Saturday, December 31, 2016

Final Finish for 2016

Mid-afternoon yesterday, I finished binding Erin's Diamonds. Whoo-hoo! I thought I'd be all celebratory and cheering and dancing and carrying on. But, I actually felt sort of lost! It was the way I feel when I finish a really amazing book, and then wonder what in the world I will do now that it's over.


Let's look at some pics. I took lots. *smile*

The quilt is from the Kaffe Fassett book called Kaleidoscope of Quilts (2006). Erin picked it out in February of 2013, and I made the quilt top that year. Then for all of 2014 and 2015, it hung in my closet. Did you know that quilts never get finished if you never work on them? It's true! So the hand-quilting began in October. To quilt this 108x93-inch quilt in 3 months is speedy for me. Once upon a time, this would have been incomprehensible.

I have written about this quilt frequently and have always referred to it as Erin's Diamonds, even though the original quilt is called Hot Diamonds.
Click here to see my first post, when Erin selected the fabrics from the stash.
Click here to see me trying to figure out his very brief directions.
Click here to see a post about sewing the quilt top.
Click here to see it on the antique quilting frame.
For more posts, just enter Erin's Diamonds into the search box located in the sidebar.

And this concludes my posting for 2016. Number 250 for the year. We will be hosting our friends the Schmidts and Everharts tonight. Reveling is set to begin at 8 or so. We have a big football game to watch, too - GO BUCKEYES!! BEAT CLEMSON!!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Year's Wrap-Up

Tying up loose ends. That is what I will cover in this post. Taking stock of what I've accomplished this calendar year, the things I finished as well as the things I left unfinished gives the end of the year closure - tidied up and put neatly away.

Cheryl at Meadow Mist Designs is hosting a link-up for bloggers to post their year-end roundup. I will spend some time Sunday perusing what other quilters have accomplished through this year.

My Top Five Quilting Accomplishments for 2016

1. Hand-Quilting Two Quilts
     Yes, it seems impossible to me that I did it, but I hand quilted most of the Scrappy 6-Pointed Star (some of it was started last year) and all of Erin's Diamonds. I just finished it today and I will devote tomorrow's blog post to that quilt. Hand quilting is not something to enter into lightly. The time required to finish a full-size quilt is enormous. When the job is complete, I find myself a bit lost, wondering what on earth I will do now to fill my time. It's quite a strange feeling.

 2. Making Elisa's Quilt
      I had 4 commissions total this year, and I am pleased with how all turned out. Elisa's, though, was quite the undertaking. I agreed in March to make a king-size quilt, without a pattern, based on a picture found on Pinterest, using a sheet as the backing and machine quilt it myself. All in about 6 months. In hindsight, I wonder what on earth I was thinking. But you know, probably 4 of those 6 months, I spent on work being done in my head! I had so much to figure out. Knowing that Elisa loves it makes it all worth it; I am pretty proud that I did it.

3. Having More Blog Posts This Year
     I don't know if anyone besides me pays attention to this sort of thing, but I had my personal best in the number of posts I wrote this year. The previous record was 2012's total of 246. This year I will have 250. (The next one is written and scheduled for tomorrow, the last day of 2016.) I feel like I am getting better at writing. I agonize over some posts while others are effortless. I do like to be reliable with no more than a couple of days between posts. In a perfect scenario, I'd do one every day, but I feel like I busted my buns to get 250 done. That might be a good max for me to shoot for next year.

4. Getting Quilts Quilted; Out of the Closet
      My goal for the year was to send 12 quilts out for long-arm quilting - one per month. Well, I fell short of that goal, but I did send out 3, in addition to 3 commissions and a wedding quilt. (A second wedding quilt will be coming back in January.) Then add in the ones I quilted myself, both on the machine and by hand; all in all, I feel pretty good about this accomplishment. Each finish is pictured in the "2016 Quilts" tab at the top of this blog. Getting a quilt quilted is not a cheap proposition, even when your quilter is as reasonably priced at mine is. (Thank you, Terry!) One per month was always a target to aim for, but every quilter knows that new things come along moving something down on the list of priorities.  As it turns out, I probably got done all that I could given that Terry had terrible troubles with her quilting machine for most of the summer. Even though I fell way short of the one per month goal, I am more than satisfied with my results.

5. Improving the Organization of My Sewing Room
     One thing leads to another, don't you know, and when we decided that we'd paint the downstairs and turn the computer room (which had become a messy catch-all) into a formal dining room, we had a very large Ikea table to move out. It has become my cutting table, but the reorganization required in order to get it in here was massive. Now that it's done, I find that I am making an effort to keep things where they belong and not let the mess get out of hand like it was before. This is a really fun room to work in now, and I want it to stay that way.

There you have it - my top 5 accomplishments for this year. Click on over to Meadow Mist and the link-up. I bet we'll all find inspiration there!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Planning for 2017

Isn't it exciting to think of starting fresh, beginning a new year with so many plans for mountains of wonderful creations? It certainly excites me!

I've been thinking about 2017 for several week, as evidenced by a post I wrote back in November when I was making some lists. That was more just to get myself organized, but it still helped me focus on what I think I might want to do in the new year.

Sharon and I have agreed to begin January making our own versions of a Carrie Nelson quilt called Elizabeth from the book Spice of Life Quilts (2010). We each have fat quarter collections of older fabric lines that we want to use, and sewing something together keeps us focused and accountable. I am looking forward to it.

Two baby quilts will be forthcoming, as two babies are due soon - one in January and one in March. I was fibbing when I said that this Buckeye quilt was for a baby - all along it was for my mother; not a baby quilt at all!! (Christmas fibs aren't penalized, right??) But that baby boy will be making his appearance next month, so I do need to get busy with what remains of my Ohio State fabrics and get something stitched up for him.

His cousin will be born in March - yes, our friends Judy and Harold will be adding two grandbabies in 2017! How exciting is that?? So, this baby boy will get a quilt, too, but I don't have a plan determined yet for him.

Those are the for-sure things I am making in the new year. Other things I hope to accomplish - and I have no preferred order for these - include the following:

*Any Thimbleberries quilt for a quilt-along we will do at our Canter's Cave Retreat in April.

*A Kaffe Fassett version of Trip Around the World

*Lunch Box Social - A Kim Diehl quilt that my friend Terry has made (photo below); I have quilt envy for this!

*Swoon - I have had a Swoon quilt on my list for at least 3 years; this is the year I'm doing it! I bought the PDF a long time ago, and just need to decide my colors - I know I don't want a scrappy Swoon; I think I'm hoping of something subtle.

*Blue and Green Churn Dash - more quilt envy here - several years ago, quilting friend Sheryll made the most adorable quilt using neutral with navy and poison green. I was so enamored with it that I selected my fabrics very soon after that. And that's as far as I got. I plan to make this a priority this year. The size of mine will be determined by how much fabric I have. *wink*

*UFO List - Heavy duty work will be necessary to whittle down this list - the Frankfort Girls are joining forces again this year to tackle our UFOs, and the first one up for me is to finish my 19th-Century Reds quilt. I will bring details of that in an upcoming post. I've done a lot of the stitching already, so it should be an easy one to finish up. (Hear that optimism??)

*Wall-hanging for DD Emma - a request has been made for something to adorn the wall above the television in their small apartment. About all I can say for sure about this is that it will likely be modern.

I will very likely add more to this list; I have ideas - oh, do I have ideas! - so who knows what is in store for 2017?!? 

A link-up has been created for quilters to share their plans and goals for the new year. I will be joining in; click the icon below to have a look-see.

2017 Planning Party

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Reveal: The Christmas Commission

I was asked several months ago by good friend Devin to take his daughter's t-shirts and make a quilt with them. Now I've made a lot of t-shirt quilts, and this one would be just another of the same - except that it wouldn't be the same. You see, his daughter is Alexis, my former student who died of cancer in February of 2013. Sharon and I made a flannel quilt for her during her illness, which you can read about here.

And just this year, that flannel quilt needed some mending as Heather, Devin's wife and Alexis's mother, had been using it since Alexis's passing. What was meant to provide comfort to Alexis during her cancer treatments has ended up providing comfort to Heather in the wake of her daughter's death.

One of the blocks; my personal favorite; her sweet smile.
So this wasn't just any t-shirt quilt. No, indeed. Over the course of a 30-year teaching career, a handful of students stand out for one reason or another. Probably because she was such an avid reader, Alexis and I just clicked. And our friendship lasted beyond her freshman year when I had her in my class; we remained close afterwards as she was a moving force for a little literary club we formed.

Alexis was quite active in high school and had such a varied support group through her illness, that t-shirts were plentiful. I ended up making a quilt with 25 blocks - a genuine whopper, I tell you. I reduced the width of the sashing strips to keep the size manageable, and used smaller borders, too, but it still ended up ginormous.

Heather with her beaming smile displays her new quilt.
A high school t-shirt - '08 Homecoming.
And now that both Devin and Heather (did I mention that they were both my students, too, back in the '80s?) have opened the Christmas gift, I have been given the all-clear to share it here. Devin requested the quilt as a gift he planned to give to Heather for Christmas. This commission took an unusual twist, though, because he wanted to be surprised on Christmas, too. Really, the only questions I asked him during the making of this quilt is what color should I use for borders, sashing and backing. The answer was orange, obviously, which works great. When I handed off the quilt to them, I had it pretty-well wrapped in a gift bag with tissue paper all around. They saved it for Christmas and opened it together. His texts to me as well as his Facebook and Instagram posts have been so sweet. They really love the quilt and that makes me so very happy. I admit that I had teary eyes more than once during the months I worked on this, and even this week as I heard from Devin.

All along, I was very careful not to post any telling pictures, but I did drop occasional hints. Here are a few pics I posted related to this project.

Devin and Heather, it was an honor to be asked to make this quilt for you. You know how special Alexis was to me; few students have the special spark that she had. She will always occupy a special place in my heart.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Diamonds Update

Was Christmas wonderful at your house? It sure was at ours. We had to share our daughters with their significant others, but we made up for their absence by being with the great horde that is my side of the family. My brother and his wife hosted us, and below are the ones who attended.

My mother is seated in the center of the sofa. I am directly behind her with a sister on each side of me. My brothers are sitting on either side of Mom. Surrounding this core group are all the in-laws, grandkids and great-grandkids. We were missing a few, sadly, but we had a good time and we always do.

My stitching has become more relaxed now that the commissions are finished. I am back to enjoying the hand quilting on Erin's Diamonds. I have very nearly finished it, and will have to return to the shop today to find just one more skein of pearl cotton for the remaining bits. It is fully expected that I will have this finished by the end of '16. Whoo-hooo!

Seeing that bottom row of half-diamonds was surely a welcome sight! At the top of the picture you can see the tails of the threads yet to be quilted in. I like that I did this, and will remember to do it again on the next quilt. It does make the job seem more efficient.

Taking it off the hoop gives me a moment to study the look that the quilting gives it. I love the gradation of colors - and the quilting - and the boldness. Frankly, I can't think of anything I don't like about this quilt!!

Why, even the backing looks fantastic. I will be sure to turn it to the back when it is entirely finished so you can see all three prints I used.

No more hoop. What remains will be done without it. The bottom left corner is the area I still must tend to. I have partial quilt lines and some diamonds that are completely stitch-less. It should take me no time at all to finish off these bits. (Note that new carpet under there?? This quilt fills the family room; it's a large queen/small king - in other words, monstrous!)

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Many blessings to one and all!

Merry Christmas, Dear Blog Friends!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

A Christmas Tour

I have a Christmas Eve special for you!

I am finally ready to show you our newly painted downstairs! I have been so excited to do this, but waited until I had my Christmas decorations in place before I took pictures. This extra time allowed for us to have the new carpet installed in the family room (just two days ago!), and also give DH time to do some 'touch ups' that he was fretting about. So let's begin!

This is one side of the family room complete with new carpet! The door behind the rocker goes to our screened porch. In the rocker, I have draped Eventide. On the antique chest is a yo-yo table topper made from a Thimbleberries pattern.

This window is at the far end of the family room. I have a small table there with this little Charlie Brown tree and a pretty table topper that was a gift from a blogging friend. Quilt Sue, remember sending this to me?  You are sooo sweet!

The kitchen table has a Thimbleberries table cloth, although its design doesn't show (the decorative parts are along the outer edges), along with a felted candle mat and centerpiece. Another tree fills in a spot in the bay window.

Leading from the kitchen into the formal dining room, I've added yet another small tree. This one has a garland of homespun yo-yos and a handful of counted-cross stitch ornaments which I made years and years ago.

Now we are in the formal dining room looking back at that little tree in the previous picture. This room had become more of an office than a dining room. In the great painting project, we decided that we wanted to return it to its original purpose. Have you been noticing the newly painted walls and trim? DH did a fabulous job. Every picture in today's post shows some portion of our downstairs, all of which has been newly painted.

Our front room has our big tree. The day I took these pictures was not a particularly sunny day, but there is enough light coming in the windows that the rooms all look darker than they really are. (If I had any idea of how to control lighting when I use my cell phone camera, I could correct this!)

Perhaps curtains would make a difference? Are you noticing that none of my windows has curtains? All were removed when we painted and are so faded that I've decided to replace them. This will take a bit of thought, however, so in the meantime we are curtain-less; not a problem for us in our remote country setting. We are more likely to have a deer or a bird peeping in our windows than a human. Curtains really are not a necessity here.

With the windows behind me, the shadows are diminished and the wall color look much more true. Here is our front room sofa, with Winter Lily draped over the corner. The NOEL art on the wall is another of my counted cross stitch creations from 30-some years ago. I was big into cross stitch before taking up quilting. The table runner on the coffee table is one I made a few years ago - no particular pattern; just random Christmas prints in random blocks with a border.

The view in the photo above is from our front entrance. I have always hung our stockings from this banister. We look clear across the front room and the dining room is through the door you see through the rungs.

Perhaps my favorite spot of the house is this little corner in the front room. Grandma's old secretary is on the left, then I have a ladder holding quilts. The churn dash - or is it monkey wrench? - quilt takes top billing. In my chair, I have draped Chock Full O' Charm in that gorgeous French General fabric. I like this corner for reading. It's out of the way of traffic; I feel almost like I'm hiding from everyone when I sit here.

At the foot of the stairs right inside the front door, sits this bucket bench which looks mighty spiffy with a stack of quilt tops folded there. I showed these off more fully in a recent post, if you want to scroll back to see details. I really am considering having a few of these quilted before next Christmas.

I will finish the tour with this picture from the entry hall. When I was very small, my grandparents gave me and my siblings stockings, all like this. I used mine continuously each Christmas even into adulthood. At some point about 5 or 6 years ago, I realized that it was losing some of its decorations and needed to be retired. I had it framed to preserve it; I love bringing it out every December. I estimate that this was given to me in 1960, so we are looking at a true vintage piece here - 56 years!

This tour has now concluded. I hope you are enjoying your Christmas Eve! I expect DD2 to stop in later today. She will then go on to her boyfriend's house for Christmas there. Tomorrow afternoon we will get to spend time with some extended family on my side when my brother and sister-in-law host an open house for all of us.

We will go to mass this evening and probably drive around to see Christmas lights - that's sort of a tradition we started when the kids were little, yet we still do it ourselves now that they are grown!

Merry Christmas, Friends!