Monday, January 11, 2021

sticks update and cats (of course)

I've been diligently working away on my "sticks" assignments.  Well...some of them...

First, we have the making a quilt from old shirts.  Last time I wrote, I had the shirts all deconstructed and ready to cut.  I cut.  And cut.  And cut.

And then I matched them all up in sets of 5.  I cut enough to make 64 blocks, plus a few extras because I rounded up how many of each shirt I would need to get there.  But when I got near the end of matching, I ran out!  No worries.  I still had a lot of fabric.  And maybe I counted wrong.

Turns out, I can't count to 5 very well and now have even more extra strips than I should.

Oh well.

All this while, I didn't take any photos.  Naughty Katie.  That stack of strips was pretty.  And that stack of mixed and matched strips was nice, too.  Nothing I can do for that now, so I'll just soldier on and show you the stack after my first round of sewing!

This batch went fairly quickly.  I sewed about four stretches to get them all done and some went faster than others.  I think it made a difference what I was listening to and how engaged I was.  But eventually all 64 strips sets were sewn together.

Next up was the daunting task to mix and match the blocks, as these need to be halved diagonally and sewn back together.  I can do the two-at-a-time method, but I still need to make sure I don't end up with bad pairings.

This is getting exciting!  I had loads of help, so this took longer than it could have, but in general, it went much more quickly than I anticipated.  And I allowed it to be not perfect, but good enough, because perfect would have taken weeks.  And is probably unattainable anyways.

Then I started sewing these together as leader-enders for the next stick project.  I'll share that project in a minute, but here are the first four final-design blocks:

And I kept going for a while yesterday and had 14 before I stopped for the day.

They seem brighter in these photos than they do in real life.  Usually I have the opposite problem, so I'm not going to complain, but for once I think they look better here than they do in person!

So the other stick I've been diligently working on is the bag of scraps from the closet.  You last saw all the pieces ironed and stacked neatly, but then came the real work.  What to do with them?

Saturday evening, after work and dinner, I sat on the floor and contemplated.  My original thought was a log cabin of some sort, but further look at the pieces led me to rethink that.  It seemed a lot would be wasted and while I just want this used up, I don't want to make excessive waste either.  So my friend Colette and I brainstormed, via text, and I came across this quilt that I had taken a screenshot of months ago while perusing Instagram.  Since there is no pattern info, I had to draft it myself, which is okay.  I had certain size pieces to work from anyways, so who knows if an actual pattern would have worked.  And I've been doing this long enough, drafting patterns isn't all that hard.  Usually.

I cut into the pieces and made this little gem yet that evening.  It went together quite well and encouraged me to continue.  But I was tired and decided to call it a night.  I knew I was nearing the point of making errors due to tiredness.

Sunday morning, I was up and rolling, though, and made 5 more!

(Some of them look a bit washed out and I'm not sure why, but you get the idea.)

These take a lot longer than the shirts blocks, but that's okay.  I'm making progress and that's what counts.

I left all of these blocks on the floor last night and heard some zoomies happening late at night.  This is what I found this morning:

(Note the cat toy in the middle of it all?  They also knocked my rotary cutter to the floor and it slipped open.  I don't think anyone was hurt, but that scared me way more than wrinkled blocks.)

In addition to working on these, I did print out the pattern (after swearing at and installing my new printer - that is a whole saga, but whoever had the brilliant idea to send NO CORD to connect it to your computer and then require you to, via wi-fi, set it up using your smart phone (my phone STILL has not found the printer) should be fired.  I had the cord from the old printer (same brand), and plugged it into my computer right away, and lookie there: my computer saw the hardware, installed the hardware, and allowed me to print from the hardware...I still don't think my printer is wi-fi connected, but I don't care.  I want a printer for my desktop and am smart enough to figure out, if I need to, how to get something from my phone to my computer to get it printed, as I think most people are.  But I guess if you don't have a real computer...)

Where was I?  Oh, I printed the pattern for the embroidery, bought and washed some linen-ish fabric to stitch it on, and traced it.  I'm a little scared to start stitching, but will get there soon enough.  No photos, though.  Again.

While I was out shopping, actually looking for more background for the tiny stars, I picked up some valentine fabric.

I wanted a mask for the next holiday.  Since I've found a pattern that goes fairly quickly, it's fun to keep up with the holidays.  I mean, I'd rather NOT have to wear a mask, but if I'm gonna do it, I might as well have fun with it.

And while I'm at it, this quarter yard will make four, so why not?  And since two coworkers have commented on one of my other non-holiday masks and I have plenty of that fabric, why not make a couple of those?

Well, I remembered to take a photo somewhere in the middle, right?

Six masks done!  It was nice that they all had a black background, so I could chain-sew through them, unlike the last batches where I had to switch thread color for every single one.

I packed them up into zipper bags and got lucky - while none of these three coworkers were there when I last worked, all three of their lockers were unlocked.  (Some lock them only when they're there, some don't even have a lock...)  So I snuck them in to surprise them.

But I have to say, Valentine fabric seems in shorter supply this year.  I'm guessing we can chalk that up to the pandemic, like so many other things, but I'm happy to have found this fun print.  And maybe fewer choices was a good thing?

Oh, and these did not leave home without some final inspection!

I think he was more interested in the elastic and ties, but he is often Mr. Aloof, so I will take and encourage any interaction he volunteers.

Speaking of cats and Valentine's day, today at the grocery store, I found kitty toys themed for the holiday.  And bought some flamigoes.

Finn sniffed the pink one and the white one and chose the pink one.  I told him I would bring him something, so he got first dibs.  He promptly started killing it.

Toby was waiting for his turn...

He snagged it and paced around the house, unsure where to kill it.  He finally slowed down enough for me to get a less-blurry photo when he got back to where he started (and Finn never left) and eventually sat down to take care of business.  It was kinda funny, but also kinda sad.  Poor kid didn't know what to do with his new toy!

This past week, the books I ordered shortly after Christmas arrived!

The hubby had been given a gift card to Barnes and Noble and since I'm not sure he actually knows how to read, he passed it along to me.  A few of these were on my list, but a couple, to finish up the gift card, were recommended elsewhere and sounded good.  One more is due in April, as it is a preorder.  A few on my list got postponed because they were only hardcover.  Those are harder to handle and cost more, so I can wait a bit.  But it was an exciting box to have arrive!

With that, I think I have caught you up!

(No, please don't mention the stick I didn't mention.  It has not gotten anywhere.  But I haven't forgotten either.)

Happy quilting!

Monday, January 4, 2021

pq 12.1, sticks and tiny stars

Lots has been happening in my sewing room this past week, but I'll start with Project Quilting.  Season 12 kicked off yesterday and while I'm not going to go as big as I did last year, I thought it might be fun to participate at least a little bit.

The prompt is basically limiting colors to yellow and grey.  We can add in black and white, but nothing more.  I giggled when I realized I had this pincushion from WAY back when tiny stars was in its infancy...

This is not eligible, but it made me laugh - who would know?!

But then I decided to pull down a bin of bits and pieces and see what I could find.  I found these leftover half square rectangles from making bees last year.  Or, rather, I guess, late the year before.

These are all I had and while they're interesting, not really enough to make something of a useable size.  I have a bit more of some of the fabrics in my stash, but was being kinda stubborn and decided if I cut them in quarters, I'd have more pieces, albeit smaller.

And then a pincushion happened!

It's about 2.5x4.5" and the top is actually quilted. If you look close, I quilted in the ditch of the grey seam.  There's even a thin batting in there!

But while this qualifies as an entry, I know I can do better.  And I still have all those pieces, some still large, that I don't want to put back in the bin.  So I kept cutting and sewing and didn't take any photos again until I got here:

And then, I tried make myself go blind by sewing down black binding in the increasing darkness.  With thread that was determine to tie itself in knots.  There may or may not be a few naughty words sewn into these projects...

And here you go!  The runners are what I have decided are Cabbage Patch doll size.  About 3.5" across and about 13 or 14" long, they used all the pieces I pulled from the bin.  I have no idea what I will do with these, but maybe I'll have a collection of tiny runners to display on my wall at the end of the six challenges?

Tiny stars were mentioned a quick bit above, so let's visit that offering next, shall we?

I made a run at finishing all that was in the box before the new year.  I almost made it and was working on this last batch when the new year rolled in:

This brings my total to 951.  I figured out I'll want 1056 for the final size I desire, so that means I need 105 more tiny stars.  I'm out of fabrics and have run through my entire stash, so I'll need to visit my mom again.  But with the virus raging and hospitals in many places being overtaxed, I think I'll wait a bit before I visit.  Perhaps my parents will get the vaccine and we can visit more safely in the coming months.  This is a long-term project and I'm in no rush for more parts right now.  But the end is in sight!

There have been no cat photos yet.  What?!  Let's fix that.

My Christmas tree is still up.  Supposed to be up until the 6th, so...

Gabby was trying to get comfortable in this sideways conformation, but didn't last long.  I did get a pretty good photo of her first, though!

The following day, Finn and Toby tried to do the same.  Finn was also moving around, trying to find a comfy spot when Toby joined him.  And when Toby jumped down, the whole tree went off the edge with Finn on it.  The tree is currently laying on the floor.  It may not make it past this year.  It's pretty beat up right now...but the cats have had so much fun and the tree is getting old, so it's all good.

January first rolled around and I got to pull sticks from my jar!

I've had an urge to make a quilt using used shirts, so I decided to add it to the list, figuring I'd have some time once the weather gets nicer (in a few months) and the vaccine gets more widely distributed (also in a few more months) to hit the thrift shops for some shirts.  Well...

I was out doing other errands and decided to stop in at our Goodwill clearance center.  I didn't know what to expect and thought maybe I'd find a shirt or two.  Get the collection started if nothing else.

I found a few...  The cashier stuffed these 14 shirts (that I counted later) into a big bag and plopped it on a scale - sold by weight, not by piece.  $12.54 was all I owed!  I brought them home and they went straight into the washing machine.

And then I spent a chunk of two days working to deconstruct these and saved the cuffs for my mom.  (She has a crafty project for them, though I'm not entirely sure what.)  Cutting pieces for the quilt is on my agenda for today.

The pattern I'm going to use is this Lucky Log Cabins pattern.  And my goal is to have at least a top by the end of the month.  We'll see how that goes, but I'm off to a good start, having my fabric ready to go.

The using up random scraps project was a bag from the closet.  Years ago, my sister-in-law gave me a bag of scraps for my guild charity collection.  There were a lot of smaller pieces in there and, after having our charity people say some less than kind things about small pieces in general, I opted to keep a chunk of the bag and make charity quilts from it myself.  I've made quite a few smaller quilts, and had sorted the fabrics into themes and whatnot, but then stalled out.  Out of sight, out of mind.  Time to fix that!

So I pulled the first bag I saw. Because why not?

I sorted it somewhat here, but obviously an iron is desperately needed!  I left it here on the floor overnight, though, and Gabby wrestled it into submission.  Well, what probably passed for submission to a cat.  It looked more like a tangled mess to me!

After a chunk of time with a steamy iron, I have this.  The green butterfly fabric is an oddball, but I'll decide what to do with that, too.  The strips I am going to see if I can figure out a log cabin type pattern or something along those lines.  And there are a lot of squares in there, too.  So I'm going to be thinking about this, but will get something made, again even if it is just a top.

The other two sticks are a quilt to be longarmed, which is the cars and trees quilt I made not too long ago:

I have to decide how to quilt this, but I do have a back and batting.  I may have also cut binding for this one, but I can't remember for sure.  I'm excited to dig into my Rack of Shame and I love this quilt, so it will be a double win.

And lastly, in the category of "other" is the Lilipopo-style embroidery.  If you've not seen it, she has a blog here and the little girls and motifs are adorable.  I've been eyeballing her designs for a while now and have to decide if I want to order a kit (if she still offers them) or wing it on my own with just a pattern.  Another thing to contemplate while I cut loads of pieces from shirts.

One last set of photos.  We haven't had much snow to speak of yet this winter.  I'm not complaining, as it makes getting around more difficult, but Mother Nature had some fun the first night of the new year.

Looking down my driveway, after running the trash dumpster up to the curb.

And looking up my driveway from near the garage, where I started with the trash, to the neighbor's barn across the street.

We had a little bit of freezing rain and then lots of heavy snow.  It stuck and looked beautiful, but made the roads a bit nasty and was HEAVY to shovel from the walk.  Thankfully neither the hubby nor I had anywhere to go that day.  (The tire tracks you see are from the snow plow who cleaned us up nicely.)

Time to go start cutting pieces for a new quilt!

Happy quilting!

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

2020 year in review

When thinking about looking back on my year, as far as quilting goes, I wasn't sure what to expect.  I felt like I quilted a fair amount, but I also felt like I spent a lot of time not quilting when I could have been.  This was a strange year, filled with a lot of uncertainty and worry.  I did my best to set things aside I couldn't control and just go quilt.  Some days it worked, others it didn't.

But there is no other way to find out how well I did than start looking, right?

I've been good about linking my finishes on the sidebar over there (for those of you seeing the "mobile" version of my blog, you'll be missing those sidebars, but they're there, you just need to change your view to "desktop" version), but I'll recap those first because they're easiest!

In all, I finished 19 quilts this year.  They may not have all been started this year, but they were all finished this year.

Six of them were for Project Quilting challenges:

All of these were donated to a local group that work with foster kids and families.  Links to these individual quilts are over there in the sidebar.  They range in size from something like 70x70 to 12x18ish.  A couple of these I really love and had a hard time letting go, but I started them with the intention that I would send them off to a new home, so it was okay.

Next up were the quilts finished for Guardian Angels group - the above mentioned group that works with foster kids and their families.  I had made a goal for myself to make one quilt, from the stash, per month last year in June or so.  With the addition of the Project Quilting quilts, I made it and then some!

This donation was coordinated with Confessions of a Fabric Addict's Hands2Help quilt donation project.  Her year runs a little off from a calendar year, so these are just the quilts finished in 2020.  There were a few more finished in 2019 that were part of this "year."  In all, I ended up donating 17 quilts!

But there were six more quilts I finished this year!  Two I even kept for myself!

First up, there was 16-year-old Emily who got pregnant way before she was ready.  Her parents were super supportive, though, and love little Willow more than anything else.  I think it's a competition between mom and grandma who can post more pictures of that little cutie!  So of course Willow got a quilt.

And then there was the lightning inspired quilt for my high school friend Becky.  We had lost touch after school, but the magic of facebook brought us back together and gave me a peek into her life of baking as a hobby and two sweet kitties.  And in just a short bit of time, while longarming, this idea was born and I ran with it.

Next up was a quilt for my dad.  My mom being a quilter, I've been pretty hesitant to make quilts for family members.  I don't want to step on toes, but when I found this actual pattern (I'd seen it online previously) in a quilt shop in January, I went for it.  And while I originally planned for a Christmas gift, I was very glad I'd opted for a birthday (July) gift instead when he fell off a ladder, broke his hip and scared the bejeezus out of all of us the following month.  (He is doing fine now, and walking without aid of a cane even!)

He liked it, but I don't think my mom (self-appointed quilt police) will let him actually use it.

Soon thereafter, the eldest niece on my side of the family announced she was pregnant.  Though she is married, she wasn't quite ready to be a mom.  But I think this little guy (yep, a boy, due in May) will have plenty of company being a "quarantine baby" and my niece is super excited now that the shock has worn off.  Of course, he needs a quilt from me!

There were two more squirrels to chase this year - both quilts I kept for myself and both quilts I did as together-apart challenges with my friend Colette.  (Who used to live close, but decided to move away to live closer to a lake...pffttt!)  First we made a colorful Bear Paw quilt:

She started off way ahead of me, but we finished them within a week of each other.  I caught up, but only because she got busy on other projects.  Such is the way of quilting, right?  This quilt is currently on my bed as an extra layer because I'm too lazy to put an actual under-the-quilt blanket on there just yet.  No cat has complained yet.

A few months later, we decided on Well Suited.  I'm not sure where hers stands, but I do remember her opting for a different variation for a reason I cannot remember now.

This one went straight to my couch, as the fall colors were perfect when I finished it, but has been replaced with a Christmas quilt now.  It feels good to use the quilts as they are finished!

There were also a lot of tops created that have yet to be quilted...a few of them random squirrels I chased quickly like a madwoman and others that were part of a quilt-along.

Many of these are on the list to be quilted in 2021.  (Finn is just filler, but so cute!)

Tiny stars also made random appearances...

...this may not be all I made this year, but you get the idea.  This is where I plan to head after this blog post is finished!  I have six stacks of about 9 fabrics each left, so maybe I can get through that stash I snagged from my mom before 2021 hits?  MAYBE I can even get this finished in 2021?

I made some fun toys and pajama pants...

...and this year would not be complete without a few masks, right?

Not all I made are in there, but this is quite a few!  Many went to friends and family, but that's okay with me.  If I can keep a few people safer with my sewing skills, I'm going to run with it.  And it allowed me to revisit some parts of my stash that are often neglected.

There was also a front porch/front yard quilt show that brought a few friends to visit in May.  Outdoors, safely spaced, of course!

(This was such fun, I may decide to do it again...if I shoot for May 2021 (Memorial Day weekend again), I have plenty of time to finish a few more quilts, right?!)

I set a challenge for myself to read a book a week.  I got derailed a few times and only read 37, but here, compliments of Goodreads (and a bunch of screenshot finagling on my part) is a collage of some of those books.  (I may yet finish #38!)

When quilting, I couldn't read, but found comfort and information in podcasts.  Previously I had tried quilty podcasts, but found myself distracted and wanting to SEE the quilts they were referencing.  Music is good, but sometimes you just want something different.  When I happened up on some science podcasts, I found my niche.  This Week in Virology has become a favorite and a wonderful source of actual information (not speculation or theories or accusations) and Science Katie is now addicted.  (And if you want quickie updates on the virus, choose those labelled "clinical update with Dr. Griffin", as he goes over current treatments and info rather than the real sciencey researchy stuff the others go into - and they've been separated out from the remaining podcast recently, which is good for non-science folks!  Also, they're short.)

And lastly, but most importantly, we rescued this handsome dude:

He and the other cats are still working out their relationships, but we are so glad to be his forever humans.  As we are with all the other fur-babies we adopt.  Life is so much more interesting and full with fur-babies, no matter their distractions or costs.

And with that, 2020 is nearly a wrap.  I truly hope 2021 will prove to be a less dramatic year, but only time will tell.  In the meantime?  I've still got my quilting to keep me sane.

Happy quilting!