Monday, December 9, 2019

Linda's quilt

This quilt has been in the works for a while...  It started in late 2017 when I purchased Christmas fabrics after the holiday.  I proceeded to cut and sew said fabrics early in 2018, planning WAAAAY ahead to make a quilt for my hubby's aunt.

Aunt Linda hosts a family Christmas gathering every year.  She coordinates (with her oldest daughter) food and cookies and gift/gift exchanges AND cleans her house to accommodate us.  And, in the 20 years I've been going, had never been given anything special.  Yes, we say thank you, but sometimes you have to do something more.

So I decided that, for the 2018 party, she would get a quilt.  I (obviously) started early, planning ahead.  Giving myself plenty of time to procrastinate.  And time to either forget to take photos...or maybe they were taken and, in purging my phone camera, were deleted before transfer?

Anyways, this quilt was slated to be given in December of 2018.  But then tragedy struck.  Her husband passed away (Uncle Ernie, an always-smiling goofball that everyone loved) suddenly and unexpectedly in March of that year.  While I never saw the two of them together much, I know her world was shattered.  We were all in shock.

And as we were just starting to adapt to this new normal, one day shy of a month later tragedy struck again.  Uncle Rick, Ernie's younger brother, had an accident at home, resulting in 3rd degree burns over a good portion of his body.  After being in the hospital for a week, rallying and giving us all hope, he also passed away.  His wife, Annie, was dumbstruck.  We all were.

Two uncles, both in their early 60's, gone just like that.  A month apart.

As the summer wore on, Annie and Linda attended a few family gatherings at my in-laws (their house is always a popular hangout for bonfires in the summer), but I could see both were struggling with their losses, Linda it seemed more than Annie.  But we all grieve in our own way and I can never know what either was thinking.

My hubby and I had hopes that there would be a family Christmas, but it did not happen.  And we all understood, sad as we were.  So we debated contacting Linda and giving her the quilt anyways, but never did.

This year, however, the tradition continued.  This past weekend, the family gathered for the usual routine, but Linda and her daughter opted for a neutral location and rented a church-turned-community-center nearby.  Every single one of the family members that have been regulars attended.  We didn't lose a single one - added an extra, in fact, as one of Annie's grandkids has had a little boy since we last met.  We ate good, family-favorite foods, had a fun gift exchange, and generally had a great time.  I expected a few tearful moments, but I think it was planned carefully to avoid those if we could.  But we knew there were two uncles missing.

And, before the festivities got too out of control, we gave Linda her quilt, thanking her for hosting for so many years and keeping the family together.

She is not a very expressive person, so I kept the presentation short and sweet, but she pulled me aside later and thanked me.  I told her she better use it!  I hope she does.

This photo is just the top.  I have no finished photo, but I quilted swirls over the whole quilt, using red thread because it was what I had that matched the best.

So this quilt has been a long time waiting to be shared, but until it was given, I wanted to make sure the secret was not let out.

And now for a few tidbits of what I have been working on the past week!

I bought fabric for a quilt that has been in long residence of the Closet of Shame:

There are both sides represented here, but I had a hard time getting the photo to show it well.  What was rolled onto the bolt as the "back" you can see in the lower portion of the photo.  The white area has a pinkish tinge and I think it works better with the quilt top, so I'll use it upside down.  But the remainder of this quilt will remain quiet for just a bit longer, as it is a secret project!

I purchased some fabric and made a pillowcase for my MSU-loving niece - this was too cute to pass up, even at the ridiculous price for officially licensed fabrics!

I completed three more blocks for the Little Miss Sawtooth quilt along.  Three more (two blocks, one will be doubled) to go - and that pattern is coming Friday!  I hope to be ready and can maybe even get that top done soon.  I would LOVE to have it finished in time to gift at Christmas, but we'll see how things go.  I told the boss I would pick up extra shifts, so I expect now that I have a looming deadline, she'll take me up on that!

Jada 1

Jada 2


I'm excited to be so close with blocks, but know the dreaded long seams are still to come!

Speaking of dreaded long seams, the blocks I started a few weeks ago to be my November charity quilt came out of hiding today!

I started out in the sewing room cutting pieces for sashing and sewing the pieced cornerstones.  I was up there almost 2 hours with no cat help.  I took the blocks out of the box to figure out a layout and within seconds, Gabby appeared out of nowhere and started helping.  (Apparently helping me take a blurry picture!)

From here I proceeded to sew these together.  In another few hours, with close supervision and occasional visits to demand ALL THE PETS, I had a top!

It looks a lot different, but Gabby is still in there.  She was chasing her (stubby) tail while I was trying to get a photo.  (Short as it is, she can still catch it!)  The quilt top still needs to be trimmed because some of the setting triangles are oversized and I need to decide if it will get a border or not.  The pattern calls for a black border and binding, but I feel like that stops the eye abruptly and don't much care for it.  I have enough green, but this is enough for today.

And finally, new kid Finn is settling in nicely...

...he is super snuggly and has started playing with his brother and sister.  They are still all adjusting to each other, but it is going better than I imagined.  He is learning to stay off the counters, eat his food at a normal pace and play with toys (I'm not sure he had them, or if he was just too much in survival mode at first to want to play).  He is currently reminding me it is nearing dinner time and also trying to lay on my hands as I type.  (Works okay until I have to add a photo and need to move my hand to use the mouse!)

I have to work a long shift tomorrow, but hope to get to the longarm later this week to finish up the quilt with the paisley back.  And maybe some other stuff, too.

Happy quilting,

Monday, December 2, 2019

getting back into the swing of things

I seem to go in spurts of sewing lately and the week of Thanksgiving I did little.  It didn't help that I was scheduled three days and picked up a fourth, plus a LOT going on for the holiday itself.

But I did manage to find time before the holiday to cut out the charity quilt to fulfill my November goal...

...cut out would be the part you need to focus on.  Because after this, I managed to pair them up for blocks and not much more before the month ended.

But I did start sewing on them the other day and got the first two done (they are done in pairs).

And then, over the last few days, pacing myself, I managed to make the remaining 14, finishing just a little while ago today.

These get set on point with square-in-a-square cornerstones and whatnot, but for now, the blocks are done.  The colors aren't great in that second photo, they are much more true in the first.  But this is what happens when it's nighttime so many hours each day - bad lighting!

I think these might stall out here for a bit, but they were in the way, so needed to be sewn before anything else could really happen.

Other projects include finishing binding and labeling quilts, quilting another quilt I've decided to liberate from the Closet of Shame, the next two blocks for the Little Miss Sawtooth quilt along and...

...a new kitten.

Meet Finn.  He is about 7 months old and previously belonged to my brother-in-law and his family.  Because they are bad pet parents, they decided he was too much work and let him live outdoors.  And then decided he could go live with my in-laws in a mechanics garage.  He is a housecat.  Neither of those choices were good ones.  So, Thanksgiving night, this guy came home with us.

Friday I had to work, but when I got home, he curled up in my lap as soon as I sat on the floor.  

Saturday I also had to work, but he found a quilt on a couch and flopped himself into it and fell fast asleep.

Sunday, the hubby had to work, so I had the evening to myself and I decided to work on quilt binding.  He plopped himself in my lap and made himself in the way.  He did not chase the pins or thread, but my arms ached from holding them at an unnatural angle while he sat between me and the quilt.

Today, he went to the vet to be tested (feline lukemia negative!!), get a few shots and a general exam.  Other than fleas (not a surprise), he is healthy and, once home, found the cat tree while I sewed.

The cat tree was shared.

Finn hisses at Freddie and Gabby hisses at Finn.  Otherwise, things are going fairly well.  Gabby was mad for a few days, but after putting food under the couch, upstairs, where she was hiding for three days, she finally realized Finn was staying and I wasn't neglecting her.  (Of course, when I go up to bed, she comes out from hiding and demands ALL the pets while I'm trying to sleep.  And if I don't comply, she scoops, with her adorable little feet, as much kitty litter as possible out of the litterbox onto the floor.  Until I give her a ball of paper.  Which she promptly shreds all over my bed.  I'm not sure which is worse to clean up, but they're all adjusting in their own way and it's going far better than it could have.)

And with that, I believe my dinner is nearly done (lasagna in the oven) and the hubby was just brought home from work by his mom and brother (not the one who abandoned the cat) because he is so exhausted he can't stay awake.  I'm worried about him, but aside from the emergency room am not sure what to's to hoping some rest tonight will help!

Happy quilting,

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

catching up

It's been two weeks since my last post.  Three?  Yep.  Three.

Two weeks ago, I worked a longer than average shift and, once chores were done, I was exhausted and decided to call it a night without blogging.  We have a new procedure for the truck that delivers merchandise once a week and it's been a little sticky getting used to it.  Also, it means my shifts on truck days (Tuesdays) are getting longer.  It's all good - new stuff always takes some adjustments - just getting there isn't always easy.

So I figured a week off would be no big deal.  And then last Monday morning, very early, my stomach became very unhappy.  I had a stomach bug and the only up side to that was seeing kitten Freddie puff up as big as he possibly could when I was using the toilet "wrong"...  Well, I guess there was another up side - Gabby, after seeing me spend Monday on the couch, decided to be more snuggly, so I had lots of love Tuesday when I was recovering with a dehydration/poor-posture-while-sleeping-on-the-couch monster headache.

And then, having been down for the count for two full days and a third of slow recovery, all while life was happening, I had to catch up.  Thankfully, after a round of chores tonight after a never-ending day at work today, I think I've finally made it!

So, with that story out of the way, I can show what I HAVE done, though it doesn't seem like much for this long!

First up, I have five more blocks for the Little Miss Sawtooth quilt along.  Two are duplicates, but for my quilt to be larger, I'm making two of some of the blocks I like better.

Isla 1 

Isla 2




I think there are four more blocks to go, but at least one of those needs to be doubled.  I'm getting closer, though, and these have been fun.

I mentioned in my last post that I was going to sew with my mom.  We had a fun day and I got this little quilt done, all but hand-binding, as well as a few other small projects.

It's only about 7" I think.  I have no idea what I'll do with it, but it's made from leftovers from my 100 blocks project - those lost corners that I can't bear to toss!

Remember Philip's Quilt?  In that post, I mentioned that it may not be Philip's quilt after all.  Turns out, I never got invited to the wedding (not a surprise), so it became a homeless quilt. Until last week.  I was laying on the couch, trying to think of something OTHER than the throbbing pain in my head, and this quilt popped in there.  No idea why.  And then, a few hours later, I was looking at facebook and one thing led to another and I decided I would donate this quilt to Saved by Zade, the cat rescue (and more) group that brought us Freddie.

I stole their logo and made this label.  And when I went to sew it on...before I'd even figured out the top or bottom or side...

...Gabby claimed it.  And took half a bath in/on it.

Not to worry, it WAS dropped off to the proper people and will be used to raise funds to help rescue and trap/neuter/release kitties as well as educate the public and whatever else they need.

And for those of you not wanting to click the link, this is an old photo of the quilt.  It hasn't changed, just the amount of snow on the ground!

Freddie does not want to be outdone, so he asked me to make sure you know he helps around the house, too.

He is very adept with the grocery unpacking.  He has also decided he likes to get on the counters when he knows I am opening cans of cat food.  As if his bowl is not across the room on the floor and I might accidentally feed him there on the counter.  He's my big dork.

No photo yet, but I have purchased and washed fabric to make another pillowcase.  I had purchased fabrics to make them for my nieces (an annual tradition on my side of the family) way back in September.  And I sewed them up fairly recently.  The flamingos with the Santa hats caught my eye and I knew it was going to be for the oldest.  And then, a few weeks ago, we found out she had run away from home to live with her boyfriend, a Navy boy stationed in Florida.  Now before you gasp, she is 21.  She finished high school and had a job, but was living at home and this plan was kept from her parents.  And the boyfriend she knew from the Christian school she graduated from is from a good family.  As far as my hubby and I are concerned, she is an adult and this decision is hers to make.  There are other details I will not drag out here, but we are happy for her - maybe a little jealous with all the snow and cold we've gotten recently...and will continue to experience for quite some time!

Anyways, the goal is to send her a Christmas package and I can't send a pillowcase for JUST her, right?  I mean, they may not be married yet, but I'm okay calling him part of the family even if I haven't met him...yet...  So I bought more fabric, a fairly generic holiday print, and will whip that up soon enough.

Finally, on the quilting front, these quilts I've been making lately for gifts are not going to quilt themselves (but wouldn't that be awesome?), so I fired up the longarm Thursday to get Jordan's quilt done.

This took forever.  The quilt is 90x90 and swirls take a long time.  And a lot of thread.  But I got it done, trimmed and the binding sewn down - the machine side.  It is waiting now for the hand-sewn side to be done, but until I can turn the television on to something I enjoy while I do that, it will wait...

Yesterday, instead of sewing the binding down while the hubby was at work, I decided I should quilt Adrian's quilt.  A few in-progress shots...

I went back and did loop-de-loops in the white/light parts.  This quilt also seemed to take forever, but all the stopping and starting made it take longer.  But it, too, is done.  I did not get the binding on because by the time I finished last night it felt like midnight it was so dark outside and I was tired.  And knowing I had to be up early for work today, I opted to chill out and read for a bit instead.  It will get done.  The binding is prepared, I just have to sew it down.

The third quilt, a baby quilt, is still waiting, but it is quite small and will be fast to do.  I'll decide Thursday (my next day off) if I will quilt it or bind the others first.

And finally, because sometimes your washing machine needs a $103 zip tie...

...yep, you read that right.  The little doohickey that tells the washing machine the lid is open or closed broke and it wouldn't spin.  It cost me $103 for a guy to come out and put a zip tie in there and make the doohickey work right again.  In the meantime, the (THANKFULLY) last load of laundry needed to be rinsed and spun, so I visited a local hangout.  Memories of my college days...hard, uncomfortable chairs, shady characters...makes me so happy to have a home and all the amenities!

(And just in case you're worried about that $103 zip tie, $79 alone was just to have the guy show up.  Still a pricey zip tie.)

And with that, I believe you are caught up.

Time to crash.  Long day today and I've got to be up fairly early tomorrow for an oil change and getting my winter tires installed on the car.  (No getting stuck in the driveway for me this year!)

Happy quilting,

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

mostly the Hunter's Star quilt...

The weather turned nice and the leaves were pretty and the wind wasn't blowing too much one day last week, so four quilts went outside for a photo shoot.  I'll share them shortly, but this post is mostly about finishing up that Hunter's Star project!

I last left you with a pile of blocks, awaiting the design floor...

...waiting because there were more pressing deadlines ahead.  Those project deadlines have been met, so it was time on Sunday afternoon to decide on a layout!

With five colors and five prints, this got a little sticky.  I had two extra blocks and consulted via photo texting with a friend, and finally we decided this layout was good enough...

...each block being relocated resulted in a cascade of movement.  Getting the yellows evenly distributed took some time, as well as getting everyone happy in general.  It could probably have gone on for three more days, but... help was less than helpful, so it needed to be moved along to the next stage.

I sewed and sewed.  Trying my best to match points and corners.  But let me tell you - this pattern, at least not the pattern I used and the method of construction, is not for the faint of heart.  There are a number of lost points, but some puckers to make up for them!  Since this will end up a charity quilt, not a showpiece, I'm okay with that and kept sewing.

I took no in-progress shots, I was so focused on sewing.  I wanted it together.  I wanted to get it done before I talked myself into being so frustrated I would stop.  And so I kept going and sewed on borders and all before I stopped.

The borders lie flat.  Thanks to some bias edges (a necessity for this pattern and my method of construction), and easing to make things fit, there are a few A cups in there.  But with some heavy-ish quilting, I'm sure it will be just fine.  The main effort was to get those borders to lie flat.  All the rest will work itself out.

Want to see it?

This was not among the four that went out for a photo shoot.  This one went out yesterday.  It started out as a beautiful, sunny day.  By late afternoon, when I was done fighting with this, it had turned grey and dreary.  I edited the photo as much as I could to try to capture the colors correctly, but I still feel it lacks something.  Hopefully I will have a better day to take the final - after quilting - photo later!

And while I was on a roll, why not piece the back?  I had a bit more than a yard of the border fabric left as well as another yard of fabric from the set and that was almost enough for the back.  I just needed one more the stash!

Freddie helped inspect the fabrics, of course.

Wait!  Where did he go?

Oh, there he is!

He was pretty grumpy soon after this photo because I made him move.  It's rather hard to sew fabrics together with a cat sitting on them.  Particularly when the fabric and cat are on the floor and the sewing machine is not.  I guess I could have moved the sewing machine...

So the back is sewn and ready to go, too.  And I used up almost all of the fabric my mom gave me.  There are a few small pieces left that can go into the stash and two leftover blocks, but I'm pretty pleased that the majority of this never made it past the shelf of projects!

And I promised to show you what I did to the Hunter's Star ruler... looks blurry here, but only because the shadow of the lines on the front of the ruler are showing up on the table under the ruler.

Anyways, the book/pattern I used called for templates.  And the ruler had instructions that intimidated me.  So I chose to place clear tape on the ruler, carefully place the ruler over the templates in the book, and draw lines on my ruler telling me where to cut the pieces.  Since it was hard to see, I drew some shoddy green arrows pointing to the tape and places I marked.  It worked quite well and was much faster and probably more accurate than actual templates.  I just had to pay extra attention that I was cutting along the right markings.

Also, after the first round of marks nearly wore off, I redrew them and put a second piece of tape over the first and that not only preserved the marks, but seemed to darken them!  And when I'm done?  Peel that tape off and no one will be the wiser.

I already have a plan how to quilt this, but since there are a few others that have deadlines that are looming closer and closer (yikes!), it will have to wait again.

So what did the good-weather photo shoot capture?

Single Girl!

(Waaaaaaay better representation of the colors here!)

100 blocks - "Kinship"

Yep.  All sewn together.  This was a major project for quite a few days and I had black lint on everything and black strings (that Kona ravels badly!) all over the floor.  I moved the sewing table and everything this afternoon to suck it all up because it was gross!

Jordan's quilt

At 90x90, this is a big one and my clothesline is obviously not tall enough.  That's okay, though, because if it WAS tall enough, I wouldn't be!

And Adrian's quilt.

These last two need to be completed soon, but I don't have backs for them.  I was going to try to coordinate with folks to purchase them together, but my mom is coming tomorrow and if we end up in a quilt shop, it may happen without them.  I want to get these done soon because binding also takes time and I'm getting a little antsy!  (Also, how am I going to quilt Adrian's quilt?!)

So I am down to just one quilt-along right now.  Another starts the first of November, but I think I'm going to reel myself in for any future group projects of this type.  This was fun, but I think I got in a little over my head.  I kept up, but it was stressful some days.  I'm already contemplating some ideas for goals for 2020, but haven't solidified anything yet.  I have time.  And if I end up setting no quilty goals, that's okay too.  I have no doubt projects will find me.

And a sad note.  Skitter went back to the vet last week Thursday and was still doing poorly.  She had better days, but her color was still off and she was still eating very little.  She acted like she was in pain and was very weak.  It was time to say goodbye.  We had an extra week with her that I didn't expect when she went in the week before, which was nice, if not stressful.  She is in a better place, no longer in pain and I hope no longer so afraid of everything.  It took her so long to be comfortable here (and I'm still not sure she ever felt completely safe, despite all our efforts), I just hope whatever the afterlife is for her is stress-free.  The remaining two kitties, Freddie and Gabby, seem to have noticed her absence less, and are continuing slowly to bond.  Last night they woke me up in the middle of the night growling over a mouse.  Gabby had it, Freddie wanted it.  I'm not sure who caught and killed it, but thankfully by the time I intervened, it was dead, making the gross task of disposing of the carcass much easier!  I'm also thankful to have two good mousers!  (And chipmunkers and molers and fly-chasers!  Next time we have a bat in the house, that will get evaluated - the last time we had one, deaf Lexie helped me find it while Gabby watched us...)

Time to go finish tidying the house and set up an extra table for my mom to sew with me tomorrow!

Happy quilting,