Sunday, June 13, 2021

in just one week!

Lately it seems the quilts I've been making have not been amenable to chain-piecing, which makes them take a lot longer.  Last week with the Cabin Fever quilt, I changed that trend!

I took this photo as I was just getting rolling with the new quilt.  It seemed like I was speeding along at an unreal pace.  A few good days of work on this project, so focused I forgot to take photos, I had a whole top!

As I am typing this, I realize this photo, snapped just this morning, isn't so great.  I tried to edit it to be better, but apparently the lush trees and plants and grass are washing it all out.  But hey, it's proof the top is done!  (The binding is also ready, but no photo proof of that.  You can trust me.)

With this done so early, I fell down the rabbit hole of squirrels and started a non-stick project.  My blogging "friend" Preeti is hosting a quilt along and I decided I would participate.  When she announced it, I was interested, but on the fence.  A quick stick finish convinced me I could do this, too!  (And if the remaining sticks don't get finished...oh well!)

("Friend" in quotes because we've never met in person...not because I want to insult or lessen anyone!)

While contemplating, I hit upon the idea of using my brown stash as the background color.  I've used browns for the back of a few quilts over the years, but rarely use it much in quilt tops.  Combine that with my overflowing stash of turquoise/lighter blue and I'd have nice contrast and a less girly quilt to donate for the quilt along.  Win-win!

I pulled out my brown stash and started cutting.  Only three fabrics were used and only one was completely busted, but you can definitely see a dent!  Two were fabrics I remembered, the third was a happy bonus.  The remaining fabrics are stacked more tidily, so it looks even better than from just what was used up.

And then, in true Katie fashion (at least lately), I started sewing before I took any photos.  *sigh*

You can see the three different browns here, as well as a bit of the assortment of blues.  I cut no more than three from any blue fabric and did bust a few pieces from my stash.  That stash is also tidied up a bit from my last dive into it, so it fits into the designated area, but barely.  I know I choose blues and turquoises for a lot of quilts, but this is the third quilt I've made in a year using turquoises and lighter blues and it is STILL out of control.  But I guess chipping away at it a little at a time will eventually get me somewhere?

Once I had sewn the first set of seams for each block, I spent a chunk of time pressing them...

...and I had intentions of getting back to it later in the day, but life happens.  My hubby is on vacation for the next two weeks, which means I am on call all the time for his whims.  Yesterday I got a delicious lunch out of the deal, as well as a visit with his sister and her family, so all was not lost.  (Today he is out fishing with a buddy, and those boys will fish for two days straight if allowed.  The friend's wife, though, will not allow that, so I know he'll probably be home for I'd better make hay while the sun shines!)

Gabby is finally doing better this morning.  We had a false start with meds and had to regroup and go back to oral meds, which I wasn't convinced I could do.  Being confined to my sewing room (where she has been hiding anyways, but leaving the door closed allows her the whole room, not just cowering under the couch-chair), she is friendlier when I visit.  And I found these Churu treats (previously only seen on the interwebs) at my local pet store and she goes nuts for them, so instead of hiding and pouting after stuffing a pill down her throat, she comes right to me and scarfs up these little squeezy treats.  Here's to hoping we're on the road to recovery, not just symptom reduction.

And I promised a report on the strawberry milkshake cookies recipe from my last post.  While I was kinda "meh" about them, my coworkers loved them.  The cake mix that is a start gives them a very strong fake strawberry flavor, so much that many of my coworkers identified it as the base, which I think is where I was turned off.  It's not a bad flavor, just not entirely to my liking.  The dough/batter is also really sticky.  It crept up the shaft of my electric mixer beaters, so when I pulled them up a bit to fling the dough off into the bowl, it also flung some all over my kitchen.  Pink goo was found a few odd places in the subsequent days, but being so sticky, it stuck in a blob of goo that was easy to take care of.  In all, the recipe is a keeper, though unlikely it will be made just for the hubby and me.

Finally, Gabby has decided my cutting table (dresser) and mat are the best place to hang out in my sewing room...

...unlike Emma, she doesn't try to take over when I'm actively using it, but she crashes out regularly when I'm elsewhere in the room.  (Or when I'm not.)  I think with the warmer weather, it feels good - better than the poof bed she has enjoyed in the cooler months.  I would also hypothesize that being up higher gives her an advantage, but her position here - facing away from the room - makes me question that.

Time to get sewing!

Happy quilting!

Monday, June 7, 2021

a top and the next start

Two days of diligent work and Steampunk is now a top!

First I had to get all the blocks arranged in a pleasing manner...

...I was working on this while doing laundry and, in timing a shower between loads of wash, allowing the dryer to catch up, I took a break.  Freddie helped and must have worn himself out because I returned to find this.  He was actually sleeping, not just resting his eyes.

He was disappointed when I asked him to help more by allowing me to place blocks on top of him, as he was sort of in the middle of things, and he stomped off, mad.  Oh well...he'll get over it the next time I'm doing something interesting.

After much deliberation and movement, I had this.  Getting the lighter and darker fabrics distributed somewhat evenly, as well as paying attention to repeats in the greys, took a bit, but I was finally happy with this.

I carefully picked it up, marking rows appropriately, and headed up to the sewing room.  Cutting sashing and cornerstones was needed before I could start sewing, but that didn't take long.  I had decided to use the grey with birds I shared a while back, wondering if I could manage to get the birds all going one direction?  The fabric was left over from a quilt back, so I had odd pieces, but I WAS able to cut in both directions.  And, for the most part, was able to use correctly-facing birds for the vertical and horizontal sashing.  (Except that one bird I noticed was upside down when pressing the final seam...)

Gabby helped with this step.

She loves to lay on my projects, this time she actually was nearly napping.  But lately Toby has been quite aggressive towards her, so unless I close the door to the sewing room and he is excluded, she will not come out.  Needless to say, we've been sewing with the door closed a lot lately.

She was so worn out from helping, she moved to the chair and took a true snooze.  I looked over later and she was half upside down, still crashed out asleep.

(Her trip to the doc went well.  She has/had an inflamed bladder and was given a steroid shot.  Normally, pills would be given, but this cat is a wild child and catching her to give her a pill is pretty much impossible - by the time you actually catch her (against her will), she and you will both be so freaked out, she will turn you into hamburger while you try to get the pill in her mouth.  So I asked to try a shot.  So far, so good.  I'll be attempting to collect a specimen in another week for a recheck...)

I had to call it a day earlier than I wanted, as the hubby also needs some attention and whatnot, so the remaining sewing was accomplished yesterday afternoon, after some chores and family obligations.

I took a quick photo before heading back downstairs, where it is cooler.  Between the door being shut and being upstairs, it is much hotter up there.  The air conditioning does a great job downstairs, but heat rises, you know!

And finally, today, just before blogging, I ran outside to hang the quilt for a full-on, albeit less creative, shot.

It is due to rain soon, so I knew it was now or never!  Pinned to the cat run, as it is windy out there.  (It is really humid, too; I felt like I was being stirred around in pea soup!)  The colors seem a little off, but purple is nearly impossible to get just right.  And I have all the shades of it in here, so I'm just asking for trouble!

Just to the right of this photo, there is POISON IVY growing up and into the cat's space.  Stupid weed.  But that might explain why, after being so diligent in my clean up after weeding, I STILL got it.  The cats have been kept inside for about a week now, due to Finn learning how to escape, and I will be sure to get out there and eliminate that plant before they are allowed out again.  (And thankfully, the poison ivy is healing and no longer itchy.)

I opted for no outer border.  I don't like skinny borders when longarming (they tend to want to stand up at attention) and decided that the birds fabric for binding would create a nice final "border" to finish things out when the quilt is complete.  (I made the binding before the final tidy-up of this project.)

Hooray for a May stick finish!

In June.

Since the iron was still hot yesterday, I decided to press the fabric for the June stick "quilt from a purchased kit."  The whole kit had been sitting there for maybe two years and needed a good flattening before I could cut pieces.

Obviously, this photo was taken before I ironed the fabrics, but it gives you a better view of the prints than what I shared last week.  The pattern is there under it and the four fat quarters in the front/center will be the blocks, the darker blue is cornerstones and binding, and the green to the left is the background.  I vaguely remember the sample in the store, but even that is murky.

I'm baking cookies while I blog, but once the last batch is out of the oven, I'll be heading up to start cutting!  Gabby, of course, will be there to help.  (And Finn and Freddie are allowed in, also, as they tend to just ignore her, but Toby?  Poor soul will have to have the rest of the large house to himself for a bit.  He gets locked in the bedroom with me every night, so don't you worry that he is being neglected.)

Happy quilting!

PS The cookie recipe is here.  Stickiest dough EVER.  And they're too hot to try just yet, so remind me to let you know how they turned out!

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

end of may, start of june

May was not as productive of a month as previous months.  Two of my four sticks never saw any action.

The quilt slated for the longarm, Arcadia Avenue, is going to be a major adventure.  And for the April quilt, my machine threw a hissy fit.  I knew I needed to get something small on there to make sure all was well before I did something real and larger, but I just never talked myself into making time for any of it.

The box of scraps I should have been working on was also untouched.  But, to be fair, I did pick from it for most of the Project Quilting challenges and have added and subtracted pieces of fabric throughout the year.  It is kinda my ever-changing scrap bin.  And it will continue to be.  For now.  (It feels good to have something where odds and ends can land when they're too big to toss, but too small to stay in the stash.  Though I need to be sure it doesn't get out of control!)

What did I do?

Well, I learned to crochet.  Sort of.

I successfully made a ball.  It's not much, but for someone who has never crocheted anything, I'm pretty pleased with myself.  And it sets a baseline of knowledge for future endeavors, if I choose.

I also made 49 Steampunk blocks.  Well, mostly made them.  The centers are circles and needed to be appliqued.  I'm not sure if the pattern specified hand applique or machine, I much prefer the look of hand applique.  And I'm not very good at machine.  Add in the piece being circular and I'm all for handwork!

During the front porch quilt show (which was a bust if you want to consider visitors - just one couple showed up - friends of the hubby no less!), I set up an ironing station downstairs, near the front door, and worked on two at a time.  (I gather the circles around a cardboard and only had two of those.)  Each day I completed 18 blocks.  Which, if you're doing math, means I have 13 left to go.  They go fairly fast, so if I just make a point to prep two as I have time, it shouldn't take long.

(But remember, I'm really good at procrastinating.)

I took no photos except this one, of a center I wasn't too fond of covering - it's perfect!  (And yes, I realized before I sewed it down that it didn't match correctly.)

The quilt show was fun except for the itching I suffered.  All my weeding efforts the week before brought me poison ivy!  I have it on both forearms, but the reaction on my right arm started days before that on my left, so it's been a fun ride.  (Thankfully the weather has been cooler through the worst of it, so I could keep my arms covered instead of making people think I have the literal plague!)

On Saturday, we hung quilts this way:

All of these, except the science geek quilt hanging from a tree with more poison ivy at the base than I initially realized, were finished in the last year.  Not all were started in the last year, though!  (And a few that were finished are not displayed because they live elsewhere now.)

We took them down at night, of course, and the poison ivy quilt went straight into the washing machine (followed by a thorough scrubbing of me and a second load containing shoes), and was not hung there on Sunday.  The configuration changed a little, so here is Sunday, from a different angle:

Both days the crew was here working on the barn, but they weren't in the way at all.  In fact, I wasn't even sure they saw what was going on until Sunday afternoon when one of the guys asked if I made those.  And, of course, if I sell them.

The weather was downright cold on Saturday morning and it didn't warm up much.  But I wrapped a quilt over my lap and toughed it out.  Most of the hubby's family showed up Saturday around lunchtime.  More because we were offering free burgers than to see the quilts, but that's fine.  We just had a struggle keeping the younger kids out of the house - the cats don't quite know what to do when there is that much noise and action in here!  (Except Freddie.  He gets in the middle of it and wants to be everyone's best friend.  Aloof Freddie that gives me the side-eye when I try to pet him.  Little brat!  But he was fostered with kids and apparently loves them.)

My parents also came down for the middle part of Saturday.  They stayed longer than the hubby's family, but also didn't have young kids in tow.

Since we had all of two non-family visitors show up in two days, we opted to let Monday slide.  We ran errands and did some things we couldn't have done with quilts hanging on the porch.

And today dawned a new month.  So that means new sticks!

Here you see not only the sticks, but three of the four projects that go with them.

The quilt kit is one I purchased a few years back and the pattern is inside.  It is fairly simple, so it shouldn't take long to work through.  The green half square triangles...well...I'm not sure where those will end up, but there they are.  And the book is a TON of cross stitch patterns for people.  Bodies and heads to match up for men and women and children of all shapes, sizes and colors.  With different kinds of clothing and hair as well as cats and dogs of many breeds.  Lettering and even some extras to throw in for personalization of each character.  I have no plan yet for what I will do...

The last is the quilt to longarm.  100 blocks is another monster, but is less intimidating than Arcadia Avenue.  Maybe I'll get to it this month?

But pulling these is as far as I've gotten today.  I had a few errands to run this morning and then realized that Gabby (the grey girl with the short tail who ate thread in January) was in the litterbox a LOT.  And doing little.  I actually noticed yesterday afternoon, but since she was eating and drinking and acting normally (knocking everything off my cutting table, demanding pets, chasing bugs), I figured it couldn't be anything too serious.  She was still doing it today, so I called the vet and they had a 2:30 appointment available.  Being a wild child, my adrenaline started running at 10:30 this morning, right after I hung up.  Would I be able to get her into the carrier and still have all of my limbs?  Turns out she decided to sit and snuggle me for about 45 minutes before we had to go, so I sneak attacked and plopped her in the carrier before she really woke up!  (Believe you me, THAT will never happen again!)  Of course, her bladder was empty (we suspect a UTI), so doc asked if she could stay overnight.  Definitely the best choice because I won't get her back in a carrier any time soon.  I ran home to take her some food for her stay (lessening their burden while keeping her from a potential upset tummy) and then stopped on the way home for a few more errands that popped up since this morning.

Here's to hoping whatever is up with my little girl is easy.  And even more that whatever the treatment, it is something we can manage with her wild child tendencies.

So there you have it.  A lot of words, not too many photos.  And not really much happening.

But let's do a bonus photo of Miss Gabby, in honor of her bravery in staying the night in the scariest place ever.

Happy quilting!

Sunday, May 23, 2021

more steampunk and lazy kitties

This week I don't feel like I did much sewing.  Looking back at the photos it looks like I did a fair amount.


Here are my offerings:

Blocks 25-33

I wasn't sure I would like the one with the bubbles (center), as it is fairly dark, but I love it!

And the one in the bottom left corner - I was trying so hard to make sure directional fabrics were cut properly.  I guess I was napping when that one got cut?  But I think I saved it by paying attention to where the blades went.

Blocks 34-39:

I haven't repeated a purple yet (and I won't), but because I'm reusing the dark greys, things are starting to feel familiar.

I decided to make 10 more blocks and go for a 7x7 straight setting.  At least in my mind.  I haven't laid them out on the design floor yet.  So I spent a chunk of time cutting 10 more blocks and then mass production sewing them.  Today I finished the last seams, but didn't lay them out for a photo.  I just added them to the stack and snapped a quick photo of them all together.  (Before even water spots from the iron dried!)

A piece for the center circle applique is pinned to each block - none of those have been done yet.  If the weather cooperates, I plan to work on them while hosting a front porch quilt show next weekend.  It will keep my hands busy, even when (if?) folks visit.  The weather is predicted to be good, but we also have barn deconstruction to deal with.  The crew finally arrived (the lead guy ended up in this hospital with the nasty virus, so work was understandably delayed while he, thankfully, recovered) for the first time just last weekend and, working only weekends, they have made a dent, but it's a big barn!  Every day they show up, it seems more of our yard and driveway are taken over by stuff!

Today, as I was sewing along, working to finish the last blocks, I looked around my sewing room to find all three of my boy kitties stretched out, lounging on the floor.  I snapped quick photos and then realized I had one of Gabby (the missing kitty - my only girl) from a few days earlier...

(Apparently the collage maker lopped off Toby's nose, despite my efforts!)

Lazy kitties.  Finn (the orange kitty) is usually stretched out as long as he can be, but here he was being conservative.  Not to worry, he rolled over and took over the entire space in front of my ironing board about the time I needed it.  And then attacked my ankle when I tried to work around him.  He was being playful, but when momma has a hot iron, maybe that is not the time?

With the front porch quilt show pending, that means the flower bed and yard need some attention.  I mean, they needed it anyways, but this pushes me to get it done.  So I've spent about an hour out there three of the last four mornings (I had to work that fourth), filling the wheelbarrow with weeds and dead leaves before it gets too hot.  I've made a dent, but have a fair amount to go...

I don't know what direction my quilty efforts will take in the coming week.  I still have the quilt to longarm and the scraps from the sticks, but also a few quilts I've constructed already this year that I'd kinda like to get quilted, too.  I guess we'll see where the wind blows me?

Happy quilting!