Sunday, February 21, 2021

pq 12.4 and much progress on one stick

I have been sewing away like a madwoman lately.  I've still been taking breaks to feed my hubby and sleep and such, so it's been worse, but today I was happy to throw some stuff in the crock pot for dinner and wander away with no guilt.  (I can only get away with about one crock pot meal a week, or the hubby gets suspicious!)

First up, though not necessarily in order of events, is the Project Quilting prompt for the week: Snail's Trail.  My very first quilt project, 20-odd years ago, was this pattern.  Other than a few sampler blocks, I have not tried this since.  And to be honest, I was not the one sewing on that first project.  My mom was.  I was in charge of the design floor and un-sewing.  Since, as any of you who have attempted this block, know that is simply a part of the construction.

So, needless to say, I was not terribly thrilled with this idea.  But I perused Pinterest a bit in the first few evenings, while the hubby was watching garbage TV, but wanted me to spend time with him.  I found a few ideas, but nothing that really grabbed me.  So instead, I grabbed some scraps out of the trash bin, from the stick project, and started sewing.  No pattern, just winging it.  Might as well use trash in case it goes poorly, right?  And I want it small.

First, I wasn't paying attention and ran out of the lighter fabric.  Thankfully, the fabric you can see more of (pilfered from the actual stash) blended nicely and I didn't mind wasting a bit as I played.

Then, they turned out way larger than I imagined.  I mean, finishing at 3" isn't huge or anything, but I had envisioned these tiny blocks that would come together as a foursome and make a cute little pincushion.  Well.  A 6" pincushion is hardly what one would call tiny.  Nor is it what one might generally want, unless maybe you need a weapon.  And I didn't want to use ALL of my crushed walnut shells on this one project.  (I mean, I bought the big bag at the pet store, thereby saving a chunk of change, but still.  It's dangerous to send me into pet stores.  There are adoptable cats there.  And many, many cat toys.  Nearly as bad as a bookstore.)

On to plan B.  Or maybe plan A-1?

A cute little single block pincushion.  That, when you blow it up this huge on my computer screen, does not make my quilting look very good.  Not that it was all that grand to start with.

This technically satisfies the PQ challenge rules, but I still have three blocks left.  I went back to the monster stick project for a while, but felt, after another milestone (whatever it was...they're all blurry right now because I'm trying to forget all the work so I can enjoy the quilt when it eventually gets finished and not just stare in horror about the month I lost), I could take a day to play and make a mini-runner with the remaining blocks!

I used some scrap binding that has been living on the scrap binding shelf for, um, 10 years?  I made this quilt for my friend Krystal when she got married.  (Oh look, it's in the category "quilts made before 2010" so it's been more than 10 years!)  I made binding for the quilt and apparently miscalculated because I have enough left over to go around the earth about two times.  It doesn't lend itself well to many scrap projects, even, so there it sits.  Well, it looks pretty good here, so I'm using it.  If you don't like it, I will gladly send you the little piece and you can rip off the offending binding and sew on something else.  You don't even have to send it back.

Anyways, that gave me two offerings for the challenge, and I'm satisfied.  Also, another pincushion, which is funny.  Maybe only to me, but I don't care if you're not laughing.  It wouldn't be the first time.

Also on my day to play, I decided I needed to make some masks.  Remember a few weeks ago when I made some for my coworker Stefanie?  Okay, maybe you didn't know they were for Stefanie because I didn't mention her name.  But they were.  Anyways, one had daisies.  I made one for myself out of that fabric, too, because it was pretty and I wanted it and I'm making them, so I can do whatever I want.

She wore it to work and my other female coworker who I made masks for a few weeks before that, Tara (who I also probably did not tell you her name), saw it and went "WHAT?"  Tara really likes daisies.  Tara was not happy she did not have a mask with daisies.  I should have just made an extra mask for Tara when I made the first ones.  Silly Katie.  Guess what else I did on my play day?  Yeah.

But it started with these:

I mean, if you've got St. Patrick's Day fabrics in your stash and you know how to make masks, what other excuse do you need to make St. Patrick's Day masks?

I made an extra of the clovers, just in case.  Tara got one, too.  And I made one for me, obviously.  Tara got her masks today and she was so excited.  And then she showed me her new smartwatch band that has daisies all over it.  And they think I'm crazy because I have four cats.

So now you're probably all excited about seeing the monster quilt that is taking over my life, right?  I mean, I've alluded to it a few times already.  And last week it was still in a lot of pieces.  You hadn't even seen all the pieces yet!  I counted 50 pieces in each block.  I probably shouldn't have counted, but hindsight...

First, though, I'd like to share with you a fun photo.  I've got varying sizes of spools of thread.  They come from a variety of stores, but since my machine does quite nicely with Coats and Clark, that is what they all are.  (With exception when I need a specific color for hand sewing and just can't find quite a match in that brand.)  The larger spools are either 400 yards or 500 yards.  And since this monster has chewed through one spool of each so far, I thought you'd like to see a comparison of the thickness of the cores.  Maybe you don't, but I'm putting it here anyways.

It seems crazy that it looks so different, but there you go.  (And yes, there is still a bit of thread on the 400 yard spool.  Fear not, I sewed that right off in about 5 minutes, and have moved on to another spool.  Yes, a third spool for one quilt.  See piece count above.)

I last left you with my sewing of the second and third quarters of the blocks.  I finished all 128 of those and placed two lefties and two righties on the floor in the conformation they will be in in the finished quilt.

Brighter than the first quarter blocks, but not as visually interesting.  But trust me, it gets better.

Next up was the final quarter.  This one required strip piecing and subcutting.  Easier than the templates and their infernal need for matching and lining up just so, but still labor intensive.

Finn helped.

I sewed and sewed and cut and cut and took no photos, aside from this one.  Not even of the quarters all alone when they were finished.  Making sets of 64 of anything gets exhausting and takes hours at a stretch, so I was just glad to be done with each milestone.

Okay, well, I tried to take a photo of just these quarters, but Toby had other ideas.  His backside needed cleaning.  This seems like a good spot. I mean, our house only has like 8 other rooms and a fair amount of floor space, so obviously this is the one.

Again, not much compared to the first set, but still pretty, right?  (Toby handsomes things up nicely, so I suppose he saved the day.)

Wanna see all four quarters together?  This is where the quilt spoilers start to happen, but I think you all can handle this.  You've been waiting.

This is actually four blocks (or 16 quadrants) together.  A "block" per the pattern is a quarter of the star.

And this is where I started to relax.  Though the matching of seams is yet to challenge me, the fabrics and colors all look pretty nice.  The original had orange and pink next to each other, which was my biggest fear.  I'm not entirely sure I would do this again, but it's not awful.  And that bright pink really pops all by itself, so I think it works out okay.

I mocked up a whole quilt by making a collage of these photos, but I'm going to wait to reveal the whole quilt when it's a whole quilt.  So you gotta wait a bit longer.

Here the seams start getting longer as a whole.  It took hours to get the first two quadrants sewn to one another...

...and hours more to get the second two done.  Today I tackled the longest of the seams so far: sewing the two halves to one another.  It literally took over 3 hours to sew and press them all!  (Remember, I'm still at 64 pieces - but am happy to know that from here on out, the count of parts gets smaller, even if the seam length gets longer.)

Before I pressed them, I noticed how pretty they looked from the side, all stacked up.

The other side wasn't as pretty, so I'll not bore you with that photo.

I spun all my center seams and stacked the blocks up neatly on the cutting table next to my ironing board and that stack...

...literally 6 inches tall.  I didn't smoosh them down at all, so they're a little fluffy here, but this is insane.  I literally made half a foot of blocks.  Wow me!

And that is where I stand exactly at this moment.  Taking a bit of a break before I head back up to sew these to each other.  Very excited that the end of this quilt is imminent.  I'm going to make it by the end of the month, barring any oddball problems.  I think.

Lately, though, Finn has been the oddball...

...there is a cat tree that stands about 5 feet tall about a foot away from these built-in cabinets in my sewing room.  He decided, after throwing the things hanging from the knob to the floor and pulling the door open wider (I hadn't latched it last time I raided the stash), he would launch himself, not onto the nearest shelf, but onto the TOP shelf.  At the ceiling.  And then burrow through the fabrics (there was some room, but still...) into the other side.  And poke his silly face out the middle door, which was also not latched, that I opened to see what he was doing.

This spot was obviously not doing it for him, so he burrowed back... the original side where he jumped up, and took a 30 minute snooze.  And then mewed pathetically when he decided he wanted down.  He wasn't sure how to do it.  The top of that cat tree was so far away now.  I went to help him (because I'm a good cat mom like that), but before I got there he basically belly flopped onto the cat tree top.  He is a clumsy oaf and basically belly flops his way through life (in some ways more literally than others), but he survived and was mad at me the following day when the doors were latched and his efforts to throw things on the floor to open them failed.  (Things still went on the floor, just the doors stayed shut.  Poor, pathetic, mistreated little goober.)

So I guess having a second chair up there is not good enough any more.  It's the stash or bust.

(I am surprised he didn't throw any fabric down.  He may have made it a bit messier, but it all stayed up.)

And that, folks, is the better part of my week.  (No one wants to hear my works stories and the book I'm reading isn't all that good, so...)

Time to go stir the beef stew!

Happy quilting,

PS  You can thank my boss for the sarcasm today.  We had a staff meeting at 8am, where we all had to sit quietly and hear all the company mission and values and ideas that we've been hearing since the beginning of time AGAIN.  And we got to take home the foldable lawn chair we sat in.  There weren't even cookies.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

just one project this week

I feel as though many of my last posts have had so many things going on...well, they have...and this one might seem lacking as a result.  But I have quilty progress to share, so I will forge ahead!

When I last left you, I was still in the process of cutting pieces for the February stick of making a quilt using paper templates.  I finished cutting that evening, but the following day, my abs hurt!  Who knew quilting was so aerobic?  It made the following trimmings more painful to create, but the trimming of half square triangles made just a touch oversize was necessary, so I worked through the pain.

They look so pretty here, though the white is actually a grey closer in color to my cutting mat.  It's a pretty combination and maybe fuel for a future project?  But I must focus.  This quilt has many, many, many, many pieces and if I'm to not end up with a UFO at the end of the month, I must keep sewing!

I didn't take a ton of photos, but a few in progress.  The half square triangles were next sewn to squares...

And these sewn to one another to complete the first quarters of the first quarters!

 (My how the colors change depending on lighting - the first photo is much more true in color.)
This is how these will eventually touch each other in the final layout, but for now they will be included in the corner of single blocks.  They don't look like much, but just wait!

Then came the task of incorporating these into the actual block quarter.  Lots more seams and lots more pressing!

That brightened them up quite a bit, didn't it?  These are one full quarter of the larger block, that when rotated will give the appearance of stars.  But we can lay a few out in the floor to see what that will be, right?

Sometimes that is necessary to fortify ones resolve to continue sewing.  And sewing and sewing and sewing and sewing and sewing.

(Did I mention there are 64 blocks in this quilt?  So everything needs to be repeated at least 64 times.  It gets tedious to say the least.)

Next up were the two quarters, mirror images of each other, using the template-cut pieces.  I remember from my test block that the first set was the worst and nearly made me give up.  But with just the one block, I was determined to keep going and at least finish the test, and found the remaining pieces to be much more reasonable.

Again, I didn't take photos of all the steps.  I was trying to be good and focus on sewing, and minimize distractions.  Sometimes it worked better than others.  These were completed later last night and I am surprised at how well the purples came out.  I didn't edit it for color at all..but I apologize for my obnoxious ironing board cover.  It looked like a better idea in the package...and also looks worse here than in reality.  The white is actually most places...

Today I finished sewing the last of the template pieces to each other and am able to start sewing those units to each other.  If that makes any sense.

And, as I finished up pressing these, I placed them where they will eventually be in the quarters and snapped a photo.  (And now realize the top portion of this square did not get ANY photos!)

Since there are two quarters like this, every single seam in these means I sew 128 of them.  I am doing one seam at a time, and the monotony of it gets discouraging.  But then I see something like this, where they're starting to come together, and I get excited again.

I used up an entire, 500 yard, spool of thread on this today.  Well, no, I didn't use it all today, I finished it today.  I believe it was nearly a full spool, if not truly full, when I started at the beginning of this quilt.  And I don't think I'm even halfway done!  The last quarter starts with strip piecing, so these quarters are likely the hardest, but I still have much to do.  I've been focused, but also allowing myself breaks between each seam-set of pieces, even if it is to do something like clean a bathroom or make dinner.  (Those things need done too, though, so I guess they're a good break?)

The next Project Quilting prompt has been released.  I thought that was next week?  My how time flies, but I'll be contemplating that in the coming days.  I have a few sparks of ideas, but right now I just want this particular set of quarters done.

In cat news, Miss Gabby is back to herself.  She and Toby are working out their relationship and both seem to be doing better with each other.  (Though the fight that they decided to have on my bed at 7am today scared the daylights out of me...I have a few quilts piled on the bed, so I just pulled my head under to stay safe!  Quilts have so many uses!)

You can see Gabby here, obviously working hard to make sure all my points are perfect!

(I cropped out her shaved belly because the poor thing has endured enough that the world doesn't need to see that too!)

That chair and ottoman are a popular place to help...

...I call these my "snoozervisers" because they were definitely both snoozing on the job!

Freddie is absent this week from photos.  He's been playing Mr. Aloof lately, except in the bathroom, where he waits for me to shower and then expects me to brush him after I brush my own hair.  He knows the routine and gets excited when he knows it is his turn.  But it's hilarious because before he really knew the routine, he would jump up on the counter when my hubby went in there, so the hubby tried to brush him.  And got mad.  The hubby was doing it wrong.  Anyone who has ever had a cat knows exactly how this happens...

And with that, I'm off to get a turkey breast started cooking in the oven.  I'm making a version of Thanksgiving dinner for Valentine's Day.  All stuff the hubby likes, and since eating out (inside) is sketchy (allowed here...for now...), I'm content to use my skills and prepare a good meal at home.  Hopefully in a year, we'll make reservations and have a nice dinner cooked by someone else in a much safer environment.  In the meantime, I'm thankful I have the skills and means to stay safe.

Happy quilting,

Sunday, February 7, 2021

pq 12.3 and sticks!

It's colder here than it has been in a year or more, but Miss Gabby is doing well (released from both her collar and isolation) and now that the wind has died down, the house doesn't feel so drafty that I just want to hide under quilts!

Regardless, I've been chipping away at quilty projects (though the desire to just hide under quilts with a flashlight and read books is very much present).

First up, as the title indicates, is Project Quilting.  The prompt this week was "Vacation" and my first thought, since I've kinda turned this into a quilted pincushion challenge, was little beach houses in pretty colors.  So I pulled down the bin of randomness...

...the bin that houses bits I'm not quite okay with getting rid of, but also not ready to chop into 1.5" squares for that bin (and also Freddie when he can get to it)...and found some fabrics.  And I winged it for a pattern and before I knew it, I had some houses!

It always looks so jarring before the seam allowances are taken in something this small - it's 2x4" or so, finished.  But I'm pretty pleased with this so far.  I quilted it quickly and sewed it into a pincushion - make sure you leave a large enough opening to TURN IT, not just fill it with whatever you're using...

If you look close, you can see I left the opening on the top and my stitching wasn't great.  I was struggling, but I'm okay with it.  We'll call it a learning experience, okay?  And I'm just gonna stick pins into it anyways.

With that out of the way, I could procrastinate the February sticks by sewing together the shirt pieces for the January sticks project of the quilt made from shirts!  It ended up short, but I found enough to make it just big enough.

Since the sewn-together back looks much like the not-sewn-together back from my last post, I'll just share with you my method to make sure I load this in the correct orientation.  This is to make sure the side that is a bit longer ends up on the leaders, as I can work with less on the edges.  It will still be close, but I can do this!

And if we're procrastinating, why not share the actual, finished Bringing Home the Christmas Tree quilt?  I finished hand-sewing down the binding and took it out for photos a few days ago.  Right before another predicted snow storm and the week and a half of single-digit-average temps!

And a quick shot of the quilting.  I told you I did swoopy swirls, so here you go!

I'm excited to have this one done and with it having gone so well, I was even tempted to quilt the shirts quilt.  Until I went to order thread and found that a lot of the more neutral colors in the thread I like are out of stock.  So I guess I'll hang onto it for a little longer to make sure the quilts actually on my list get done first.  I'm good at excuses!

With all that done, I couldn't procrastinate any longer, and I moved on to the sticks I pulled (blindly, randomly) for February:

Oh boy did I roll my eyes at the quilt using paper templates.  Remember the star-ish quilt I bought 1000 yards of fabric for last year and then abandoned it because of templates and a bajillion pieces?  Yeah, that was the one I had in mind.  So for days I tossed it around, trying to figure out ANY other quilt I had on my bucket list that could be substituted.

In the meantime, I pulled out what I remembered to be half square triangles in pink and white.

Oh yeah, I remember they were screaming to be made into quarter square triangles now!  Doesn't matter, they need to be used, so I started looking online for ideas and inspiration.  And would you believe that there is very little when you look for "quarter square triangles" other than how to make them?  (And about a zillion mis-labeled other options.)

Eventually I settled on stars and got busy trimming those that still needed it.  Then came the decision about centers.  I have more white, but would the centers look good with white or should they have a color?

To the stash!

Though a little more on the mauve side of things, this actually looked pretty nice with the other fabrics.  But I did giggle some when I saw the date on the selvedge!  I think I got this in a scrap bag from another quilter, because I know I haven't been buying fabric this long (I shared my mom's for many years...), but it felt good to use a good bit of it up no less.

See what I mean?  The star points kinda brighten it up and bring out the less-mauvey tones.

On to sashing?  Do I have enough of the old print?  If I piece some smaller pieces, you bet!

But definitely not enough for the border.  What else does the stash offer?  I don't have a lot in the way of candy pinks.  I've made a few scrappy pink quilts and it seems I lean towards the middle ground on that color.  Not to fear.  I brought out some wilder ones and some more questionable ones.  What did I settle on?

The one I honestly thought would go the least.  But once I got it down, the lighter flowers blended nicely with the mauvey tones and the darker pink, though not a match, seemed to play nicely with the others.  Or nice enough.

So, one stick down!  This will finish about 23x30, so eventually it will be a dolly quilt.

Moving on, I've been researching the watercolor pencils some and the more I learn, the less confident I feel.  I'm not very good at drawing things and the things looking like the things I intended them to be.  So I'm workign up the courage there.  And if it looks awful...well, I've tried something new.  Best case I'll like it and be good at it and do more.

And I'm procrastinating the longarming assignment.  Not just because of the thread situation.  But I do have some ideas how to quilt this one, too.  I just need to get to the point ot being mentally ready.  Because that high from the last quilt faded.

So that leaves me with the paper templates.


I decided to make a test block, using bits from my stash.  All those points to match and fussy templates has me worried.  I did a little template work when I made the Patchwork City top, but I struggled there, and this pattern calls for cutting 128 or 256 of a single template in a single color sometimes.  Can I do that?

I started cutting and though it took a while, I finally had a single block cut.  (A few pieces are missing here, as I made them using the 2-at-a-time half square triangles, despite pattern instructions.)

As you can see, sweet Gabby wasted no time in getting back to work in the sewing room.  I even caught her, while I was sewing at the machine, inspecting the thread.  She got a stern talking-to for that choice!

Most of the points that needed to match did so nicely.  I was careful and making only one block, not mass-production, allowed me to be more careful.  Or, well, prompted me.  You know how you get sewing and know you have to make 4,000 of something and you start getting a little sloppy...

It doesn't look like much here, but when you combine four blocks, rotating them properly, you get an orange star from the triangles.  Or a plus-like design from the greens.

Here began the big dilemma.  I've bought all this gorgeous fabric that I absolutely love.  And the pattern is bright in a gaudy way, but I love the pattern, too.  But I swapped some colors out of necessity (why can't they just make some nice greens in more than the one shade?) and I'm still unsure.  This is a big undertaking.  The cutting alone is a big mess.

So I stalled a few days.  Yesterday I had to work, so that bought me about 9 hours of guilt-free procrastination.  And this morning, chores gave me another hour or so.

But then it was time to make a decision.  I'd been waffling back and forth, telling myself if I get it started this month, I can work on it periodically throughout the year.  Or have my first UFO of 2021.  But what if it is ugly?  What if I absolutely hate it and all those fabrics I am so smitten with (I really am - many of them I'd love to buy the bolt and just put it on a shelf and never, ever cut it.  Ever.) are wasted.  I know some of you will say they're not wasted if I've tried, but they're SO! PRETTY!

Oh, I should go find a photo...hang on...

Those dandelion-ish prints?  And that purple?  And I love me a good grey.  ACK!

Anyways, this morning, after my chores and some kitten loves, I decided I would do this.  I have 18 days left in the month.  I can make a dent.

But first I reviewed a technique my blogging buddy Joanne shared a few months back about cutting using paper templates.  She outlines it really well in the blog post I've linked to, so I'll just show you my pretty photo of not actually cutting anything yet!

It works really, really well!  And bonus for her mentioning that if you need reversed pieces, just cut it two layers and there you go!  Of course, math is hard for me (apparently) when reversing things, so I may have had to go back and cut a second set once or twice...

I cut and cut and then said I would take a break...

There are nine fabrics in all and I decided at four to take a break.

Then Finn needed some snuggles and my mom started texting, so the break I thought I was going to take (to write this blog post), ended up turning into a non-blog break and me needing the lint roller because despite the crazy low temperatures, Finn is shedding like it is midsummer.

Might as well cut a little more, right?

Two more colors done and it was time for a real break.  I need to make sure I can function tomorrow and the next color has a LOT of pieces.  My poor arms!  I hope to get the cutting finished tonight and should get back to it soon, while the sun is shining.  (Yes, sun is shining, but that is NOT making it much warmer outside!)

And that is all for the quilty news.

Finn, though, needs you to know he loves carrots...

I was making dinner the other night and working on the other side of the kitchen, chopping carrots I'd already cleaned and heard a noise.  He had jumped up on the counter (which he rarely does) and was rubbing his face all over the bag and chewing on it a little.  He's done this with a bag of apples, too.  What do they put in the plastic bags produce is sold in?  This cat is so silly and I love him so much.

And Miss Gabby has a glamour shot to share, too...

This was before the release, but I was letting her have a little snuggle time without the cone of shame.  She snuggled me like mad the days she was kept in the bedroom, but is much more aloof now.  (You can see where her arms were shaved for IVs at the vet, but it is already starting to grow back, as is her very bare belly, but I've agreed to not show those embarasing photos to strangers.)

Time to get back to the cutting!  If I can get the cutting done tonight, I can start power sewing tomorrow!

Happy quilting,

Sunday, January 31, 2021

month end - it's been a doozy!

 It's been nearly two weeks since I last posted, but it's been quite a ride.  I'll start with the bad news first.

Gabby had major surgery.

This belly is no longer fluffy, but instead sports about a 7-inch scar.  She ate thread.  Enough that it was wrapped around her tongue and had worked its way through and was almost coming out the other end.  It happened last week either Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.  After throwing up quite a few times and refusing food, she went to the emergency vet at 1am Friday.  By noon Friday, the thread had been removed and she was recovering.  A week ago today, she came home.  She is wearing an inflatable cone of shame, but eating and snuggling like a champ.  She is confined to my bedroom with food and water and cat beds and everything a cat might want that cannot leave just the one room.

Here she is, enjoying a snuggle minus the cone.  As she recovers, she is more feisty about getting it back on, so the cone-free snuggles have come to an end.  She needs to leave the incision alone so it can heal, but it is healing nicely.

What could have been a very complicated, much more expensive, surgery wasn't, probably because I was paying attention to her change in behavior.  But I can tell you now that I will never leave my sewing machine threaded and unattended again.  I don't think she did it on purpose - I think she was rowdying around the room and got tangled - but I don't want to give her that chance again.  Or any other cat.

A positive is that she seems to be much more trusting and snuggly towards me.  We'll see how that goes in another few days when she is allowed to roam more of the house!

With all this going on, sewing did not take precedence, but there was some sewing before and, with the hubby taking some shifts to just hang out (or nap) in the bedroom with her, and with her healing going well, I have had time to sew since.

Since this is the end of the month today, and the last day for my self-challenge with the January sticks, how about a review of where I stand?

These were my "assignments" for the month.  I'll just go in the order they appear here.

First up, the quilt using old shirts.  If you remember, very early in the month, I hit the jackpot on shirts and bought fourteen.  I was excited, so plugged away at deconstructing and cutting and making blocks.  I think were I last left you, the blocks were finished and a layout needed to be determined.

I had help...

Once I was satisfied with the layout, I picked them up carefully and started sewing.

This is where I should have really figured out something was wrong with Gabby.  She is curled up in the hallway, not on the project.  I kinda knew something was going on, but hoped it was just a bug and she'd be right as rain the next day.  Boy was I wrong!

Anyways, I kept sewing, knowing there was little I could do with the sick kitty (sometimes you just need to wait it out a day or so) and had a top before long.  It took until today, though, to get that top photographed!

I like it, but I don't think I'll be making another from these fabrics.  My machine was struggling with the thicker seams at corners and skipping stitches.  I think the variety of fabrics and weaves and such were just too much.  I tried changing needles, but that actually made it worse (new needle did nothing, jeans needle and microtex needles were worse). I really hope the industrial-ness of my longarm will handle this better.

Today, since I decided I don't want the leftover fabrics either, and since I knew I had some larger pieces, I cut them up to make a back.  Cutting them 12.5" wide and whatever length I could get, I cleared the design floor when the hubby went up for a nap with Gabby, and have this to sew together now!

Once this is together, I'll reassess if it is large enough.  I have some smaller pieces left, but also may just frame it in with a solid to get it larger enough for the longarm.  But since my goal was to finish just the top, I'm not worried about that just yet.  I mean, I'd like to put it away with an adequate back, but longarming isn't on the agenda for this one.

So stick #1 - check!

Next up is longarming the cars and trees (actually called Bringing Home the Christmas Tree from Lori Holt's book "Vintage Christmas") quilt.

With everything going on, I more or less abandoned the idea of getting this one done.  Since it was the last one to be started (and not yet started), I made my peace with it remaining undone.  Perhaps next month?  I wasn't going to stress about it.  I had better/worse things to worry about.

But as I was lounging in bed Friday night, realizing Gabby is improving steadily, and knowing the hubby will take shifts hanging out with her (I don't think we need to be there all the time, but I also don't want to leave her locked in there for 12 hours straight with no human contact if we can help it!), I decided to make a go of it.

Saturday I started by piecing the back fabric...

Of course, I had help.  I hadn't even gotten started sewing and Finn jumped right in.  Here I am winding up the selvedge after trimming and he was REALLY helping.  (He's such a good boy!)

I wasn't sure how far along I would get, or if longarming would even happen on Saturday (yesterday), but I just kept plugging along.  If I had to leave it overnight to finish in the morning, so be it.

One of the advantages of spending too much time snuggled in bed is you get a chance to think about quilt motifs.  I had decided to do some swoopy swirls over the whole quilt.  Because custom would be insane and and overall pattern seems just fine on something this busy.

It took a LOT of thread.  Like a whole bobbin at each pass.  Six passes.  Well, that last one was a skinny one, so less bobbin, but six bobbins.  And I ran out of white thread on top on that last pass.  With a 6-inch by about 50-inch section left to go, I switched to a whiter off-white, and I'm going to guess that no one is going to notice.  I had my nose right in there and couldn't!

But, yes, you read that right.  I finished longarming!  It took about 5 hours total, but I did take a few longer breaks every time I rolled it because my elbow was giving me trouble.  Getting it stretched out and relaxed for a few minutes between rows was needed.  (But I kept busy - folding laundry, feeding cats...)

And then, after a late dinner, I used the trimmings from the back and made and attached binding!  This morning, I camped out on the couch in my bedroom, tablet set up next to me to stream some Gilmore Girls, and Gabby and I started the hand-sewing part of binding.  I got about a third done when the hubby announced his desire to take a nap with Gabby.  So I vacated and baked some peanut butter cookies.  And snagged this photo:

(And now it is drying out because it not only got snow on the bottom, but fell off the clothesline into the snow - pins holding the binding down and all...!)

I'm pretty excited that this is this close to finished.  And happy to check off another stick!

The third stick is the Lilipopo-style embroidery.  I've teased you with this in the past when it was partially finished.  It has been done for a while, but I just haven't been back to the blog to share the finish.

I have no idea what I will do with this, but it is cute and I'll figure out something.  It was a learning experience and I now own reading glasses to be able to see this kind of work better, but I'm glad I did it and will not shy away from doing more in the future if I find reason.

Stick #3 - check!

And lastly was the bag from the closet.  Some semi-coordinated fabrics gifted to me and forgotten.  There are more bags (different fabrics), and since I have fewer sticks of this variety, it will be recycled to do another project or three in the future.  But let's get to the project!

I last left you with tales of more blocks to construct, but seem to have only this one photo of six.  Perhaps these are the last six?

The finish of these coincided with the trip to the emergency vet, so this project stalled out most obviously.  The docs were super amazing at keeping me in the loop about what was happening, but there was still the waiting game.  Surgery took two hours, and I'm not going to rush that...yet you still wait by the phone that whole time, knowing no news is good news, but also hoping to hear all is well sooner than two hours...

But in an attempt to keep myself from totally panicking, I worked on a layout.

The boys knew something was up, so they jumped in to help...

This one took a while because, though every block is a different combination, there are a lot of repeated fabrics.  Eventually I called it good enough and picked it up.

I started sewing it a few days later, but didn't have the focus needed.  The original didn't have sashing, so that was my plan, but after failing to get points to line up well and generally struggling to keep my mind on what I was doing, I set it aside, only 5 blocks sewn to one another, and again made peace with it.

But as news of Gabby continued to be good, and her return home proved easier than anticipated (remember, she was feral three and a half years ago when she came to us as a kitten, and she still has tendencies in that direction), my ability to focus improved.  And again, with the hubby being willing to take snuggle shifts, I was even more able to think about other things.

And what I thought about was sashing.  These are traditional quilt colors.  And though I still don't know the name of the block, it is a traditional quilt block.  And tradition mandates sashing and cornerstones.  I had some marbled darker brown in my stash that, while I don't like it much, is perfect for this project.  So I dug it out and started cutting.  That proved to be interesting, as it was the fabric I used for the frame on my "Under the Microscope" quilt.  So it had a donut-shaped piece and another that the donut was cut from.  But I managed to get enough for all the sashing!

And enough for an outer border.  And enough for binding!  And there is a little left, though the pieces are rather triangular and not very large.

Toby is helping.  He, too, is taking on some of Gabby's duties in her absence.  (Though to be honest, I took these rows, as they were finished, and stretched them across the floor in my bedroom, where Gabby is hanging out, to give her a chance to inspect them!)

Today the outer borders went on and I have another finished top!

It's about 36x45", but since I made the sashing pieces finish at 3/4", and math is hard, I'm estimating.  I have no idea what I will do with this because it is SO not me, but the bag is out of the closet and I used up all but some marbled blue that did not go at all, despite the strips being cut to match.  The strips are in my string bin and the squares were trimmed down to go into my 2.5" square stash.  Also, I reduced my actual stash, using it for backgrounds and the sashing/border fabrics!  This one is a true win.

And stick #4 - check!

I got all the sticks done!

Considering all the past two weeks have thrown at me, I'm surprised, but also very happy.  Now I can enter into a new month with nothing hanging over my head.  Being a short month, not having to play catch-up is a good thing.

But this is not all I did these last two weeks!

Remember how I made some Valentine masks a few weeks back, and took them to share with coworkers?  Well, one of the coworkers asked this past week if she could "order" more.  Of course!  I let her select some fabrics from a batch of ten and got busy sewing.

These are the insides - and I may have cut one more for myself from one of the cooler fabrics...

Toby also got to work.

I sent her this photo with the disclaimer that these masks may or may not contain cat hair.  As hard as I try, it's a fact of life when you have four fur-kids.

And then they were done!

Since I haven't been at work since Wednesday (that may be a scheduling flaw, but I'm NOT complaining to have five days in a row off!), these are still waiting to go to her, but she was excited to know they were being made.  And I'm excited to give her something that she finds comfortable that will also help keep her safe.

(I made one of the grey and yellow daisy fabric for me too, if you were wondering.)

So that has been my two weeks.  More or less.  There have been meals cooked and cookies baked and laundry washed and all that stuff, too, but I'm sure you're not here for THAT boring stuff, so we'll just glide right over that.

Freddie wants you to know, though, that he has been helping.

And this is where the older boys (not that any are THAT old, but they're older than Toby) have been spending a lot of time lately:

Toby is much less predictable, but also more active.  These two are just happily sunning themselves whenever the winter sun manages to peek through the clouds.  Rare, but we all enjoy it.

I think my lighting has gone for more hand-binding with Gabby, so I guess once dinner is done, I will be reading.  I've been getting a lot of reading done, and it is something one can do while petting the convalescing cat, so I guess all is well in the world.

Happy quilting!