Sunday, March 18, 2018

March Happenings

We made a quick trip to Montgomery, Alabama, to see our son, Zack, get commissioned in the Air Force. He got to come back to Alaska for about 10 days before making his way to Texas where he will be at Shepard Air Force Base for Undergraduate Pilot Training. He has a pilot slot with a California Air National Guard unit in Fresno where they fly F-15s. It will be some time before he gets through all training  programs.

I did look on the internet to see if there were any quilt shops in the Montgomery area but nothing looked like a place I would be interested in since I am strictly a batik quilter.

Breakfast Club is on Thursday so I have been a busy little sewer trying to use up the 480 HSTs I got from the Christmas themed quilt I made from the mystery quilt the group did in December.

I ordered more of the background fabric in December, anticipating some kind of design with these mini HSTs. I looked for months on Pinterest for an idea. I finally saw a star design that I enhanced by adding an outer ring of blocks to echo the star. I love it! It is 39-inches square so a nice little size for a wall hanging. 

I haven't gotten very far on my "Wring" cleaning. 
Hoping I get re-energized to finish it by the end of March.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

"Wring" Cleaning

I've decided to create a new season for my part of the world, "Wring." 

A cross between Winter and Spring. Winter takes forever to leave and Spring is very brief. 

We awoke to a few inches of fresh snow this morning but it was nice and sunny today so it had a "Spring" feel in the air. I am tackling cleaning my studio which I expect to take all of March to finish with the rest of my activities.

I spent three days going through quilt magazines, store bought patterns and internet downloaded patterns and getting them organized into notebooks...which I will probably ignore just a much as my previous "basket" system. 

One can try!

And I went through all my finished tops that need quilting and paired them with backing fabrics. I to tend to stock up on wide backings when I catch a good sale. 

I have 27 quilt tops that need to be quilted! EEK!

The good news is only 8 tops are not officially paired with a backing but I do have some options if I don't find any on sale that I think would be a better match. Below is my stash of wide backing batiks. 

I spent all of yesterday organizing two baskets of 2 1/2 strips into these lovely boxes. Many were "sets" that I broke apart. It was very freeing for my artistic mind. I figured if I hadn't been compelled to create with them in the sets I bought them was time to let go and make new sets for the future. All these strips are intact, width of the fabric. Haven't gone through my scraps of 2 1/2-inch strips. I need another big storage bin!

This is the 27th quilt top I finished last weekend. It was a kit but I did add some of my own strips for the braided sections. The kit was extremely heavy on black strips for the last third of each braid. They are supposed to mimic Fireweed which is a very pretty wild plant that is prevalent in Alaska. I took this photo at night...a bit on the bleak side. So much prettier in person.

As luck would have it...I just finished a new rayon batik top that is also the color of Fireweed! I love it when those little serendipitous events occur.

I went with my favorite quickie top pattern that I can make in two hours. No buttons or zippers. Very nice with jeans!

I had lots of bare walls in the house after all the Christmas decorations finally got taken down. Put my latest quilt to be finished in my entryway. Nice and bright!

Off to do more Wring cleaning...

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Immersed in Quilt Projects

Several positive factors have come together in February to put me in a quilting state of mind. 
I am taking B-12 injections three times a week. 
The number of minutes of sunlight is increasing at least five minutes a day. 
Several snow days have kept me playing inside.

But mostly I have been working on quilting in the evenings instead of handwork in front of the television. I rarely spend time in  my studio in the evenings during the dark winter months. But I still have energy after dinner to head to my sewing studio and work on my projects. And I've been really enthused with my recent projects.

I finished piecing my challenge quilt for my Material Girls quilting group.
I am so thrilled with this top. This "inside" photo just doesn't show all the wonderful color in the background fabric but it really was my inspiration for this quilt. The fabric had been aging in my studio for at least 15 years. Hard to believe.

I used all my scraps to make this adorable little quit that is 31-inches square. 

I want to share our leap into new technology. 
We have officially cut our telephone land-line and cable television. We are now completely dependent on the internet. Scary but so easy and we are saving money.

We are using Roku stream sticks to live stream on Hulu and Amazon Prime. This little box replaced three different cables that went between our television set and the cable box. And the biggest item in the Roku box is the little remote control.

One cord to the power outlet and the rest is all generated through our home wireless network. It is magic. I am the technical goddess in our house and now that we don't have teenage boys living at home I was a bit worried about what snags I might run into but was able to install and get it all working in less than 15 minutes.

My husband is a constant channel surfer and he won't be able to do that with this set up as far as I can tell. I'm happy about that! I hardly ever watch TV with him because he is always changing the channel in the middle of what we're watching. He's either avoiding commercials or trying to actively watch two or three shows at once. We still probably won't agree on what to watch so we'll retreat to separate TVs most of the time.  

Friday, February 16, 2018

Quilt Retreat Sewing

My quilt retreat last weekend was SEW MUCH FUN!
Three nights and four days of nonstop sewing.

Typical me...I went with the king-sized version of this pattern so it was tough to find a space at the retreat large enough to layout all the blocks. I got the blocks sewn into rows but still have to add sashing between the rows and a piano key border. Not hard but time consuming at this size. 

I absolutely love how the Bali tiles look with a little triangular border around each. I ordered a fat quarter of Hoffman 1895s that matched the center applique designs. 

The quilt pattern is a freebie from the Hoffman website called, "Twinkle
I actually downsized the pattern...that rarely happens! But I plan to do some intensive quilting to enhance the Hawaiian applique look even though it is actually a print and not an actual applique. I'm hoping it makes a great wall hanging to compliment my tropical king-sized quilt!

The construction method led to a collection of mini-half square triangles.
I do love to play with those little triangles.

One idea for blocks.

Another block idea...I liked the spikes...reminded me of flower petals.

Then I tried setting them up as a border...nope...didn't thrill me. But I did think some kind of border that repeated the colors of the blocks would be a good thing.

A row of triangles works! Simple but a bit of a challenge to piece all those triangles. I am using Bonnie Hunter's ruler that allows me to cut the triangles from 2-inch strips with the long edge on the horizontal grain of the fabric and not the bias. 

All those little leftover HSTs are getting made into star blocks. I have a general idea for a layout but waiting until I get the main quilt done to see how much fabric I have left. I bought the background fabric over 10 years ago at a Kauai quilt shop. I have never seen it anywhere else so I know I can't get anymore. Another reason I decided to downsize the quilt design. I would have been cutting it close to make the quilt as originally designed.

I took this quilt to retreat hoping I would hand stitch the binding in the evenings but I just kept machine sewing until I couldn't keep my eyes open. It was definitely a weekend of working with bright colors. I find in the winter months I crave color.

The next quilt retreat is in early May and I need to have my Hawaiian applique quilt done. 
It is good to have a deadline. I have a quilt kit cut and ready to go for that retreat. It was a kit I didn't get to this time. So I am technically ahead in my preparation for the next retreat. Nice!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Tropical Colors for a Winter Day

Every day the suns gets a little higher in the sky. I took this photo on Friday, January 26th at 12:38 p.m. It will be fun to try and check the sun's location in a few days. Today there was bright sunshine standing in the same spot...just one day later.

I am still unpacking from our Kauai trip. I bought a stack of Robert Kaufman tropical batiks.
which got soaked in hot water for a couple of days so now they are ready to be ironed.

I also picked up this pattern, "Gimme Diamonds," which I saw made up two years ago in one of the Kauai quilt shops, Vicki's Fabrics. You probably aren't surprised to hear that I have several stacks of thematic fat quarters that would look great in this pattern...big prints that I don't want to cut into little pieces. I have a quilt retreat coming up in a couple of weeks and this will be a fun project to take.

Before we left for Kauai, I ordered a 2017 hardcover, printed book of my blog posts. If you get on the mailing list with Blog 2 Print and wait for a coupon code you can get a pretty good deal.

There are many options for cover designs but I usually pick something very simple. 
You can select a front and back cover photo.

So fun to put this photo of my cat on the back cover. He just barely fits in the top bed of his cat tower. I think I am going to have to custom design a new cat tower...Maine Coon sized!

I need to go back and publish earlier years. This is the third year I've published a book. My 2017 book is just over 100 pages long and cost $37.00. I had a great discount offer of 35% off that brought the price down a nice chunk.

I keep trying to spend some time on the computer working with EQ 8. There is a new way to import fabric images so the size of the design is kept in proportion. My pets keep sabotaging me when I sit down to work. Usually it is the dogs wanting to go outside. But yesterday Eli just didn't want to let me work on my computer. 

He exemplifies, "Catitude."

My Material Girls quilt group has a panel challenge we need to have finished by early May. It took me months to select this set of Hoffman layercakes printed to mimic Hawaiian applique. I would really like to preview a couple of design ideas on EQ though I did find a free pattern on the Hoffman website that might be one I can adapt to my needs. Again...working it up in EQ would be nice but I'm getting a little worried...I expect the quilting to take a great deal of time too! I can't discuss all my ideas as I think it is supposed to be a surprising reveal. 

I did finish the last Santa in the Pirate Santa set, Jamaica Santa.

The animals are all sleeping. 
Hope I can spend some more time on the computer before they get stir crazy.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Alaska Winter Escape to Kaua'i

Thank goodness this is not how our vacation on Kauai started but we were there for this bit of drama. 

I hadn't even had a cup of coffee yet when our cell phones started squawking this message. My husband was walking on the beach and I was in our rental house wondering just what I should do. I read the message several times. 

"This is not a drill. This is not a drill. This is not a drill."

All four sides of the exterior walls of our rental house were huge glass picture windows. Not even close to being a place to seek shelter. I thought it was odd that the sirens installed all over the island for tsunamis were not going off...and it was so quiet and peaceful at our rental house I just couldn't believe a nuclear weapon was inbound. So the next thing I did was google it! And I found a couple of twitter messages from folks who had called the civil defense authorities who said it was a false alarm. That satisfied me. I went back to making my coffee and waited for my husband to return. 

It was a different scene at ground zero on Oahu. How terribly frightening for so many people. It was ridiculous how long it took for an all-clear message to be released. I even checked all the local television stations and they were scrolling the missile alert  message for at least 15 minutes.

National emergency over...time to get back to living the good life!

We rented a home through VRBO on the north shore of Kauai, in an almost non existent town called Haena. Not beach front but a very short walk to the sandy shore. 

We had a mountain view. Perfect for a couple that is used to living on a mountainside.

The back edge of the property backs up to an agricultural tract. 

We had a few cows to watch for just a few minutes now and then as they rambled past our lanai.

When we weren't at the beach, I spent all of my daylight hours on our completely secluded lanai, stitching and listening to audible books. 

It took me about 10 days to get a little tired of that routine and anxious to get back home.

We were on Kauai for 14 days and the last three were pretty wet. 
I got a lot of projects done and was a bit worried I might run out of projects to keep me busy. 
Here is what I got done.

A giraffe ornament.

An elephant ornament.

A lion ornament. 
So nice to have some pretty green leaves for my photos.

I really made great progress on my set of 2017 Pirate Santas.

Barbados Santa

Trinidad Santa

And I also finished four redwork mini Christmas squares.

I also took a laptop computer so I could start learning the new EQ 8 program but I should have just left that at home. I read my emails in the morning and that was about all I did with that silly computer. As it should be when on a vacation.

Our first night home, sleeping in our own beds, we were welcomed back to Alaska with the biggest earthquake in the state since we moved here. At our home, the quake was just a constant, gentle shaking that is only memorable because it lasted for so long. 

The map below indicates the "shake zone." 
We were on the outer ring. 
On the edge of another disaster. 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 in Review

I have been enjoying reviewing my projects from 2017. I got so much done even though I felt like my quilting got ignored most of the summer. Dark, cold winters have their advantages...great quilting weather.

I always hope to get 12 pieces quilted in a year. I haven't made it yet...maybe in 2018.

Quilts completed in 2017

Northwoods Stars, 73 x 89-inches. I believe the top was pieced in 2012.

Chugach Mountain Hike, 104-inches square, top pieced in 2012.

Meadow Batiks or Practice #5. Top pieced in summer of 2014.

And two sets of pillow shams. 
I had orphan blocks for the centers from king-sized quilts I made many years ago.

Shams to match my Iditaquilt...on my bed now for winter.

A fairly recent quilt top, pieced in April of 2016. Hunter's Seaholly Star, 58 x 76-inches.

And my most amazing project of  the year...binding finished last night, 
Full Bloom,  80 x 96-inches. I bought the kit from Hancocks of Paducah in April of 2015. I started gluing the flower appliques a year ago, pieced it in May of 2017 and pulled it off the quilting frame on December 1st. 

Pieced quilt tops completed in 2017

My first Bonnie Hunter mystery, En Provence. I made mine a little smaller.
69 x 87-inches

Breakfast Club Mystery 2016. I finished it in April
Fruit Rollups, 57 x 75-inches

From the fabric scraps of the mystery quilt I made this mini top,
Cathedral Light, 40-inches square.

Chain Log Cabin 71 x 89-inches. 

Another mini top made from the scraps of a larger quilt top.
Tumbling Leaves, 34 x 35-inches

Gifts Wrapped, 64 x 88-inches

Finished this afternoon, Breakfast Club Mystery 2017
72 x 88-inches

Bucilla Kit Finishes for 2017

Nordic Santa Stocking

Two sets of Nordic Santa Ornament kits

Snow Garden Stocking

Snow Garden Ornametns

Gnome Stocking

Gnome Ornaments

Sports Santa Ornaments

Santa's Mailbox Stocking

Candy Express Stocking

Candy Express Ornaments

Cross Stitch Ornament Completions for 2017

Renaissance Santa set

Garden Santa

Wildlife Santa

Musical Santa

Birdhouse Santa

Upcoming...planned projects for 2018...