PROVEN technique. Mommy wonders exactly what it is I’m trying to prove, but sometimes she’s no fun! 


And the finished result!  How can you argue with success?!


When the voting begins in a few days, I hope you will come back and vote for me! I can’t promise, but I might even sew a quilt for you!

xo,
DARLA





Friday, August 4, 2017

Searching for the Neutral Zone

The last week has been fun and busy as we have settled into having my brother Steve come live with us. Unloading, rearranging, cleaning out...... Plus two days this week were also spent tending granddaughters, which was seriously fun but a detriment to my productivity. But we only live once, right?

On Sunday and Monday, I was able to finish up the pineapple quilt top. It will be basted this weekend, after I clean the hardwood floors.


On Tuesday, granddaughter Lauren (age 13) spent the day with me. She is such a mature, delightful young girl. We mostly spent our time painting a carved wooden cockatoo (an old salvage rescue my brother brought me for the patio). We painted it in bright colors, like a parrot, then sealed it. It turned out great, but I have no picture yet.

Then on Thursday, one of Bruce’s days off, we (along with my brother) took all the kennel quilts to Best Friends Animal Shelter up in Salt Lake. One of the dogs wanted to adopt my brother, and one of the kittens wanted to adopt my dear husband. I had to put both feet down. We all walked out with misty eyes. And that is why I sew kennel quilts instead of volunteering my time, and also why I will take the quilts in by myself in the future.

After finishing the pineapple quilt top, the only other sewing-related thing I did was to pull my light neutrals. I can’t wait to work with them. I am in serious need of zen sewing time! So, even with this meager contribution, I am linking to Scrappy Saturday for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.


Since neutrals won’t work for my regular RSC blocks, I have another plan. One of the quilts I have wanted to start for awhile is Bonnie Hunter’s Jamestown Landing. The link will take you to one of her posts from 2015 where you can see the quilt made of blues and varied light neutrals. I may use both blues and greens for the colored portions, but for this month I plan to move full steam ahead on all the neutral strippy blocks.

Yesterday (Friday), granddaughter London came over, as well Cousin Kim’s two granddaughters Zoe and Trini for their final summer play date before school starts in 2 weeks. The “twins” London and Zoe were crazy girls all day. Our poor cats Darla and Alfie will probably need therapy!

In the morning we took the girls to Michael’s to buy craft supplies: Play Doh, foam crowns to decorate, wooden face masks (kittens) to decorate, scepters/batons, and more. They decorated their crowns and masks before lunch. After lunch, Trini (who is 12) watched the younger girls swim and play in their kiddie pools and break occasionally to play with Play Doh out on the patio. For three hours, they were busy outdoors. Kim and I got to relax and read indoors. We finished the day with my son Shane and Bruce joining us after work; pizza for all 8 of us.

Today, I recover and clean house. The pineapple quilt will be basted sometime this weekend, and then I can Sew Like The Wind next week.

Cathy maroon
Friday, July 28, 2017

When the Going Gets Tough

This is a week that I am happy to say (in the parlance of someone who has spent too much time on the road the last couple days) is in the rear view mirror. I am not sure that after traveling through Lake Havasu, AZ and Las Effing* Vegas, I will ever be cool - as in temperature - again. Of course, I`m otherwise cool; just ask my grandkids.
*Effing: in this case means F-ing or FRUSTRATING. Get your mind out of the gutter. 

It was a safe trip. It was a purposeful and successful trip. It was an effing (see above) HOT trip. More about that toward the end of this post.

But first, let’s talk about one of my favorite (and yours too, I bet) subjects; quilting and sewing and the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. I`m linking up to Angela`s Scrappy Saturday gathering, where lots of us “cool” people are showing off our blue scrap fabric projects.

In July, I got a lot of blue blocks sewn for my Rainbow Scrap projects. In the collage below:

Top: (3) Bookshelf quilt blocks, (16) 6.5” Plus blocks and (16) 4.5” Bowties
Bottom: (2) Geese Migration Blocks, (42) 6.5” Friendship Star blocks and (8) 8.5” strings blocks. I actually had two string blocks from last year, but I did sew 2 more after this picture was taken, so I have ten total, 8 of which were sewn this month.


And then there was a selvage and fabric column, folded back upon itself to fit into a reasonable picture.


And 2 slabs of scraps that will eventually go into the making of kennel quilts.


That, brings my July Blue Blocks total to exactly 90. Whew. And then, I was able to finish my 24 pineapple blocks for the pineapple quilt. Currently they're on the design board in no particular setting. They're just having a Kumbaya moment together before being sashed and sewn together permanently. I hope to work on that in the coming week.


And, naturally, I am waiting anxiously for Angela to announce the color of the month for August. As I recall from the discussions at the beginning of the year, we still have pink, light neutrals (whites, creams, low volumes), orange, and dark neutrals (black, brown, gray) left. I`m down with any of them, but am secretly pulling for one in particular. LOL.

****************
On Wednesday I flew to Lake Havasu, AZ where my brother Steve lives/lived. We went out to lunch, then he took care of his final business there in town while I read and napped. I do that so well. It is absolutely sweltering this time of the year in Arizona and Nevada. In the evening, he said goodbye to all his friends and we prepped for an early morning departure. Steve drove the U-Haul with a trailer attached. On the trailer was his 1930 Ford that he has been converting to an old-time custom hot rod for the last 10+ years. It’s a labor of love named “Hellion” which was a nickname for our deceased mom Helen. I drove his Toyota truck with camper shell.

Rim and sidewalls ...
We left about 7 am in the morning, and at 9:30 a.m. or so, out in the desert about 9 miles south of Henderson, Nevada (a suburb of Las Effing Vegas), a tire on the trailer blew. Spectacularly. I flashed my lights, our prearranged signal, and we pulled over. He hadn’t even known the tire was gone. But it’s a good thing we didn’t try to keep going; much of what was left of the tire was wrapped around the rear axle and brake line. You can see part of it in the shadow in the lower left of the picture.

Anyway, we called U-Haul, who called a local contracted tire dealer, and they were out to fix the tire lickety-split. If you call TWO HOURS in the heat (ranging from 93-99 degrees over the 2 hours) lickety-split. To be fair, U-Haul had to filter the claim down from a national number to the local dealers to the appropriate contractor, who was in North Las Vegas, a 40 minute drive away. And they did keep in contact by phone every 15 minutes or so to see how we were doing and keep us updated. The guy who came out (Hector, a god in our books who was nicely tipped) had it fixed in 15 minutes and had brought us four icy cold, refreshing bottles of water. Yes, we had water packed along (packed being the operative word) and a bottle each up front in our cabs. But it is hard not to drink a lot when you are sweating buckets.


So, after that there wasn’t even a hint of a problem. We did the speed limit, stopped about 3 times for gas and potty breaks or to grab and split a sandwich. By 8:00 in the evening we were home, with almost an hour of light left to unload the hot rod and Steve’s overnight essentials. On the left is a picture of my view of the truck and trailer with the hot-rod on it, taken through the windshield (sorry if there are smashed bugs on the windshield, hehe).

On Friday we returned the trailer so he could begin unloading the van, and we are more than halfway done - arranging things in our storage sheds, etc - as we go. I`m getting rid of an old antique washstand that I had in one of our guest bedrooms - I think cousin Kim is taking it because our kids didn’t want it. In its place is an antique (forties-era, lovely but not noteworthy) desk that belonged to our grandfather, then our mother in turn. When the desk is properly oiled and ready to begin its new useful life, Grandpa`s old red and white paperweight - the one that started my collection - will return to pride of place on its desk.

***********
Finally, to end this post in another recap, I promised I would only give periodic updates on my progress on Weight Watchers, and I have chosen the end of the month to do that. As of last Tuesday (which marked my 5th full week on the plan), I have lost 8.6 pounds. Again, my goal is to change my lifestyle by eating healthier and moving more. There is no competition or race involved. So, I consider it a successful July. And a hot one that I don`t wish to repeat!
Cathy maroon
Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A Finish and Pineapple Progress

The weather today (Tuesday) is delightful - it just finally reached 80 degrees F. It began raining last night and rained through the night and early morning, cooling things down. Being a mountain valley, the Salt Lake Valley is a dry climate, so the cool is very refreshing, not sauna-like.

Over the weekend I finished the denim and flannel quilt(s) from my 3rd Quarter Finish-Along goals. Originally I thought I’d make a picnic quilt, but I wasn’t loving that idea. I just wanted it GONE. One of my friends (thanks, MaryAnne!) suggested making kennel quilts out of them, and that is exactly what I did. Either way, it’s DONE.


This is before they were washed. Upon washing, the edges fray, making it nice and soft. There are 8 of them, and they measure about 13x20” (each) or so. This was #9 on my FAL list, which you can see HERE.

Now I can take these 8 quilts, along with the 12 quilts and 2 pillows from last month, to the Best Friends Animal Shelter (a no-kill facility). YAY!

Tomorrow I fly to Lake Havasu, AZ to meet up with my brother and help him finish loading his U-Haul truck. Then on Thursday we will drive back to Utah. I am driving his truck with camper shell and he is driving the U-Haul with a trailer (carrying his hot rod). The driving time is about 8 hours, but I am not sure if we will average the speed limit. Plus, there will be bathroom, food and gas breaks. Cross your fingers that there are no vehicle breakdowns! I don’t like driving through desert (AZ - Las Vegas - Southern Utah) in July. With a little luck, and if we can leave by 7 am or so, we could be home in the Salt Lake Valley by 6pm - with enough time to unload some stuff. I. Am. Not. Looking. Forward. To. This. Trip.  But needs must..... At least Bruce will have dinner waiting for us, LOL!!

Also, I’ve finished all 24 of the pineapple blocks, and here they are on my design board.


This is NOT their layout. There will be 2” (finished) sashing between columns and blocks. The setting will be six pineapples across and four down, staggered. I’ve got all the sashing cut, but won’t start the top assembly until the weekend, most likely. I have that green pineapple bedsheet for a backing, but have not yet auditioned any bindings. All in good time.
Cathy maroon
Friday, July 21, 2017

My Friendship Stars

You may not know it, but the blog title has a double meaning. Friendship Stars (a variation block) are one of the selected blocks I’ve been making throughout the year as we move from color to color every month for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.  My FAVORITE friendship stars this week are two little girls, as you’ll see momentarily.

First, let’s talk about the stars I sewed. All 42 of them. All these blue FS’s bring me up to a total of 122 blocks. I will need a (revised) total of 136 for the quilt I’m planning, which has been downsized. I will make at least a dozen each of pink and orange as their months come along, so I will have wiggle room to edit blocks that aren’t really doing it for me. Like maybe those wildly-printed stars with leftover banjo fabric.


And yet, they may not be the butt-ugliest. We will have to wait and see.....  These blocks finish at 6” each.  I have to send a big cyber hug and many thanks to Cathy at Sane, Crazy Crumby Quilting for suggesting that using the EZ angle ruler might be a better and faster way to make my HSTs. She was right, of course, and it's thanks to her that I got all these done. Some of those damn banjo HSTs, which were trimming leftovers, have been sitting around for 2 years since I made THIS quilt for DH.

Linking up to Angela’s Scrappy Saturday for our weekly Rainbow Scrap Challenge party. Stop by and see all the creativity in blue!

Anyway, with the remaining banjo HST’s, I made these 4 blocks:


I may sew them together in one giant block, or use them individually. Either way, they will become parts for kennel quilts, because if I never see this fabric again, it will be too soon.

As diversionary sewing from all the blue and banjos, I worked on my pineapples. I really love the green chevron fabric (what I had left of it) in the pineapple crowns....


I need a total of 24 pineapples, so these will continue to provide sewing refreshment, just like the real thing.

And as for my favorite Friendship Stars? These two seven-and-a-half-year-olds:

Left: Zoe   Right: London
Cousin Kim and her granddaughter Zoe came over Friday to play with me and my granddaughter London. In the morning we went to Wheeler Farm, a local working historic farm where I worked for 4 years. (See all my many posts under the keywords Wheeler Farm). We took wagon rides, visited the animals, saw a blacksmith demonstration, the girls got to brush down a cow (it wasn’t milking time), and played on the playground. We walked all over, and I got to visit with several of my former co-workers.

Kim and I noticed how similar our girls’ skin coloring was (olive), as well as their brown hair (long, with golden highlights, both with braids at that point), light blue-gray eyes, and long skinny legs. We decided they could be sisters. That delighted them to no end (they were holding hands within five minutes of meeting each other - oh to be seven again!). Naturally, then then decided they were TWINS.

We got back to my house at noonish, had lunch (picnic on the patio), then they alternated doing art projects indoors and swimming in the kiddie pools outdoors. Kim and I sat with them outside, in the shade of the apricot tree, with our feet in the pool. It was such a wonderful, relaxing day. We got NO sewing done and I didn’t get my hair cut - we were too sweaty, tired and lazy after the farm excursion. We did chat, drink iced coffee, and laughed with the girls. Kim took some great pix of the girls at the farm, and I hope she sends them to me so I can share one or two. I only got this one above, late in the day....

We are going to do this again in a couple weeks. I think it will probably take that long for Kim and I to recover.....

Cathy maroon
Friday, July 14, 2017

Forever in Blue, Jean!

Even though my birthstone is an aquamarine, blue has never been one of my favorite colors..... until a year or two ago. Nowadays, almost half my clothes are blue, I find it easier finding (and collecting) cute blue fabrics, and I sure as heck am enjoying sewing with blue this month!

This week, I started with two Geese Migration blocks, a pattern by Cynthia Brunz. I’m a big fan of hers. The Geese Migration quilt takes 25 blocks, and with these 2 I only have 12 completed. Looks like this will be an ongoing project - just workin’ it until I have enough...


Next, I threw together 16 bowtie blocks. Each one is only 4.5” (unfinished). At this small size, it is definitely a multi-year project; I am about halfway on these, too.


And then I did 16 Plus blocks, each one will finish at 6”.  Now, depending on how I want to finish these - and I have some ideas finally - this project WILL finish this year. Yay!  I already have 85 of the approximate 104 blocks I need, with orange and pink and darks (black, brown, gray) still to go.


So I thought I’d play with them on the design board. Seeing them like this, I can tell there are several that will not make the cut. I don’t like some of those purple ones for sure, and a red or two are iffy. So, I will just sew along on my merry way through the remaining colors and pick my favorites for the quilt. The rest can go on the back or into kennel quilts.


This week was our wedding anniversary - #14 for Bruce and me. We always forget it (how’s THAT for an old married couple?). This time, I did remember about noonish, when a friend of mine texted a Happy Anniversary message. LOL, thanks Terri! And then I reminded Bruce when he got home from work, and we laughed and laughed. On our first anniversary, we were lying in bed talking before falling asleep and realized our anniversary was getting close. Neither one of us could remember the exact day, so I had to run downstairs and check out a copy of our marriage license! I jumped back into bed and yelled “Happy Anniversary!”. You can see what romantics we are. Truly, every day is such happiness for us both after previous marriage experiences. And that’s all we need to say about that.

I did work on one of my Finish-Along projects. These three blocks are remnants of an old quilt from my ex-hub’s side of the family. They’re probably about 70-80 years old. I squared them up and bound them, adding little hanging corners on the backsides. They are about 14” square. I am not considering them done until I write up and print off (on a fabric label that I can sew to the back) the information and story about the original quilt. When that part is done, I will call them finished and will then do a full blog post.


I’ve been working on sewing yellow pineapple blocks and also my Friendship Star Variation blocks. I have more than a dozen of those done, but plenty to go. I`ll save them for next week.

Today (Friday) I went to the zoo with Cousin Kim and her two granddaughters, so I didn’t get any sewing in. We had a lot of fun, even though it was hot. And certainly all the walking is a good thing. Next Friday they are coming to hang out here, and my granddaughter London will also be here. The girls will have fun playing together. We plan to take them to Wheeler Farm (where I used to work) in the morning. We’ll also set up the large kiddie pool and let them “swim” and play outdoors or wherever. Kim and I will read, sew, (napping is probably out of the question), and Kim’s giving me a haircut. Hot fun in the summertime.....

Linking up to Rainbow Scrap Challenge Scrappy Saturday at Angela’s Blog.

Cathy maroon