Monday, November 27, 2023

crazy cat lady

I suppose my last post about the cat quilt and cat rescue might have tipped anyone who is new here off to my crazy cat lady status.  (Those of you who have been here longer know all about my problem.)

Salem weighed in at 7 pounds and will go in to be spayed next month.  She got her first round of vaccinations and is otherwise healthy.

But we have a new problem.


I worked Black Friday and as I was getting ready to head to lunch, this guy walked in with a kitten.  Now I work in a farm store, so dogs are frequent.  Sometimes we get a goat or a mini pig or a kitten.  This was not a take-your-pet-shopping deal.  This was a dump-your-cat-at-a-store-parking-lot deal.

There is a special place in hell for people who do things like this.  I'm sorry if that is too strongly worded for anyone out there, but this is horrendous.

She is small.  8-12 weeks old is my guess, but she'll be seeing the vet later today.  (Second Monday in a row I've called with a new kitten and they've fit me right in.  No complaints.)  We'll find out how old this spazzy muffin actually is and how much she weighs, but it's not much.

She is more peopley than Salem and seems to have some separation anxiety issues.  She crashed on what we call the "princess pillow" yesterday.  (The hubby doesn't like it next to him on the end of the couch, so he sets it in the middle and rests his elbow on it.  The cats snuggle on it next to him.)

She has more energy than the four older cats put together, I think.  But she is a normal kitten and my hubby is absolutely smitten.

So we now have six cats.  (She is undeterred by the hissing of the other five, so I think we're going to be okay.)

What else have I done?

I finished the center applique for the Bramble Blooms quilt along.  The kitty was an idea from a few weeks ago, but seems fitting since we added Salem just last week.  Maybe this quilt will be named Salem's Garden?  Hmmm...guess we'll see how the rest of the quilt turns out.

I'm glad to have it done, as the next step is likely to come any time now.

I also got a call from my Saved By Zade, the folks I've sewn a lot of hammocks and catnip toys for, asking for covers for heating pads.  They have rescue barn cats that are fairly pampered while waiting for a forever home, but the heating pads are getting dirty quickly with the snow and mud.  So a cover that could be removed and washed is in order.

I scored some velcro at the dollar store (it's not the grippiest, but it doesn't need to be) and raided my stash for this flannel to make a test cover.  I'm meeting with my volunteer later today to evaluate the project and receive a fabric donation to make more.

If anyone out there has any ideas how to make these more robust or safely water resistant, please let me know!

There are 16 heating pads in the barn, but I'll need to make at least three per pad to allow for washing and not make it be a must-do task.  Unless they ask for more.  If they're providing fabric, I can put in the time, no problem!

This week also included more shifts than usual at work and two Thanksgiving celebrations.  I'm glad to have a day at home finally (though I have been out for groceries already and will be out a few times later, as noted above) and just relax!

Oh yeah, I also have to quilt the wedding quilt, but right now the focus around here is acclimating two new cats and I'm a little wary of how they'll behave with the noisy longarm running.  I've got time to procrastinate!

Happy quilting!

Monday, November 20, 2023

the cat quilt (and more)

After my realization that the cat quilt was not listed in my sidebar of finished quilts last week, I am very belatedly blogging about that finish.

(I think the reason I never blogged about it finished is because I never took a photo of it after I sewed the binding down by hand.)


Waaaaaay back in 2017, I joined the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.  It's still a thing, but I haven't participated recently.

I had a great idea to make The Cat Quilt, using the assigned colors each month.  That would keep it scrappy, but also somewhat controlled.  I did some math and figured out how many I'd need of each color to get the quilt throw size and how many of each color and then I set off to make them.  As I made them, I posted photos.  Well, some of them.

I'm missing orange, blue and pink at least.  I have no idea what happened.  But I did make them because eventually I finished the quilt.

The background is harder to see here...'s a dark grey chambray.  And boy does this stuff ravel!  Thankfully with smaller pieces (the cats are 3" x 4" finished), even if it did so, the strings weren't too long.  But I had to be careful.

After months of sewing a dozen or so each month, I had enough for the top!

This felt really good, but next up was the dreaded long seams.

I found this cute back at a quilt shop near my mom:

(Yeah, the photo was taken after quilting, but you can still see it.)

This could not have been more perfect and they had just the right amount.

Next up was top construction.

On a nice sunshiney day I got a photo minus actual cats.  That's nothing short of a miracle around here.

And then it was on to the longarm.

I opted for a simple motif to just get this done.  I think.  Maybe I was being lazy.  Maybe I was trying to avoid putting swirls into ANOTHER quilt?

See?  Simple.

And then to the scrap binding for binding!

I sewed that on and took this photo with the help of the hubby:

You can see the binding edges flopping around some.

And then I took no more photos.  To this day.

So this is going to stand in for the finished quilt.

I've used it a lot.  It's one of my favorites.  There are a lot of memories wrapped up in this quilt - I can tell you where most of the fabrics came from - what project they were purchased for.  Or perhaps who gave them to me.  It's not quite as expansive as the Tiny Stars from last week, but it's still a lot of variety.

Quilt Stats:
Pattern: The Cat by Elizabeth Hartman
Size: 70" x 80" or so
Pieced and quilted by me

And now on to more current news.

The wedding quilt is now a top!

I finished this Saturday afternoon while waiting for the hubby to get home from work.  We were headed to a niece's birthday party.  He was running late, so I not only finished the top, but got the back pieced:

And also got the binding cut, sewn and pressed.  (It's just one of the reds in the quilt.)

This back isn't exactly what I wanted - it's a little stiff and a little Valentiney, but the selection of reds that weren't tone-on-tone (which was great IN the quilt) was abysmal.  I didn't want to go elsewhere, so I just went with what was best.  And it looks like the reds faded, but I assure you, it had a pink background before I washed it.

So that is up for quilting soon.  The wedding is New Year's Eve.

I also got a little work done on the Bramble Blooms project.

Not a lot, but I do like the yellow centers now that I'm sewing them down.  This still needs quite a bit more work, but I'm getting there slowly.  The gal in charge said the next step likely won't be until next week, which is good since I have a fair amount on my plate this week.

A lot to do?  Let's add more!

Meet Salem.  Discarded by the same family where Finn came from, she was in need of a real home.  We didn't want another cat.  Toby is a jerk.  She didn't need to be abandoned.  Toby is terrified of her.  All about-5-pounds of her.  She just wanders around the house, headbutting things, wanting pets, exploring, eating a few crunchies, purring and is completely chill about everything.  She'll hiss back, but all the boys are afraid of her.

We got lucky and today already she will go in for her first vet checkup ever.  Vaccinations, fecal screening and scheduling for a spay.  Merry Christmas to us.

I'm sure she'll learn to be a quilt cat in no time and you'll be seeing more of her.  She has white on her chin and belly, so even in photos, you might be able to tell her apart from big brother Freddie, who is all black.

Happy quilting!

Monday, November 13, 2023

tiny stars and micro buj

I was all set to share the Tiny Stars journey this week and then something more important happened... third great-nephew was born.  

A few weeks back, I shared the quilt I'd made for him.  In that post is the story of why his name is Micro BUJ, but I can definitely say he is living up to the name...

He is nearly a month earlier than the last due date I'd heard, but I know even with all the modern technology doctors have, it's an estimation.  My brother-in-law (his grandpa) is over the moon happy.  And being the first of this generation on that side of the family, he's gonna be S.P.O.I.L.E.D.

So now on to the Tiny Stars journey.

In 2017, I made a few tiny (wonky) stars on a whim.  I had some random bits of fabric and decided to just do something random.

I made the blocks into pincushions.

And then an idea was born...what if I made a tiny star from EVERY SINGLE FABRIC I own?

I started with red because it coincided with my Rainbow Scrap Challenge color that month.  (And apparently I haven't officially blogged about the Cat Quilt I did that year - it's in this post, but you'll have to scroll down a ways because it was a year-in-review post and I didn't post much in 2017.  Blogging about that quilt is going on the to-do list!)

Organization was going to be a problem, so...

...little baggies were employed to hold the eight star point fabrics I'd need for each block and then a little snippet was glued into a binder so I could hopefully avoid duplicates.

Since the fabric challenge had started a few months before, I did have to go back into my stash, but I also kept up each month, sewing many stars in fits and starts.

It dragged into 2018, where I worked on them during my guild's quilt show...

...and then into the realization that my stash was not going to be enough for a bed-size quilt (which was the plan once I graduated from a few pincushions).  So I started raiding my mom's stash - having that notebook was great because I knew what colors I was short on...and what she might have duplicates of!

I also went from sewing one or two stars at a time (chain-sewing, but minimally) into a BIG BATCH because I was ambitious.  Or crazy.

2019 did not have much to show for these, so on to 2020 where another big push happened...

I think I set myself a goal or something, so I ended up with this collage.  Gabby helped (of course).

In 2021 I finally got myself together, and with the ability to use the Design Floor in our local library community room at a guild sew-in, I came up with a layout.

(That was a LOT of crawling around on the floor!)

Home to begin top construction!

As I completed rows, I rolled them.  This seemed more efficient than folding, but I suppose it also just appealed to my sense of whimsy.

Then came the LOOOOOOONG seams.  At one point, I thought to offset these by one third of a block, but there would still be seams to match, so I changed my mind back to just a straight set.  I matched the corner seams, but not those within the block.  Being wonky, it wasn't going to make a big difference.  I wasn't losing any points anyways, so why make this harder than it needs to be?

LOTS of pins in each row, and it got heavier and heavier as I went, but I managed to get it into a top.

And then it sat.

This year (2023), I bought fabric for the back.  I pieced it.  And still procrastinated.

Then one day...

...I may or may not have been procrastinating quilting something else.

I debated doing swirls all over, but with so many seams and seam allowances, I was worried it would just be too much for my machine.  I know these machines are designed to go through a LOT (like fingers?), but still.

So I went with a wavy line, using block intersections as a guide.

And this is the only photo of the back.  But it is made up of two fabrics - this one and this same print, but with a dark grey background.  (There wasn't enough of the grey background fabric, so I just rolled with it.)

The front?

It's a bit harder to see here, but I tried for a spot where the thread would show so you can see how that design above fits into the block.  Kind of like an Orange Peel in my mind, but maybe not.

It's been done for a while.  I used leftover bits of binding to bind it.  But the hangup was getting a full quilt photo.  My parents have a nice walk-out basement that provides a nice balcony upstairs to drape a quilt on and get a photo.  But do I remember the quilt when I go over?  NOOOOOOOO!!!!

So last week I decided to just put the darn thing on my bed and take a photo and finally get to use this new quilt for my bed.

Quilt stats:

Pattern: wonky stars (google it - many quilters have tutorials)
Size: 99" x 99" (or so)
Block size: 3" x 3" finished
Number of blocks: 1,089 (set 33x33)
Number of pieces: 18,513
Construction duration: 6 years - on and off

I should also weigh it.  It is H.E.A.V.Y.

I love it.

(I made the bed more properly after this photo (you know, with pillows and whatnot), but this shows it off quite well.)

I am so glad it is done-done-done!

I did find a few duplicate blocks as I was laying it out, and apparently I also can't math well, because I had too many blocks.  They're in time-out for a while.  But it was kinda nice to have a few extras so I could weed out a few that I liked less (mom's only - ALL of mine are in there) or replace a duplicate if I found it.  (I think I only found two, but maybe there are some in the quilt?  I did go back and look a few times when I was sewing blocks together.)

And while I'm sharing this today, there was absolutely no work on it this week, aside from putting it on my bed.

So what have I done this week?

Well, it dawned on me that Christmas is coming far sooner than I'd like, so the cat toy construction project needed to speed up.

58 kicker toys, ready for the next step - some method of packaging.  I'm thinking of just tying two together with a ribbon or string, and stringing the label through, because I can't find inexpensive bags that are large enough.  But even with that, I need to make the little labels that I always attach.

I only got bit twice and managed to add catnip, stuff and sew these shut all in one (LONG) day.  (My catnip stash is much depleted, but that's okay.  Having to stop in the middle to go buy more stuffing was more annoying - but at least the store had it in stock!)

Next up is the wedding quilt.  My goal is to lay out three rows every sewing session.  The math I did early last week had me finishing this on Sunday.  It did not account for spending a day Christmas shopping (and birthday shopping - I think about half the family has November birthdays and we were behind), nor the other life things that just happen.

But I had lots of help...


...holding down those rowdy pieces...

...making sure it's snuggly enough...

...and most importantly, testing that the back side is strong enough to withstand fort-making.  (Just before the photo, he had his paws all the way under and was wrestling the pieces on the other side.)

I did not get the top done by Sunday, but I'm getting closer!

Six more rows to go, but it's really looking like something!  And at this point, there will be more larger background pieces, so it will get a little faster.

I've also been working on the Bramble Blooms quilt along applique center.  Last week I was thinking about doing a yellow pop in the center of the petals, but wasn't sure.

I woke up one morning thinking I should instead do a cut-out so the background would show through.  Kinda like lace, but not nearly so fancy.  I dug some little bits of truly scrap fabric from the trash to do an audition...

...and immediately went NOPE!  After having seen the yellow, it was a no-brainer that this was too plain.

So I chose a gold I liked, cut a template, cut pieces and started the applique process.  I even raided my stash of VERY old threads to get the colors I needed.  Of course, that perfect red was rotten and snapped as soon as I tested it.  (The gold is fine.)  Ah well.  Make do!

This morning, in the bright sunshine, I snapped a photo of my progress..'s a little goofy with the colors and shadows, but I'm making progress!

It seems like a lot, but I don't feel like it is.  But done is done and there's always  more to come!

Happy quilting!

Monday, November 6, 2023

no power!

This morning I got up early - lots to do!

First I baked a cake for a coworker.  Her birthday is this week.

While it was baking, I did many other chores - washing dishes, putting away laundry, etc.  When it came out, I jumped in the shower - grocery shopping awaits and doing that early is best for my mental state.

Lights had been turned out (it's not that dark at 8am any more, thanks to the time change, and I was headed out anyways) and I walked into my back room to grab my reusable grocery totes and heard the growl of our generator.  What?

No power!

Thankfully, we have a generator that kicks right on and runs part of the house.  The well pump, the furnace and the fridge, plus a few (and I mean few) outlets.  The important stuff still runs and guess what?  The computer is on one of the few outlets.  The wireless router (therefore internet), is not, but we have extension cords, so I'm in business!

The crock pot is plugged into one of the remaining outlets (they're all clustered around my longarm, which is odd, but whatever - not running the longarm on generator power) so we'll have a nice beef roast for dinner and I'm hoping the power is truly back on at 12:30, as the power company claims, so I can prepare the remaining dinner items and more easily make the frosting for this carrot cake.  (Because let me tell you how messy making cream cheese icing can be and I do NOT want that mess on my longarm table if it can be helped!)

On to the more important (quilty) things I intended to blog about before a minor inconvenience struck...

This week hasn't been the most productive quilt-wise, but I did get some stuff done.

The wedding quilt is coming along.  Once I got the last batch of quarter square triangle units trimmed...

...I could start laying things out.  I opted to do a single row layout at a time.  Otherwise this would have been a whole different kind of monster than the little guy above.  So far I have six of 18 rows sewn and joined.

It's starting to look like something, which is encouraging.  But there are a lot of seams and a lot of points and it's tedious.  I do like what I'm seeing, though.  I was worried the reds were all too similar, but they do seem to be different enough to give the quilt some depth.  Not a lot, but too much could cause a whole other problem.

Looks like no work will happen on this today - at least not this morning!

Last week I snuck in after publishing my blog to add an update on the Bramble Blooms Quilt Along, as I had pulled fabrics and even sewn my center.

A refresher, just to cover all the bases - the fabric pull:

The goal of this quilt along is to use up some of our older stash.  The stuff that gets passed over time and again because it's just not "us" any more.  Some of this stuff never was "me," but was just right for a specific project.  Or was gifted to me.  But some of it is just not me any more.  And some of it is just not really enough to do much with.  So into the bin it went.

Then the center.  I pulled some off-whites and started laying things out.  Puzzling over what could go where.  It's been a while since I tried any improv-type stuff, so this was a good stretch for me.

The next assignment was to design an applique for the center.  Since it is a flowery quilt along name, a flowery center was expected, though I'm pretty sure no quilt police would come after me if I did something else.

But again, this quilt along is meant to stretch us and I want that, so I asked the interwebs for some ideas.  Once I finally determined what keywords others called what I was wanting, I was off and running.  Too many ideas, maybe?

There were a lot of suggestions on how to come up with a design and I played along, doodling and cutting paper pieces as a start.

Of course, tweaking ensued, but I did like this flower.  I'm not great at applique, particularly those pointy-inny parts, so I wanted something I didn't have to struggle too hard with.

Selection of fabrics and making templates and cutting pieces was up next, and then laying it all out.  These are definitely not fabrics I would normally choose, but I like them here.

It is still missing something.  It looks kinda blah...

Maybe a center to those petals?  I pulled a few yellows from the stash (more like golds), but I wasn't sold on that.  I have another idea or two I'm tossing around in my head, but for now, this is where I stand.  Soon I'll sew these pieces down.  Maybe today?  I have daylight and don't need electricity!

Or I could continue stuffing cat toys?  My annual production of cat toys to give away to coworkers is ramping up again and until I have to sew them shut, I don't need power.  (Though I will have to fight the cats once catnip goes in, and once that happens, I like to sew them shut as soon as I can!  Less mess.)

Or I could just read?  I am going out with friends in a bit, so hmmm...

Oh boy!  I typed long enough that my power came back on!  (As all the lights were off (what's the sense in having them turned on if they don't work, right?), the generator ceasing its growling clued me into the power return.)

I guess my options just opened up a bit.  What to do first?

Happy quilting!