Sunday, September 30, 2018

September Wrap-Up

What a beautiful Sunday here in Ohio! The weather is perfect; our windows are open; we have the fountain out back which sounds so nice, plus the birds, the occasional breeze that sweeps through the windchimes. I just love this time of year.

While putting together my collage for September I realized that I had only a small amount of sewing pictures to share. That makes sense, since I posted fewer blog entries this month than any in recent memory.

The first two pictures of the top row represent a major vehicular change at our house. We'd had two older cars that were just simply in need of too many repairs. They were so bad we couldn't even drive them without a jump-start or whatnot. Finally, DH found a truck he liked at our favorite used car dealer, and we struck a deal. The truck is a Honda Ridgeline, used, and will serve our needs quite well. Best of all, it will be something we can rely on, at last.

The third picture in the top row is of the Columbus skyline, taken last Sunday when we walked with the kids. I mentioned in my opening that today is a gorgeous day, but last Sunday was a beauty, too. If you skip ahead to the center pic of the collage, you will see how many steps and miles we walked that day. My legs and tootsies ached through Wednesday.

The first picture in the middle row shows you some furniture makeover work in our garage. Old, hand-me-down end tables have gotten a fresh new look and now sit on either side of our new sofa. I will do a post on the family room re-do soon.

The last picture in the middle row is my current progress on Picnic at Daybreak, aka my basket quilt. If I worked hard later today, I could have it together before the month is out, but I doubt I will muster that kind of focus between now and day's end. *grin*

The bottom row of the collage features two more sewing projects - the hexies for Lake Effect and the hand-quilting I will be taking to History Day. The middle pic is of the aforementioned new sofa along with the easy chair, which is also new.

*We also went to the Columbus Parade of Homes this month.

*And we got to 'kitty sit' for adorable little Rocky.

*We celebrated an 80th birthday with a college prof and his wife.

*We paid tribute to the late Burt Reynolds when we attended a movie night with friends as they projected Smokey and The Bandit on the wall of their barn.

*We learned to polka last night at Greenfield's Oktoberfest celebration. 

With September wrapped up, what is on the horizon for October? First, I will be finishing the basket quilt top. One other that simply must be finished: the triangle baby quilt. Now, I know of another new baby coming at the end of December, and I will be whipping up something for that first-time mom's baby shower in about 3 weeks. *yikes!*

Sharon is coming on Tuesday, and we will each sew a Chock Full of Charms quilt while we are together. I have several Betsy Chutchian charm packs that I will use, I think. There are other options, too, so I still could change my mind.

Yes, there will be more - I hope! - but that's what is in my immediate future.

I'm gonna' go enjoy the rest of this beautiful day!!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Saturday, September 29, 2018

History Day - A Week Away

This time next week, I will be perched at my quilt frame all set up to demonstrate hand quilting at our annual History Day celebration in Greenfield. Because several good family friends are members of the Greenfield Historical Society board and officers, I was asked several years ago (maybe 8?) if I would do this, and I've been doing it ever since.* Other "old time" arts demonstrated are chair caning, wood carving, watercolor painting, apple cider making, and more. I enjoy the day, as I get to see so many folks from around the area. I also love it when an onlooker asks questions about quilting or begins telling a story of a grandmother's quilts or some such. (This post from '16 explains the basics of History Day.)

Today, the question before me is what quilt will I put in the frame to work on? I hate to admit that the quilt I took TWO YEARS ago is still in the frame, untouched (except to move it from one spot to another) since 2016. Shameful! I plan to take that one out, and put something else in.

I have a good excuse for my shameful behavior - a couple, actually. First, to explain that asterisk (*) above, I missed out on participating last year (2017) due to an upper respiratory infection. I hated having to cancel, but I was concerned about being infectious, and I didn't think I could maintain the stamina needed to sit and quilt for 6 hours. (Woe is me!)

2016 quilt - Antique Nine Patches (from book by Sue Abrey)
Second, I marked the quilt with a graphite pencil that smeared terribly, and I had a huge mess on both my quilt and my hand. Talk about being totally bummed out! Now that I am two years removed from the unfortunate mishap, I have finally come to a decision as to correcting the situation. I will remove the stitches - there weren't that many - and then gently scrub the smears off. Problem solved.

All this does not, however, solve the dilemma of what to quilt THIS year.

I don't think I want to take the time to prepare the quilt pictured above for a second go-round. I will just remove it from the frame, fold it and set it aside. I need to select a quilt top to layer with batting and backing. I have many from which to choose.

I pulled this lap quilt out of the closet because of the great fall colors, plus it is not a huge quilt and the chances of finishing are greater. It's a Thimbleberries pattern called Fall Foliage, and it measures 56x65 inches. I think I will do a Baptist Fan quilting design on it.

I also pulled an even smaller quilt - table topper or wall hanging - to put in a portable hoop. I stitched this HST quilt out of Roman Holiday remnants last December. I might do "freehand" quilting on this in the style of Lori Simpson. She uses "big-stitch" techniques along with "eye-balling" a design. I think I can do that.

Hope you are having a super Saturday! DH and I are going to learn to polka dance later this evening, and then we have a big ballgame to watch - Ohio State vs. Penn State. Go BUCKS!!!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Forever Planning the Next Quilt

It must be an inherent quilters' quality because I know of many quilters who do this very thing: we have plans for a gazillion quilts all while we are finishing up a current one. We quilters are forever looking forward to the next exciting project, anticipating a great new beginning - touching the fabric, creating a new pattern, or remaking an old favorite. Gives me a thrill just typing about it!

I suppose you have guessed that I have some plans in the works for after my basket quilt top is made, right? I have several, actually.

First, I have a special Christmas quilt I want to get busy on and since that involves secret sewing, I won't be saying any more about that. Second, Sharon and I want to make another 'Chock Full of Charm' quilt using charm packs. Third, I need to put the border on the baby quilt I was making earlier this summer, as the baby was born on Sunday! (Welcome to the world, Grady!)

And last, (for now) I want to make a jelly roll quilt, seeing as how I missed the great Jelly Roll Sewing day back in the middle of the month.

I actually have pulled my jelly roll and matched it up with a neutral from my stash. This very special Minick and Simpson Indigo Crossing jelly roll will be paired with this old Anna Barnes neutral - so old, in fact, that I have absolutely no idea how old it is, nor when or where I bought it.

Recently, Sharon made a jelly roll quilt called Daisy Chain, and I am leaning toward doing that same pattern with this combination. Since I still have a bit of time to decide, I won't firm up my plans for a week or so.

Speaking of Sharon, we have decided to take a break from every week sewing, as she has taken on a more active Grandma role. But we aren't giving it up entirely, and this next Tuesday we will be sharing a day together! Yay! She wants to work on Chock Full of Charms, and I will do the same.

I hope you are having a great Thursday!
Happy Quilting, Friends!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Lake Effect: Approaching the Applique Phase

Lake Effect - early on I referred to it as the 10-year-project, but I have really progressed on it so far this calendar year, and I find myself nearing the point that starting the applique sections is on my mind. I expect to finish faster than 10 years. *grin*

To do any applique, I needed to print off the pattern to the correct size. After many frustrating attempts on my home printer, I finally took my digital pattern (by Minick and Simpson and purchased from Fat Quarter Shop) to school and sought assistance from the copier experts. I needed to use 11"x17" paper, and we did it up right - color!

In the upper corner of the first picture, you see my stack of hexies - evidence that I really am making steady progress. Once I get the center section of hexies sewn together I will be able to stitch them to the center applique panel. Suddenly making that panel becomes a priority.

The hexies are sewn together in sections as shown above. I will soon have those 4 parts for the center done.

Making that simple (?) little center panel will test my mettle. I have long held a reluctance to do applique, and this pattern sorta' forces the issue, doesn't it? It seems harmless enough at 11"x 15", but then I begin trying to figure how in the world to make those skinny stems on the branches, and how to get those berries to be round (as opposed to lopsided and wonky). I will stew about it, I'm sure.

My initial effort was to make a big shape, a simple shape - one that had few deep curves or narrow bits. Say hello to this happy cardinal. Not bad for a first effort. Next I will try some leaves. I've had to put the whole business aside lately, but I will return to it.

Have you wonderful readers any applique advice for me? Is there a secret trick you use to deal with the narrow bits or the deep curves? Do you use freezer paper? Do you go with raw-edge? Needle turn? Right now, I am going the freezer paper route, but I leave myself open to changing my mind. I will gladly learn from anyone with tips and pointers.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

A Lengthy Absence!

Where have I been, for goodness' sake? I can't even remember the last time I took such an extended break from blogging. While I have been trending to less frequent posts, I do try to maintain at least one per week. Phht! Now even that plan has been shredded! Mercy me!

Since I last posted, life has become hyper-busy. In no particular order, let me fill you in on all of my non-sewing activities. First, we moved our book club meeting ahead one week to accommodate a member's vacation. This meant that I had to hustle to get our book read, and it is so popular that both the library's hold lists - the book and the audio - were long. I ended up ordering it from Amazon, got it on Tuesday and needed to have it finished by Thursday. Needless to say I did not finish in time, but I made what I consider to be quite a valiant effort.

The book? A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. My, my. It is fantastic.

I know so very little of Russian history, and this provides me with a great glimpse into the time of the Russian Revolution of the early 20th century through the Soviets' involvement in WWII about 20 years later--basically the time that Stalin was rising to power. Of course, with frequent flashbacks, the earlier time of Lenin is also prevalent. Surprisingly, I found it quite fascinating--and tragic, all at the same time. The author has accomplished quite a feat of melding a fantastic fiction into the political and social scenes of the day. I am sure I will pick up other Towles' titles, as this one has been a pure delight to read.

Now you know, if a quilter is reading a book, she is NOT sewing, right? I have had only tiny bits of sewing time in the last 10 days or so.

In other activities, DH and I drove down to Jackson, OH, on Friday to meet a dear, dear friend from our college days for lunch. Teri was in our wedding party (1979!), as was her late husband Ray. I didn't take a single picture of our time together, but, gosh, we had a fabulous visit. We could have talked for hours. And the food at Arch and Eddie's is out of this world delish! If you ever get a chance to eat at Arch and Eddie's, do it. I have had several meals there in recent years, and every one has been a pleaser.

This past Sunday was another very busy day, first with a visit to Chillicothe's VA Hospital and the traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall exhibit, then in Columbus with our two daughters and their guys.

The Memorial Wall was in town for just 4 days, and since Sunday was the final day, we had to do it prior to our afternoon's activities. And I am so very glad we made that effort, because it was especially moving and  somber - emotional, too. Flower and remembrances had been left by those with personal connections to names on the wall, and several Vietnam veterans were there to remember and honor their fellow servicemen and women.

Our afternoon activity supported DD2, Emma, who had recruited all of us to walk in the Columbus Walk to End Alzheimer's. What a gloriously beautiful day for it. All told, with our walking from DD1, Erin's, apartment to the walk venue Huntington Park, then afterwards to a Grandview restaurant - Haufbrauhaus - then back to Erin's apartment, we tallied 9.23 miles. Yes, you read that right - 9.23 miles! Yowie, my feet still ache!

It's easy to ignore aching feet when views like this of the city skyline are on display. Look at that sky, the calm Scioto River, the later afternoon sun shining off the buildings - just lovely.

Those are just some of the highlights of my non-sewing activities in the last week-to-ten-days. Plenty of goings-on were not captured on camera - a drive to Marshall to get a quarter of beef for the freezer. YUM! Plus, on that little jaunt, I did stop at an Amish market in Rainsboro to pick up some pumpkins and gourds.

Some of these are for eating; others are for decorating. Some will decorate until they are eaten! *hah!* See mantel, below.

Probably the only other activity gobbling up much of my extra time is the teaching obligation. I think I have already mentioned that I picked up a third class, which boosts  my student total from 40 to 60. That will be a lot of essays to read once the assignments begin coming in. I am working very diligently to stay on top of the workload so that the overwhelmed feeling remains at bay for as long as possible.

Now, believe it or not, I do have a very tiny bit of quilting-related activity to share, and I will get that exciting (?) information prepped for the next post! Hope you'll all come on back to check it out!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Lake Effect Work Continues

Since it's a Slow Sunday sort of day, and since I actually have been hand-stitching my Lake Effect hexies today, I thought I would share the progress.

Way back at the beginning of 2018, I had an entire project tub full of these individual elongated hexies waiting to be stitched together. Now, the 3 stacks in the photo above are all the individual ones remaining. I have stitched all the rest into larger units. These two January posts contain photographic evidence of my progress: Jan. 7, and Jan. 21.

Most of my stitching in recent weeks has been to sew 6 hexies together. These will then be connected one on top of another to make a long column of hexies.

Don't they look tidy all stacked up like this? After doing so many of these, I have become quite quick at stitching a unit together. Next will be to get back to making the larger units.

When I first began this quilt, I reminded myself not to dwell on the gazillions of little bits needing to be sewn together. Instead, I thought only about getting one little part done at a time. Dwelling on the big stuff is overwhelming. Focusing on a small unit at a time is totally doable.

I invite you to visit Kathy at her Slow Sunday Stitching link-up. A plethora of hand-stitchers are meeting there to share their activities, including me!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Bark Cloth - A New Interest

A month or so ago, I saw the most adorable little zipper pouch on Instagram. I've sorta' been on a bit of a bark cloth "kick" ever since. Below is the pic I saved, and you can click here to make your way to other gorgeous beauties by this designer.

Seeing this fabric sparked a memory in me of fabrics I remember from my childhood - not just in our own home, but at both grandparents' houses, aunts' and uncles' houses, probably many friends of our family, too. Then I remembered a piece of this cloth that I actually own stashed away upstairs in the sewing room.

Why I have saved this fabric, I have no idea. I do not remember where or when I got it, either. The piece is sewn into a case for a smallish pillow, but that does not help me remember my origins with it. (A mind is a terrible thing to waste, you know?) *grin*

Perhaps bark cloth is seeing a resurgence in popularity. I wonder if it's the combination of design and texture that appeals so much? A week ago, DH and I attended the Columbus BIA Parade of Homes, and the very first home on the tour featured a bedroom decorated with bark cloth window treatments, pillow, and chair upholstery.

My piece of bark cloth is in very good condition, so I think I will try copying the inspiration picture and see what kind of a sweet zipper bag I can come up with. Add some embellishments of lace or denim or simply a complimentary fabric, perhaps? Yes, that sounds nice. And don't forget a sweet beaded pull.

One aspect of Instagram that I have come to appreciate is the concept of # (hashtag). If I am interested in something, I can just search that item with the # in front of it. So, for example, when I wanted to see more bark cloth, I entered #barkcloth (don't use spaces in a hashtag search) in the search bar, and WHOA!! What a vast array of beautiful fabrics I found. Then I also searched #vintagebarkcloth, and that elicited even more! I admit to being slow to the game on understanding hashtags, but IG has helped to enlighten me.

This new interest in bark cloth prompted me into a nearby thrift store to see if I could find any items like curtains which were made of bark cloth. Nope. But I think I will remain on the lookout for it. As I have seen the vast array of designs on IG, I find myself more and more drawn to it.

Happy Saturday! I am taking my little stash of Lake Effect hexies on a quick overnight to Columbus. Progress has been steady on those hexies, and I feel a big final push coming on for finishing them off.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Additional Blockheads 2 Update

Over the weekend, I took some time to make a couple more BH2 blocks, just to prove to myself that I was hanging in there with this sew-along. I have a bit of a history of beginning these things, and then not finishing them for a very long time.

In the historic York fabric (my name/I needed a short way to reference it), I have made Fidget Spinner, a very complicated block. I might have gotten this one right. But maybe not. (I know for sure that the one in the other colorway I'm doing is wrong.) Right or wrong, it is staying this way.

In the pastel colorway, the block looks totally different, and I really missed the whole idea of a spinning effect in the block. Oh well; I'm probably not changing it.

While working on these blocks, I had a book queued up on my Overdrive app listening to my third Susan Meissner book, The Shape of Mercy. I am so glad I discovered this author; I love historical fiction and she is a gem. This particular book dealt with the time of the Salem Witch Trials.

So let's have a look at all my completed blocks. First, all 8 of my York blocks.

And now, all 8 of my pastel blocks.

Same blocks, but very different looks. That always fascinates me with quilt blocks. The placement of fabrics makes a world of difference in the look. In the end, though, it nearly always looks good.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Remember Blockheads?

When Blockheads 2 began about 3 months ago, I joined in and remained caught up through the first month. At some point about week 5 or 6 I found myself snagged on a block that required more fabric than my fat-quarters could handle. I could not muster the problem-solving mentality at the time to figure out an alternative, so I put it aside.

Now that at least 15 block patterns have been released, I have scolded myself that I'd better buckle down, or else I may never catch up. With some new resolve, I pulled out the patterns (even though I have not been sewing, I have faithfully printed off each pattern) with the idea that I'd make the easiest one.

Of all the blocks I have waiting to be made, I selected this one called With A Plus. Basic, right? I sure didn't need to invest tons of brain waves to crank this one out. If you recall, I am making two versions of the BH2 blocks, and the second colorway is finished, as well. Low contrast in the one; high contrast in the other. I like them both. No need to choose favorites.

I promise that I sew in straight lines, but both of these blocks look a bit off on at least one side. Maybe I need to press more carefully. Anyhoo, I know they are okay.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Monday, September 3, 2018

Lake Effect Update

After posting late Saturday night about things I thought I might try to accomplish in the new month, I had a comment from Gretchen asking about my progress on Lake Effect. It hadn't even occurred to me to add this to the list of projects for September, as I have steadily worked on it all year long, especially on those Friday get-togethers with the Frankfort Girls.

I am continuing to sew rows of 6 hexies together, and soon I will have to consult the pattern a bit more frequently to see the height and width of the sections I will be needing. I have done a bit of this already (click here to see), but I stopped when I realized that to optimize my random placement of fabrics and colors, I needed units rather than individual hexies. Blending will be easier with bigger pieces to move around - at least that's the hope!

Over this Labor Day weekend, we had a Sunday trip to our niece's in the Columbus area, so I took my little sewing pouch with me to stitch while DH drove. In just that couple of hours on the road, I  stitched 4  6-unit strips together. On Friday morning, we Frankfort Girls met at Sheryll's and I did about 5 strips there, so the last few days have been productive -- and the weekend isn't over yet. *grin*

I know that very soon I will need to print out the pattern pieces for the appliqued panels and begin that process. I admitted in a recent Instagram post that I have an inherent disinclination toward applique, but I am determined to overcome it. This will really test me, but I am ready for the challenge!

Thanks, Gretchen, for thinking to ask about Lake Effect, and for being so faithful to comment frequently. I appreciate you so much! Here's Gretchen's blog, if some of my readers would like to give her some love, click over and take a peek around! In addition to being a quilter, she's a diary farmer! I was raised on a dairy farm, so I know what a special life you live, Gretchen!

Happy Quilting, Friends!