Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Progressing Right Along with Great Grannies

Such a funny name for a block - in an odd way, you know. Great Granny Block. The name comes from the crocheted blocks called granny squares. The little squares were/are popular because they provide a great way to use leftover bits of yarn. Click this link to see a Pinterest example. These crocheted versions translate well to fabric, and likewise, they are great for using scraps.

So, as I understand it, some clever quilter ramped up the granny square by adding another row around it, thus making it a great granny square. Whenever I first saw them - sometime in the last 15 years, I suppose - I knew that I would love making these blocks.

So now, I am nearly finished with enough to make a quilt. Click back here to see when I had just 6 blocks finished with plans to go to 20. At some point I decided to go to 30, and this morning I stand at 28 finished blocks, with the remaining 2 prepped and awaiting stitching beside my machine.

When I began making these blocks, I really had no specific plan in mind for what I would end up with. The more I made, the more I realized that I ought to decide on a plan, so that sent me to Pinterest (obvious!) and, of course, there are just so many varieties. I had in mind that I would attach block-to-block (no sashing in between). That plan changed when I saw this one with sashing, cornerstones, and a simple little outer border that really struck my fancy.

As of this moment, the 28 finished blocks are hanging precariously from my design wall. I am placing these blocks in front of other projects which explains the bit of confusion in the lower left corner. The lower right corner has a mass of electrical cords obstructing the view, but this is what happens when spilling over the edges of the design wall.

Originally, I was trying to lean to predominantly pink and navy colors. I have added in a few more - specifically gray - but I hope when I begin placing blocks, I can spread out the pinks more evenly amongst the navy. I will enjoy arranging them to suit me. The pinks are quite "loud" and I hope I can tame them with the calmer blues and grays.

Making these blocks has allowed me to create a rather efficient system, which I will share in a future post. Many tutorials are available on line, and that is where I studied various methods. 

An update on my cold - I believe it wasn't a cold at all. It was allergies! I have never in my life been an allergy sufferer. Thankfully. Former coworkers and students suffered terribly, and our son is miserable each spring due to tree pollen. Mine came on as laryngitis, grew into congestion and watery, itchy eyes. I went for 10 days treating it with cold remedies. When it finally occurred to me to try an allergy medicine, the improvement was incredible. My gosh, what a discovery! I still have itchy eyes and a scratchy throat, but I am so much improved. 

Today, I will finish blocks 29 and 30, then begin prepping the sashing strips and cornerstones. I also want to load another quilt on Tin Lizzie, so that might happen, too.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Finish For A Friend

Sometimes it becomes necessary to come to a friend's aid; to finish a quilt that a friend is unable to finish. Sharon and I find ourselves in this position with a mutual friend, and we have slowly worked our way through 2 quilts with approximately 5 more to do. Read about the first finish here. We - Sharon and I - have backings ready for two more, with plans to quilt soon.

The current finish is this beautiful Jacob's Ladder quilt, a pattern called James River Blues by Bonnie Blue Quilts  (now Red Crinoline Quilts). Our friend Kay made this at some point in recent years, but illness has prevented her from finishing it.

Just before going on retreat, I loaded it onto the long arm machine to quilt first thing after getting home. It took me longer to get to it than I'd planned, but finally on Thursday afternoon I quilted it. The quilting was simple enough; I had anticipated some difficulty, but nothing was too trying. The term "quilting out" really does apply when one has a quilt top containing a few imperfections with stretching or unevenness. 

Today, I have spent the morning applying the binding. This is a big quilt, 84" square, and quite bulky, but it is done, and it really looks pretty darn good. 

The backing is gorgeous. This was found in Kay's storage, all prepped and ready for this quilt. It has been a dream to work with, yet I do not know the name or the maker of the backing. It is a pretty unknown gem found among Kay's quilting treasures.

This coming week, a big outing is planned. Several of us are going to visit Kay, and we are taking this quilt to give to her. I hope she finds it a beautiful surprise, one that she looks on with pleasure. There sure was a lot of pleasure in finishing it.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Retreat Wrap-Up

We've been home from retreat since midday Friday, yet I have been awol in my wrapping up the various activities. Let me just say that I don't do well with a head cold, I guess. This darn thing has had me in its grip since the first day of retreat, and now going on 12 days, I am ready to finally go to Urgent Care to see if I need some stronger medicine. I do not get sick very often, so this is quite unusual for me. *grumble-grumble*

Here are some pics for you to enjoy. Sheryll had a lot of Easter sewing that she finished up, plus a Simple Whatnots UFO that she finished, as well.

These two pillow covers are wool applique on flannel. Sheryll always does such pretty applique work. 

Her granddaughter surely had fun playing with this little chick in a zippered egg. Perfect for a toddler.

The Kim Diehl Simple Whatnots mini looks just as cute as can be. Several of the girls in our group participated in this sew-along, all with quite pretty results.

Jan was extraordinarily busy the entire retreat week. She brought 4 kits/UFOs and finished them all. 

Monday's finish.

Tuesday's finish.

Wednesday's finish.

Thursday's finish.

I am sorry to report that I failed to take pictures of the blocks Becky worked so diligently on. She has begun a beauty of a quilt using reproduction fabrics. This will definitely be a quilt I will share as she works along on it.

As for my own retreat accomplishments, I feel pretty darn good to have finished these 4 items, especially as I was fighting the head cold.

Monday - mini trip around the world.

Tuesday - 3-yard quilt.

Thursday - Ohio Star Exchange quilt top.

Also Thursday - hand-stitched the binding on Lady of the Lake.

We were a small group this year at retreat, but we still had a great time. The group is already signed up for next year and hopefully everyone will be healthy so attendance will be full-up. If planned well, a camper can get lots done and that is a very good feeling. It makes one feel as though the week was well spent when finishes result. 

Back here in the quilting room, I've been thinking about several projects and working on none. Before the day is out, I believe I will stand at the long arm machine and finish off a quilt.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Blessed Easter


Easter has been a low-key affair here today.  Son is way out west; DD1 and her hubby are with his family; DD2 joined us for Easter dinner. Gone are the days when candy and bunnies take center stage. We enjoyed good fellowship and a right fine feast.

Since coming home from quilt retreat, I finally succumbed to the head cold I was holding at bay all week. I tried warding it off the best I could while camping, but once at home have let the meds do their work and and have slept and slept and slept. It was a good thing we had a low-key Easter planned. I wasn't up for too much fuss. I believe I have turned the corner and intend to have a productive week here in the quilting room.

One plan is to do a proper round-up of quilt retreat. We had many finishes and celebrated quite a productive week together. 

So while we enjoy the remainder of this quiet Easter Sunday, I hope you and yours have had a blessed day!

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Retreat Activities

 Sewing and shopping and talking and dreaming. That sums up the 3 days we've been here at quilt retreat. The venue is called Needles n' Pines in Nelsonville, Ohio, and our group has been here three times now. We have plans for two more shorter retreats later this year, and will sign up for this full-week event again next April. The accommodations are fantastically convenient and comfortable - we are so at home in every way.

My Featherweight is set up and serving up some satisfying stitching! I feel as though we have all been very productive. Let's see some of our sewing. I am showing just a bit of the action here, for I know there will be many finishes by week's end. I'll share those then, of course.

Susan is in a quilt guild and is catching up on her Block of the Month blocks for a sew-along that they sponsor. 

Becky showed us her tiny bowtie blocks - these measure 2.5" - the quilt they will go into is called Bowtie Block Quilt, a 2016 pattern by Lisa Bongean. Becky will need 1,512 bowties to make this quilt. WHOA!!

Mae-Lynne Makers Studio is the local quilt shop and they work so nicely with the retreat managers. Quilt campers are offered a discount for shopping and, of course, we always take advantage of this perk!

The owners are in the process of redecorating and reorganizing, but we certainly found plenty to buy. We will come again in August, and should see a brand new store.

Susan's shopping included buying fabric to make a pillow case for a nursing home patient she knows. This will brighten "Bootsie's" room for Easter, won't it? Susan had this whipped up in no time after our shopping outing.

As you know, I've been making Great Granny Blocks from my scraps, but (believe it or not) I'd run out of suitable colors for the "look" I have been going for, so I shopped for additions to my Grannies. You see some of them pinned up under the blocks. All the dark blues are new, and two of the pinks are new.

Jan, one of our campers, gifted everyone with 3-yard quilt kits. The books are by Donna Robertson, a designer/author who has a whole series created around making a quilt with just three yards of fabric. What a great gift, and several of us made ours - they are easy enough to be done in a day. 

This is Becky's 3-yard quilt, minus its borders. She has made the design choice to add an extra narrow border and will have to buy just a bit more fabric (making it more than 3 yards, obviously). 

Susan's 3-yard quilt.

My 3-yard quilt.

We have had more productivity but I've not taken time to organize the pictures and prepare them for use here on the blog. I've been sewing! 

It's been a great week so far. I'll be back soon to wrap things up.

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

A Quilting Marathon?

We all know that a small sewing group or just one sewing buddy can be an inspiration to us as we go through the ebbs and flows of quilting and creating. I most definitely benefit from all the gorgeous creations made by Sharon, the Frankfort Girls and others. 

Online sources can also offer lots of inspiration. I discovered this long ago with blogs, and still follow one or two from when I first discovered blogs, way back in the early- to mid-2000s. 

Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram offer countless hours of inspiration, if a quilter finds herself in an "I don't know what to start next" phase. Warning: perusing these online sources can also waste countless hours of valuable quilting time. I speak from experience, don't you know. *sheepish grin*

Shared here before, I've shown pictures of my quilt closets. I've got so many quilt tops needing to be quilted that at my current rate I could be at the long arm machine for years before finishing them all. And, yes, I've had to extend the storage to a second closet as well as an over-the-door hook.

The quilting room closet.

The long arm room closet.

Hanging on the sewing room door.

With that bit of background, you now know why this next picture from Instagram captured my attention - it looks like MY closet! Click the picture to be taken to the IG post.

Screenshot of @happyquiltingmc

When I read the caption for the photo, I was genuinely intrigued. This is a lofty goal, and maybe - just maybe - I could do a marathon, too? 

Let me introduce you to Melissa of Happy Quilting blog and her corresponding Instagram account, happyquiltingmc. When she said she was going to do a quilting marathon, it left me considering how many marathons I'd have to complete in order to clear out these closets and hooks. 

Yes, I am sorta' taken with the idea.

Give her credit. She has backs already prepared for her tops, and bindings, too. (What an over-achiever.) I, on the other hand, have a bolt of backing fabric, plenty of stash fabric, and a good supply of battings. That, at least, provides me with a start. Maybe I could make this work. 

Hey, even if I don't complete my own marathon, I'd be getting some quilts quilted, and that would be far better than having so many quilt tops hanging in closets.

My current goal is to quilt 2 per month. I am doing great on that goal, and can see where it is not a stretch to do a quilt per week. The trick for me is my follow-through. Will I make myself increase my goal to one per week, week after week? 

Commitment. That's what it will take. 

At this point, I figure I might as well try. What on earth is there to lose? There is absolutely no downside to this. Any amount of quilted quilts is better than zero quilted quilts. I can count week 1 done, too, as I've shared it already. 

Lady of the Lakes was quilted just after discovering Melissa's marathon idea. Timely find, right? And since the quilt retreat was going to take up most of the next week, I went ahead and loaded the quilt for the second week. Loading is a big part of the process, and having this out of the way will make it easier for me to get straight to quilting when I get home from retreat.

So, my first ever marathon has begun. Not the running kind, but 26 weeks of quilting might leave me just as breathless. Can I count on you readers to be my cheerleaders??

Happy Quilting, Friends!



Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Sharon's Got the Blues!

Since the beginning of the year, Sharon has been steadily sewing this quilt. It was a kit she had from Connecting Threads. Last Tuesday, she finished the flimsy. 

When we finish quilts around here, we always march them over to the bedroom and spread them out on the bed. 

I shared details about this pattern called 'Tahoe' back in January when she began working on the quilt. Click here for the link. I can safely say that she is glad to be done with it, as the directions were not the most user-friendly she'd ever encountered. The end result is pleasing, nonetheless, so all's well that ends well.

We are taking a week off from sewing together as I am at retreat. I know we will be rearing to go next week when we meet and catch up with each other. 

Happy Quilting, Friends!

Monday, April 11, 2022

Frankfort Girls

The Frankfort Girls are spending the week at Needles n' Pines a quilt retreat house in Nelsonville, OH. Well, some of the girls are here. Some are dealing with health issues and family obligations that prevented their attending this year. I will share more on the retreat as we finish up later in the week.

The last time we ladies met, we had a few show and tell quilts to share with everyone. I almost always try to take pictures so I can share them here with you readers. They sure seem to stay busy at the sewing machines. 

When we were at Jan's a couple weeks ago, we shared a lot of quilts, but only one will go into this post. I am saving the rest for a feature I am planning for a few months out on the topic of UFOs. Yes, I asked all the girls to share what they thought to be their oldest UFOs with me, and I am documenting each one. I will put together a series of posts about them at some later date.

So, the one quilt to share is a mini quilt from Sharon. She made this entirely by hand, and it is just darling! From the looks of the strategically placed safety pins, I'd say she is ready to begin quilting.

You might notice that she has placed one Sunbonnet Sue in this otherwise fully Overall Bill quilt. Sharon opted to change one block to a girl so as to represent her only granddaughter. The boys represent Sharon's three grandsons and two sons. Nice!

I said above that I usually remember to take pictures, but I confess that Jan had some finishes which she shared and I did not take pics! Shame on me! Ah, well, perhaps I can make amends in a later post.

By the time this is posted, we should be arriving at our retreat site and settling in for a full, busy week of stitching. Yee-haw!

Happy Quilting, Friends!