Monday, May 13, 2019

May Happenings

I started May with a major project finish, 50 animal ornaments. Bucilla kit, "Noah's Animals," from 1999. I started the kit in 2014 and didn't even finish one animal when I decided to start a different kit. I'm so glad I stopped shuffling this kit to the back of the line and finally stuck to it. A normal ornament kit has six ornaments so this one kit was like finishing eight ornaments kits. It makes me feel so much better to think of it that way since I usually make 10 to 12 Bucilla kits every year.

I'm moving onto another kit that was opened several years ago with the intention of starting it but the white felt in the kit had horrible brown ink smear marks on it. I found out that kits from this time period had washable ink and I was able to wash the ink off and very faintly see a white stamp.Very difficult to work with the white felt...actually I just make it up as I go! So far not too difficult but there are two candy canes with lots or red stripes to stitch...not feeling good about getting to that part.

I missed the third retreat of the Material Girls quilting season the first weekend of May. (We meet monthly, September through May). At the February retreat the group decided as a challenge project everyone needed to complete a UFO by May. way was that happening in my world. So I am aiming for the October retreat...and I am tackling two quilts and a small quilt from the scraps. I finished the two center sections of blocks for two twin quilts.

I had two Spumoni Hoffman Batik Bali Pops I bought at a great price that were the inspiration for these quilts. 

Too bad this colorway is so old now that I had to seek the "retired Hoffman batiks," section of the online shop Batiks Plus. I have ordered from this site several times and love how quickly they get orders in the mail...and they cut a generous 40-inch yard. Greatly relieve to find enough yardage in stock. 

I ordered the middle blue fabric below for the outer 6-inch border. I had to fight my tendency to design a pieced border. These quilts really need to get done and on twin bunk beds in one of my guest rooms. 

Several years ago I had also already started playing with the scrap HSTs leftover from block construction. I can hardly wait to start playing with what looks like hundreds of mini HSTs. I thought I would make some throw pillows or pillow shams when I pieced these but I'm toying with a wall hanging. The guest bedroom could use one of those too! 

And the real challenge to getting any quilting done is gardening season is upon us!!! Last week was all about gathering. Now the slow process of  hardening off the plants for the intense daylight and cooler temps. Memorial Day weekend is the traditional "safe time," to start putting plants in the ground.

While cleaning up around the yard I noticed a boulder toppled on top of my decorative mini Eiffel Tower. I'm going to need some wire cutters to get it out. 

And the bear pictures are starting to pop up whenever I check Facebook. One of my neighbors caught this photo of a very dark grizzly bear about a mile from our houses. This is a three-year-old that is still with its mom. I don't have a picture of her...yet...but she was there and that is how I can confirm this is a grizzly and not a huge black bear The mom is very blond so I'm guessing papa bear is really dark. I been watching this cub and its mother the past two summers so I feel as though they are almost family. I'd like them to remain rather aloof.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Checking In For April

Looks like I am only going to get one blogging session in for April. But don't think I've just been sitting around and eating chocolate bonbons all day. There is "Spring Cleaning," and "Earthquake Repair" to tackle. 

I put in some grout where two types of tile meet at my sewing room threshold. For years I have struggled with a wooden piece for this area and it never wanted to stay in place. Such a simple solution! 

There are a few large cracks from the November earthquake. My handyman started filling them. Weather has kept him from coming to finished the job last week...more about that later.

For three days I've spent most of my time with a caulking gun. Between prepping and applying, my backside has gotten a good little workout. I'm very thankful for our hot tub!

April started out so remarkably warm and sunny....for days...then two weeks. All snow was gone from our yard. My husband was having a blast flying in his little Piper Super cub. I managed to get a photo of him from our deck on March 30th.

Then Mother Nature reminded us that we live in Alaska.

Wednesday, April 17th, I woke up to this.

I've had three mornings like this with 3 to 9-inches of snow. I've shoveled the deck every day even though much of the snow melted everyday as temps got above freezing in the afternoons. Nothing worse that snow that softens and then re-freezes overnight. 

Before the snow came and all the house projects, I did work on a few quilting projects.

I finished three baby-sized versions of the March Breakfast Club project. I didn't start out with that intention know how things can multiply in your sewing room. I had cut out enough blocks to make the large original version when I thought it looked too much like a baby quilt. There are always great ideas from the other quilters at Breakfast Club!

I've been collecting Indah Batiks from Hoffman for this quilt by Elizabeth Hartman. Found a great sale on the internet a while back and I have finally gotten them all ready to go. I always pre-wash any fabric fat-quarter size or larger and iron with sizing before I cut for a quilt. Sadly, I don't think I will get any farther on this one until next fall. Too many other projects in front of it!

I really want to get a quilt on the frame to start stitching. I have a patriotic top I designed and pieced a few years ago that I would really like to get quilted before the 4th of July and since my pace is rather slow I'm making it my priority. But there was a reason I had let the top age...I didn't like one particular color placement in the final top...and it really bugged me as I started thinking about how I  would quilt it. I just had to fix it! So I spent a couple of afternoons replacing one piece in eight blocks. 

Below are the pieces I removed laying on the areas where I pulled them from, marked with the "X." Not the most convenient location for making changes.

Below is the area now...just as I want it...I know...too hung up on a small issue but when looking at the whole quilt top it is kept drawing my eye and I didn't want it drawn to that area!

I'm starting to play with quilting designs. At least I have a general idea of how I want the movement to play on the top. Always a challenge to get that feel without starting and stopping a million times or making thread color changes. 

I officially finished the little wall hanging of a Carpenter's Star. I wanted to share one of my machine quilting tips. When I am all done...occasionally I find a thread loop from some bad tension. I really hate that when it happens. If it's just a little loop here and there I use this tool to pull it to the center of quilt. It's a tiny crochet hook called, "Soft Touch Thread Pic." Sold as a tool to remove dark threads behind light colored fabrics after you are all done with quilting. I also use it to pull snagged sweater threads to the wrong side. 

One last look at the Carpenter's Star quilt. I need to finish repairing wall cracks before any quilts get hung on walls.

Now I am going to do some "Mom" bragging! 
I've done lots of family trips this year and I still have one more in May. 
 Last week we went to Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas to visit our son and his wife for, "Drop Night." It's a big party night three weeks before graduation when the student pilots find out what aircraft they will go on to fly after pilot training. Each class makes a satirical class video that pokes fun at their year together going through pilot training. Their class video's theme was a rock concert so my son was dressed as a concert attendee. 

My son is going to fly F-15s.

I am so proud of him!

Here he is getting an official photo on a T-38 jet used at pilot training to introduce fighter fundamentals.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Closing Up the Month of March

There were some great projects ladies shared at the Breakfast Club.

Here is Meg's One Block Wonder.
 I scolded her for not having the original, uncut fabric with her so we could compare.

Jackie's adorable Bears in Birch Trees quilt. I don't know the actual name of this pattern.
Her lucky grandson will get this beauty.

Joyce made two iron caddies, one for Marlene and...

one for herself.

This is Jackie's quilt from our January pattern, Rocky Road, from the book,
 "Perfect 10 Quilts," by It's Sew Emma. A layer cake pattern.

This month's project was, "Make It 8!" 
The pattern calls for a feature fabric, background fabric and 8 fat quarters. 

Marcia's class sample with a lovely border treatment.

Rona had her top completed prior to class. A lot of these ladies meet every Tuesday to sew which is great for me because I get to think about options for mine.

Joyce had her feature blocks completed before class and got the fat quarter blocks done and all her rows sewn together. 

Laura made her quilt before class and cut the number of blocks to make a lovely baby-sized version. 

After seeing Laura's version I decided my blocks looked perfect for a baby quilt. I might actually make two or three baby quilts since I had already made 17 feature blocks when I came to this decision. And I have plenty of background fabric to accommodate three baby quilts. 

I couldn't wait to tryout my blocks on the design wall when I got home. It wasn't quite like I pictured in my head once I saw it on the wall. I loved the colors but the large sizes of the fat quarter fabrics overwhelmed my feature fabric blocks. usual...I took an easy pattern and made it so much more difficult
because now I had to pull out my seam ripper.

Below...a new version with dark purple 2-inch centers.

After seeing the other quilts made in this pattern I came away with the observation that the 2-inch center square color made a big difference in the quilts I liked the most.

This is the same version with yellow centers.

A little hard to see the moose in my feature fabric so here is a closer look.

I even made changes to my design plan for the quilt on my midarm frame. I don't like it as much as my initial drawing but because of all the seams in this tiny area I was having trouble executing it as I imagined so I simplified and succumbed to stitching in the ditch along all my HST 1 1/4-inch squares. Tedious. Two more corners to tackle.

I'll finish all the black areas before moving to the star center.
 I was hoping to finish it by the end of today but it's too pretty outside to spend the whole day quilting. The top is just under 40-inches square.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Spring Groove

We are having a very warm March. 
Most of our snow is gone. 
I'm all for an early spring.

I have all the blocks made for the, "Baby Honu," quilt.  I need to move some turtles around...or maybe they will move around for me.  I'll have to check my blog, but I think I bought this kit in 2016. I don't know why I bought the kit because I proceeded to change over half the fabrics.

I am planning to attend Breakfast Club this week. The quilt shop website shows they will be making the pattern, "Make It 8." You take eight fat quarters, a background and a theme fabric. It was so easy to pull this group from my stash that I figure it was just meant to be that I attend this class. 

I got three more animal sets done for the Bucilla kit, Noah's Ark Animals. The monkeys and the deer went pretty quick but the giraffes took four evenings. So stinking cute! One of the gals on my Facebook page suggested I do a theme Christmas tree next year with all the animal ornaments. 
Love that idea!

Will I actually get a quilt on the frame and done by the end of March?
 It could happen.
 I have spent a long time pondering a quilting design for this top...a couple of years.
 I am finally ready to commit to stitching.
 It is just under 40-inches so I can do it! 

I find all that doodling before I start stitching helps with my muscle memory when I actually step up to the machine.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Project Updates

Thank you all for the lovely thoughts you shared with me on the passing of my father. 

My father chose to be cremated and asked my sons to fly to a location of their choosing to spread his ashes in Alaska. My father always spent several weeks with us in the summer until last summer when he became too ill to travel. We will be celebrating his life this summer when all of us will be in Alaska together. As we say in Alaska, or actually in Hawaii, we will, "talk story," about GP. 

I'll be traveling soon to spend some time with my mom but I have a few days to organize projects in my studio. Busy work helps the mind sort through thoughts.

My recent Bucilla project is turning into a long term event. I am making a set of 50 Noah's Ark animal ornaments. There are twenty-five different animals, a male and female for each type. I am past the half way point. Ten more sets to make. I filled up a fat quarter with the first 15 sets.

Hubby and I spent 10 days in Palm Springs in February. I finished three more cross stitch Santa ornaments on that trip. We encountered cooler temperatures than normal and a couple of rainy days so I never quite got around to taking photos of our vacation locale. We will try visiting again next winter and give the city a second chance.

Below is the set, Victorian Santas: Saint Nicholas, Sinter Klaas and Father Christmas.

I toted this UFO, "Baby Hono," to the February quilt retreat but didn't touch it. The Material Girls set a challenge at the retreat to work on a UFO before our May retreat dates. I guess this is what I am going to tackle for the challenge. The turtle bodies are 3-D with a shell stitched on top. The body parts are not stitched down. I had the bodies created when I stopped working on the quilt so I officially finished 16 blocks this week.

Next up is to make 14 Monkey Wrench blocks.
 I am already thinking of making changes to the pattern...I tend to do that!

Monday, March 4, 2019

Tough Day

My father, retired Gunnery Sergeant, USMC, Johnny Tex Jones, died this morning.
 He had advanced bladder cancer and was also suffering from dementia, both possibly related to chemical exposure in the drinking water while we lived on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. He served two tours on the front lines of the Vietnam War but only told me silly stories about stealing ice cream from the Air Force. My husband and I called him King Putz...he was always working on a project. One of his most successful projects was restoring a 1978 Corvette. My sons called him, "GP," short for grandpa. He loved that special nickname. He took great pride in his two grandsons...they were who and what he talked about the most the last few months of his life. He always called me princess. I couldn't have had a more loving and supportive father. He had many obstacles in his life but he never quit moving forward.

Monday, February 11, 2019

My February 2019 Retreat Projects

It always seems to take twice as long to work on a project than I estimate when packing my retreat stash. I started my retreat by joining blocks to make a twin quilt. I had enough blocks to make two twins but only got one done. I still need to come up with a border to finish this top.

I made great progress on the Bigfoot pattern from Elizabeth Hartman called, "Legend." 
The colors are a little off in this photo. There are 14 tree blocks in total and I did get all of them done. I need to track down more background fabric to work in the quote, "All who wander are not lost." 

And I finished up my retreat by getting this mini quilt top done. These are ornament redwork blocks from the Australian designer, Lynette Anderson. The series is titled, "Sweet Christmas." She did offer a free pattern to set the blocks as a quilt but I made up a different design. I'm trying to talk myself into hand quilting this one. I have done a bit of hand quilting but it has been several years. It is 28-inches square so not too daunting

I took two other projects that didn't get touched but at least I didn't run out of options.

There is just something extra special about sewing in a room full of other quilters for several days. I will miss the next retreat in May and will have to wait until October for the opportunity to attend again.