Saturday, August 29, 2009

And a Gift from the FedEx Man!

I keep getting these lovely packages from strange men! Yum! Not the men, the contents of the packages. Here is the little treat I got this morning. One pinkish Kaffe Fassett, and 4 others that just caught my attention as I glanced through the sale fabric. Dramatic florals and paisleys always catch my eye. I think they will enhance the stash quite nicely.

I have had the time of my life these last two days! I promised myself that I would work only on the baby quilts and the 2 tops that needed only the borders added. And I have done a decent job of sticking to those self-imposed rules. One baby quilt is completely done, binding and all; the batik circles has its borders on and awaits a trip to the long-arm. The second baby quilt is in the quilting frame and has about 18 blocks quilted. The final quilt top - Erin's - is still waiting on its borders.

But yesterday afternoon, I just had to break my rule! I could hear the Kaffe Fassett Broken Dishes fabrics calling out to me, all the way from up in the sewing room! There they sat in a nice little box; they were cut and mated into pleasing pairs, and even marked on the diagonal for sewing and cutting purposes. When I did these things, I do not remember, but they were patiently waiting for me to get back to them. Well, once I broke down and dug it all out, I sewed "just a few" squares into hourglass blocks. Then 3 hours later, I had enough hourglass units to make 6 blocks! It was a delightful afternoon!

The pattern has small hourglass blocks in the center of the quilt, surrounded by larger hourglass blocks as a border. I am working on the small ones now. There are 16 units of 64 pieces in each block! Those are some small hourglasses, to be sure! It has been so much fun seeing them come together. I was chain piecing them, of course, as this makes quick work of such small pieces, but I found myself wanting to see how some particular fabrics looked together, so I often broke the chain to finish off a block and peek at it. It was like I was experiencing the thrill of Christmas morning, or something!

Here are some pics of the work I accomplished - about 3 hours yesterday, and 3 hours today.

These pieces are just laid out on a mat so far. I have not sewn them into the full block yet. Each individual hourglass unit shown in the photo on the right has approximately 4 more stacked underneath. The photo on the left shows just one block (not sewn; just laid out) and beside it is a pile of units waiting to be laid out. Mixing and matching all of these tiny pieces will be quite an undertaking. But it is one that I look forward to.
Now, I will, will, WILL get back to those other unfinished projects. The baby quilt is the most pressing, but I really want to finish Erin's quilt, too. Maybe I will report some progress on these two items in the coming week.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Gift from Mailman

Does your mailman make deliveries like this? Doesn't it look delicious? This was in my mailbox yesterday. I am always interested in adding to my Kaffe Fassett collection, and a quilting friend had just introduced me to some of his older polka dot and target prints. (My dear friends, the "Frienzies," made my retirement quilt out of Kaffe fabrics because of my recent love-affair with his material -the fabrics and the quilts. That will be another picture in another post.) In searching around on the internet, I found a site that had clearance-priced some of these older pieces, so I was prompted to take advantage. The out-of-place floral in the mix is an Alex Anderson print which I took a fancy to as I was "shopping." Online fabric shopping has become the norm for me, lately. I just haven't had the inclination to make it out to the actual shops. And, I do think I am getting pickier, in that I want fabrics that will enhance what I already own. Won't these fabrics look great in my stash? And even greater in a quilt?

Okay, now I already own more fabric than I will ever be able to use. Quilters know this reality, I am sure. This fact, however, does not stop said quilters from continuing to add to the stash. I wish I could explain this phenomenon. Perhaps it's inexplicable. Besides, who needs an explanation? We just "need" more fabric! This next statement will be shocking, so prepare...I truly am cutting way back on my fabric stash-building! Yes, it's true. Since I have retired, I plan to focus on the making of quilts, rather than on the accumulation of fabric. As a matter of fact, I will go one step further...

My goal for this first year of retirement is to see how many quilt tops I can make. It'll be sort of like a contest I will have with myself. I have an unlimited number of patterns to choose from what with all my magazines, books, and print-offs from the internet. I also have a more-than-ample stash of fabrics at my disposal to use on these quilts! Won't I have a great time making gorgeous quilts? I am very excited to get started.

What is stopping me from proceeding right now? I have one more baby quilt to finish hand-quilting. The completed one is shown here. The girls, my nieces, will be 2 in October, and I've set their birthday as my arbitrary deadline. A second UFO that I want to strike off the list is Erin's quilt - the one that just needs to have the borders added. Finish those, and I will, in earnest, get cracking on quilt-top creating!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Always Learning

The picture above features two quilts that have a romantic, floral, shabby chic look to them. The quilt on the bottom I hand-pieced about 6 years ago. To make it even more special, it was hand-quilted by my grandmother. The pattern is called "English Elegance," and was the cover of a 1999 BH&G American Patchwork and Quilting magazine. I made it entirely from my stash, with no special purchases except for the backing. The quilt folded on top is called "Tag Sale" by Carrie Nelson of Miss Rosie Quilts. I saw it on display at a nearby quilt shop, bought the pattern, and used a fat-pack I had on hand. I machine-pieced and hand-quilted it. Both quilts were long, drawn out projects, but I am so glad that I finished them. They reside in my guest room.
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It just seems natural that a retired teacher would be interested in learning. In thinking of all the the things I want to do in my retirement, learning stuff takes a major role. Learning to blog effectively is one of the items on my list of things to learn, and since my first post on Wednesday I have done quite a bit of self-directed study of the ins and outs of Blogspot. I am confident that I have the blogging part down; the daunting aspect of this is the photography. So, with the help of daughter Erin, an artist with the "eye" I lack, we have taken several dozen pictures and she has provided pointers for what she considers necessary for the most pleasing pictures. However, there are two schools of thought at play here: her desire for artistically placed quilts and my desire to see the whole quilt from a quiltmaker's standpoint. So, the pics we took today are all to Erin's liking, i.e. they are artistically pleasing. And while I like them, they do not offer the quilter a good full view of the quilts with borders. So there are still things to learn.

Here is an update on my quilting activity since the previous post. On Thursday, I did little more than dig out a project to take with me on Friday morning to my quilt group. It was fun digging through some long-forgotten UFOs, and I have a bit of renewed interest in finishing a few!

So Friday morning, off to quilt group. I took the "row-a-month" project (begun in 1998!), of which all that remains to be done is the applique row. I have decided that my method will be needle-turn applique, and in the 3 hours we worked, I got one bird done. (Note to self: take a picture of this progress to post here.)

Once back home, I pulled out the batik circle quilt. The top was finished except for the borders, for heaven's sake! So down to work! I finished up those borders and now have a lovely, cheery bright quilt top for a twin bed ready to take to my long-arm lady.

As the evening wore on, I wanted to watch a couple of shows with my daughter, so I set up the quilting frame and Ott Lite. I managed to finish 3 blocks on the baby quilt, bringing the total completed blocks to 18. My fingers are just so sore, it is hard to do more.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A New Beginning!

I have an old blog, but want to begin a new, improved one. This is my test/transition post. Working out the bugs, so bear with me...

The summer has come to a close, the school year starts tomorrow for Emma, and I begin my first day of being retired. Technically, I retired in May, but when you're a teacher, summer vacation doesn't really count as being retired. There's no going back to school for me this fall! I am embarking on a new adventure--one that opens up many possibilities! Each day I will get to decide what I want to do - finish a work in progress? begin a new project? read a book? have lunch with girlfriends? whatever needs to be done or whatever is "calling me" to be done--I now have the freedom to make the choice!

Brings a grin to my face just thinking of it! :-)

This has been a good day in a couple of ways. First, I managed to get a new blog started in time to chronicle the goings on in my newly retired world. Also, my dear friend Kay came out to take advantage of the monthly fabric sale at our local Ben Franklin store. She brought the Kaffe Fassett project she is working on; we ventured upstairs to my sewing room to look at my enormous KF stash; we shopped at BF (she bought fabric; I bought none!); and we went to the Greenfield Farmers' Market. And finally, Kay ran an errand for me by picking up my sewing machine from the cleaning & repair shop. I now have a newly serviced machine to use when do begin the next project!!

The stars have certainly aligned for me.

I continue to quilt away on the 2nd of the baby quilts. I put this one in the frame about 10 days ago, and currently have 15 blocks quilted. There are 48 blocks in the quilt, plus borders. I am working as much as my sore fingers will allow. My goal is to finish by the twins' 2nd birthday, October 11. I will attempt adding pictures of the finished baby quilt and the one in the frame in tomorrow's post.