Thursday, February 28, 2013

Ta Da!

I was motivated ... well into the night.  The extra Wonky Rose blocks were made and borders were added. Here's my Lovely Finish for February.

   A Whole Lotta Love

This quilt embodies many of the things I love about group quilts.  I am looking forward to quilting it, but until my sewing machine problems are resolved, I'll settle for the knowledge that my perennial work-in-progress is no more.  I finished a few other projects this month, but this 11th hour finish feels the most satisfying.

Since everyone seems to be talking about the rose blocks, I plan to put together my notes, which were previously published here and on the Block Lotto and create a print-friendly document for anyone who's interested.  Leave me a comment and I'll be sure to email you when it's ready.  These blocks really a great way to play with scraps.

Leftover blocks for Back Art
If you made some of the word blocks for the Block Lotto that I won three years ago and don't see them ... they could be part of my plan for some back art for this quilt.

Updating to join the linky parties, Weekend Update on the Block Lotto, Fresh Sewing Day on LilyQuilts and Can I get a Whoop Whoop on Confessions of a Fabric Addict.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Where does it come from?

How do we completely lose interest in a project ... or suddenly feel the urge to pick it up and work on it again?

That's what I've been wondering as the urge to turn these blocks, this perennial WIP, into a quilt has taken hold in a big way.

Working on the Rose Border

I put the word blocks together last night and pulled out the large rose blocks today to begin work on the border. I have a bunch of blocks–many sent to me by friends from the Block Lotto–but I'll need a bunch more.

Will this urge continue?  Will I have the time and inclination for a Lovely Finished top for February after all?

I'm linking with WIP Wednesdays at Freshly Pieced and Esther's Blog.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Word Scramble

I thought my loving words quilt needed some blocks with darker backgrounds, so I pieced these letters with red backgrounds for another block to add to the quilt–can you guess what it will be?

Word Scramble

UPDATE:  Hilda and Kate got it right away: 

My Funny Valentine

Monday, February 25, 2013

Did I Jinx Myself?

Words of Love on my Design WallI probably shouldn't have referred to this as my perennial project at the beginning of the month–perhaps it was a self-fulling prophecy, because today my design wall looks like this.  I hang y head in shame as I link up with Design Wall Monday on the Patchwork Times.

Life and other distractions have been in my way.

It seems unlikely that it will become a lovely finish by the end of February, but stranger things have happened . . .

In the meantime, Oscar, the cats and I had a productive evening.  I added hanging sleeves to three quilts, including this one.

Carolina Byways

Lightweight yardstick as hanger Begun in a workshop in North Carolina in the Spring of 2007, finished a couple years ago in Dallas, Texas where I quilted and bound it.  Last night I added a hanging sleeve so it can hang in my guest bathroom ... today, I realized I never took a photo of the finished quilt.

The pattern is Split Nine-Patch. It was a great way to use a lot of scraps.

It's approximately 36 inches square which means a lightweight promotional yardstick makes a perfect hanging rod.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Stitching with Oscar (and the Cats)

Johnny Settles inI don't know if I'll watch some/all of Academy Awards coverage tonight, but I'm thinking about hand work to have on hand–I have more appliqué sections planned for the tea towel challenge and there are a couple quilts that need hanging sleeves so they can be hung on the wall.  Or maybe I'll start a new knitting project.

I don't know what I'll work on tonight or what I'll end up watching on TV,  but I know the evening will look a little like this:

Me, in a comfortable chair, feet up and covered with a quilt, with a cat snuggling on my lap.  Sometimes it's Johnny Be Good, other times it's Grace Hopper, who will often race me up the stairs and into the den when it's that time and impatiently watch me get organized and settled and make a lap for her.

Jostling for Position
Whomever is first, it won't be long until they are joined by their partner in crime.

There will be some jostling for position. Sometimes one, or the other, decides it's not worth the effort and will give up and go stretch out on on the carpet–my cats love the warm floors in this radiant heated house–or the nearby chair.

Two cats on a lapBut usually, the rest of the evening looks like this, with me knitting or stitching and two cats dozing on my legs.

It's their ritual and part of my Slow Sunday Stitching habit, too.

Saturday, February 23, 2013


When you do you consider a project finished?

Is a quilt finished when the top is complete and it's sent off to a longarm quilter or added to the to-be-quilted pile? When it's quilted and bound, label and hanging sleeve added? This little quilt, pieced in December is now, as Amy once called it, "done, done."

Starry Skies and Shoo Flies

For more details about this little quilt, and measurements for making your own mini-Tall Shoo Flies, see my post on the Block Lotto today.

Is a knit project finished when the knitting is done? When it's sewn together? How about when you wear it for the first time?  I finished the cowl to match my Aran hat last weekend–unfortunately, as a feared, the  yarn requirements in the pattern were wrong and so there will be no matching fingerless mitts.  I am otherwise happy with how it turned out and have been wearing it out in the cold and snow this week.  The cable pattern was easy to remember and fun to knit.

Hat and Cowl Detail of Cable Pattern

Last Fall, I finished another knit, the lacy mystery beret, Meret. When I failed to find a right-sized plate or platter in my kitchen to use to block it, I tucked it away ... until earlier this week, when I was making a stir fry and looked at the cover of my wok in a new away. It was perfectly sized.  After blocking, I added a ribbon inside to keep the edge of my extra-slouchy beret the correct size. Now, this one also feels REALLY finished and ready to wear. 

Blocking on the Wok Lid Beret with Head Size Ribbon Slouchy Beret - "Finished"

I'm joining the link list on Can I Get a Whoop Whoop?  Check out how productive quilters in blog land have been. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Do Over

Ready for a Do-overSpeaking of yellow blooms  . . .  this is the first folky sunflower-like bloom I added to the chunky pieced black background for my tea towel challenge quilt.

I like the color and texture of the gold vintage table cloth, but my needleturn appliqué skills were no match for the loosely woven, thick fabric. I just couldn't make the curves on the ends of some of those "petals" look good.

So, for a few days, work on this project stopped while I considered my options.

Using a different techniqueLast night I remembered a technique for preparing appliqué learned in a Jane Sassaman workshop many years ago using fusible interfacing and a glue stick.  It's time consuming to prepare the pieces . . . but I think it's going to produce nicer shapes.  The two smaller flowers pinned in place on the left were prepared this way and are ready to be sewn.   The original appliqué will be removed and replaced ...

I love the problem solving aspect of quilting and that there are always multiple ways to solve the problem or accomplish your design/vision.

I'll be glad to finish the blooms ... so I can add some leaves on those skinny stems and get busy with a couple of other sections I know I want to add to this quilt.

Updating to add links to:

Weekend Update on
Pat Sloan's Show & Tell

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Neither rain nor hail nor sleet nor snow ...

Cactus FlowerNothing seems to have an impact on this blooming cactus near here. Over the past few days, we've had high winds, cold temperatures, hail and snow ... and yet it continues to bloom.

Lately, I have been much less resilient. Life is kicking my butt and the last four years of challenges, moves, unemployment and bad employment are taking their toll.  Oh yea, and my Bernina stayed "fixed" after the trip to the dealer in Albuquerque for 2 whole weeks before it was dead in it's tracks again.

Here's the long view of this little cactus that could on the edge of a nearby arroyo.

Edge of Arroyo

Update:  Ignorance may be bliss, but , as Hilda and Daryl have pointed out, those aren't flowers.  Those optimistic, resilient yellow blooms that I noticed on the Cholla cactus are actually the fruit of the plant, which turns yellow in winter.  From the web site: 

CANE CHOLLACholla cactus
Opuntia spinosior
Grows from desert floors to grasslands to lower mountain slopes, developing a thick trunk and with purple jointed joints.
Desert: Chihuahuan Desert of southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico
Height: Up to 8 feet
Joints: Thick, tubercled, covered with gray spines
Flowers: From deep purple to yellow and white
Fruit: Flesh, spineless, yellow in winter
Elevation: 2,000-7,000 feet

Sunday, February 17, 2013

First the Stems ...

StemsHere's my plan for stitching while watching TV tonight ... some stems on my black chunky made fabric background for the Tea Towel challenge quilt.

Blossoms and leaves to follow.

Check out the links on Kathy's Slow Stitching Sunday post to see what other kinds of handwork are going on around blog land.


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Playing with Parts

When my Bernina died only 2 weeks after having it repaired, I just didn't feel like working on quilts and it's taken me a while to get back into the mood.

I've been playing with parts.  I made some mostly cream crumb fabric ... and turned it into hen blocks (based on some I had admired in the blog header image of the Polka Dot Chicken blog.) My hens still need eyes and combs.

Cream crumb made fabric Hen blocks from cream crumb made fabric

And then I pulled out the bin of black scraps and used some bigger chunks to make some larger squares ... maybe for a background for appliqué on my tea towel challenge?

Designing on the Wall

The layout may likely will change, but here are my parts and my progress on the tea towel challenge. I have a vintage damask tablecloth that I plan to play with next and add to the mix ...

Friday, February 08, 2013

I've Been Knitting

I've made some knitting progress this week–some of it while waiting for the tow truck and riding in the tow truck (until the sun set and I lost the light).

  Knit Progress

I'm not sure I'll add the pompom to the top of the hat which is otherwise finished–I'm thinking about making some icord and using it to tie the sides together at the top of the hat.

I may not make the fingerless mittens because it looks like it will take twice as much yarn to finish the cowl than the amount listed in the pattern.   (Don't you hate when that happens ... and you don't have any more yarn to account for the difference?)

It's what's on my needles today. Follow the link to the post on Patchwork Times to see what others are knitting.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Starting things ...

I made a trip to a local new-to-me fabric store yesterday and came home with the beginnings of two projects.

A tea towel for Victoria's Tea Towel challenge on 15 Minutes of Play. 

Sophie's Tea Towel

(After a couple weeks of looking for an interesting vintage tea towel in resale shops, I settled for this new one, based on a vintage design)

Some striped fabrics for my piece for the All About Me blog hop. 


These textiles are the inspiration for these two projects.  What comes first for you?  The design idea or fabrics that whisper, "use me?"

Monday, February 04, 2013

Not the Update I'd Planned

I'm waiting for a tow ... 150 miles from home.

I'm thankful someone finally stopped--he has a cell phone booster in his truck and thought I might need it.

Cell service was almost non-existent.  It took getting out of the care and walking around a bit to find a signal.

(It 's kind of incredible how many cars and trucks did not stop to help the old lady on the side if the road.)

Two hours later someone else stopped to ask if I needed help.  Turns out he owns a AAA tow company in the next town.  He asked, "Why didn't they call me?"   I wondered the same thing.  I waited three hours for someone who was two hours away.  AAA told me it would be a 45 minute wait.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, February 01, 2013

The Perennial UFO

This is an old photo, but that's OK, since no progress has been made since I last admired these blocks.

Whenever February rolls around, I am motivated to pull it out and put it up on the wall and work on it ... and yet it remains unfinished.

  The idea 

The word blocks were won in the Block Lotto three years ago. The wonky rose blocks were made by me and others from the block lotto community to help me get this quilt together and yet I haven't been able to make it happen . . . yet.

A Lovely Year of Finishes This is my February choice for a Lovely Year of Finishes, organized
by Melissa of Sew Bittersweet Designs and Shana of Fiber of All Sorts.

It's an ambitious choice for me–I have some other commitments for February that will also have to be finished, but ... I'm up for the challenge.

Low-Volume Love for the Block Lotto

Low Volume String HeartsI often use the Block Lotto as a place to try ideas in a small way–making a few blocks, with no commitment to do anything with them (unless, of course, one happen to win a set in the drawing at the end of the month.)

This month, we're making string-pieced fabric and creating low-volume string heart blocks (6 by 9-inches, finished size).

Defining guidelines for the block lotto is the most challenging when I'm trying to describe to the quilter something possibly new and how to make their own design decision for their blocks. I never worked harder than during our year of liberated quilting ... and so it was this month with the concept of "low volume quilts."

I did a little research (with the help of google image search and flickr) and went looking for examples. I started a gallery on Flickr to capture them.

Follow the links underneath the mosaic for original photos and credits.

  photos of some Low Volume quilts found on Flicker

1. Low Volume Quilt, 2. Low volume quilting, 3. Low Volume quilt, 4. low volume quilt, 5. scrappy low volume start, 6. [workinprogress], 7. Low volume log cabin detail, 8. another close up, 9. low volume quilt- full front

Looking for examples, choosing fabrics and creating low-volume blocks was useful practice for me.  I may never make a quilt entirely from low-volume fabrics, but I definitely see some low-volume scrappy backgrounds in combination with other design elements in my quilting future.  As always, I hope others make the blocks and have an interesting experience, too, but I know that only time will tell.

String Heart Block Pattern Cover Image
You can download print-friendly directions for choosing the fabrics and making the String Heart block by clicking the pattern cover image.  It's also available from the Freebies page on this blog.

You can find complete guidelines for the February 2013 Block Lotto here:

Low Volume Love in February

If you are feeling some low-volume love, come play with us.

Join me on the Block Lotto Blog

Joining the party on Confessions of a Fabric Addict to celebrate getting it all done in time for the block lotto.

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