Friday, December 22, 2023

Wrapping Up 2023

It's always great to look back at my photos and see how much I've accomplished since my last blog post.  I finished the top, "Grand Isle," which is a Whirligig Designs pattern. 

All Tonga batiks from Timeless Treasures. I bought this as a kit from Hancocks of Paducah. 

I used the Creative Grids specialty ruler to create the Cat's Cradle block. I really gave me accurately pieced blocks so I had lots of nice points when putting the blocks together.

In the evenings, I worked on handwork for several UFOs.

Power cords on irons...

Pins in tomato pin cushions. Tiny buttons will be the pin heads.

And needles were added to the sewing machines. 

All ready for me to quilt. 

Then I tackled a Nancy Halvorsen quilt design.  Not much embroidery needed on these blocks. Hopefully I will get these blocks into a setting in 2024.

And I finished stitching all the names of the chickens and the feet for the chicks.

I'll need to figure how I will set these blocks. Another project for 2024.

Then I did a little kit prep on some Kaffe Fassett fabrics I just had to buy after seeing so many great Kaffe quilts at the Houston Quilt Festival.

I paired a Kaffe jelly roll with some Indah batiks in my stash. 

When I saw the Tapestry quilt pattern in Kaffe fabrics I bought some sale fabrics on Hancocks to make that top. The two blocks that make up the design are actually pieced on a paper foundation. It required some fancy cutting which was easily done wrong if you forgot to angle the fabric just right. Yes...I made that mistake several times but had enough fabric to get it all cut out. I even made one of each block to ensure I was correct.

I'm planning to give the Kaffe quilts as gifts.

Speaking of gifts. The Material Girls group I am in had a Christmas luncheon and gift exchange. I made a project bag with some quilting themed fabric I've had for many years. I'm got enough fabric to make five more.

In my stash I also had the perfect sewing themed fabric that worked great for the back side that has a large mesh pocket.

I did manage to finish the 2023 set of Mill Hill Santa ornaments, Down Under Santas. 

I have to mention the biggest news of 2023. My husband retired in November from FedEx. He had been a pilot with them for 37 years. Below is him landing an MD-ll for the last time in Anchorage.

No major plans upon hubby's retirement. A new phase in life we will have to navigate through.

Saturday, December 2, 2023

Wrapping up November Happenings

 The highlight of November was getting to meet up with my dear friend Cecile who traveled from France for the Houston Quilt Festival.

Cecile has a blog, Patchwork Inspirations and an instagram page, patchwork_inspirtations. She is also an ambassador for the magazine, Quilt Mania. She’s very busy! 

I wanted to share my love of By Annie patterns by making Cecile a set of project bags. I had planned to make two bags but it turned out I had enough fabric to make four bags which gave her a couple to pass onto another of our friends who was not at the show.

I’m planning to make a lot more of these…for myself and friends. I think they make a great gift. I made myself a bag last year and really like using it.

The Houston festival was so much smaller than when I started going to it in the 1990s. I’m sure the advantage of online shopping has a lot to do with the shrinking size of the vendor section. Even the quilt show seemed smaller.  Very little batik to be found there. I bought one kit that had a funky template.

By Annie had a wonderful booth and I did buy some bag making supplies and a few patterns. I also spent a minute talking to Annie. She is such a lovely person and the story behind her company is so inspirational. 

One of her new releases was a wallet-purse. I bought some navy blue cork fabric at the show for it. Still searching my batik stash for a coordinating fabric for the lining. 

On the last day of the show, Sunday, the vendor section is absolutely empty of shoppers. There is also a lot less to buy.  I stopped in Scott Flanagan’s booth and talked with him for a few minutes. If he has a design in a magazine it is an automatic buy for me. He works in mostly batiks so that’s part of the draw for me. He has a great blog where he shares a free quilt pattern in a sew-along format during the summer. You know I don’t get much sewing done in the summer but I always print up the weekly pattern releases. He has at least three books he has published with Annie’s Quilting. I already had, “Charming Jelly Roll Quilts.” I picked up a signed copy of one of he new releases, “Jelly Roll Quilts for All Season.”

I did make some progress in November on my Grand Isle quilt. All the blocks are done and waiting patiently on my design wall for me to make them into rows. I think that’s my least favorite part of quilt construction. 

I finished both the Bucilla stockings I wanted to get done for this Christmas season. I made one to hang at my house for 3-year-old Kate. 

The background fabric is also the fabric for the lining of the stocking. It’s probably close in “age,” to the Bucilla kit from 1996.

Kate’s sister, Kara, is 10-months old and I finished the stocking to hang at their house, “Santa’s Unicorn,” from 2020. 

I had a great metallic batik in my stash for the lining of the Unicorn stocking. 

I’m working a little every day to get all my Christmas decorations in place. I have such an emotional attachment to every piece…slows me down but I really enjoy getting everything out. 

Here are nine of the 66 stockings from Bucilla kits I have hanging around the house.

I have a small tree for the set of 50 animals paired up as male and female for Noah’s Ark. I keep tweaking this tree every year. 

So I know there are 50 Bucilla ornaments on the Noah’s Ark tree. But I haven’t counted the Bucilla ornaments on our 9-foot tree.

Thought I would share a little “Day in the Life,” photos. We have had a nice bit of snow so far. There are always warming trends to wreak havock on the roads. It’s a bummer when your driving home and at the bottom of the mountain…and the only road up our mountain…you are stopped by this.

Apparently this truck pulling a trailer was driving up the mountain when it started sliding backwards and jack-knifed to block the road. It created about a 30 minute delay before they finally got the truck unhitched and opened one lane. 

Too much drama with winter driving!

The only critter I’ve captured on the camera is this spruce grouse just outside the kennel fence.

On one of my walks while staying in Houston I was treated to a blue heron sighting.

Time to get off the computer and tackle more decorating.

Friday, November 10, 2023

I Can Explain

I was busy in October. No time for blogging and I didn’t spend much time on social media.

I had three quilt retreats in October.

Sew Much Fun!!!

Most exciting of all...I finished a quilt in October. 

This was a kit I bought at a quilt shop in Anchorage at a screaming low price. The pattern is, "Take Flight," from Patti's Patchwork. The fabric line is, "Soar," from Northcott.

 It's a small lap size, 47 1/2 x 66 1/2-inches. Might be just the right size for my grandson someday. 

Back to the retreats.

The first retreat was a daytime retreat, three days from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at my local quilt shop, Twisted Sisters. Several of the ladies in the group are loosely related so we call it the Sisters’ Retreat. We currently meet three times a year.  

 I was a monogamous stitcher and started a new project I had kitted up a couple of summers ago. I was compelled to buy this pattern after watching a video from Jordan Fabrics 

I did mine in patriotic batiks. This is a layer cake pattern, very easy but the spikes are cut from 1 3/4” strips…I messed up a few times and cut 1 1/2” strips. Easy to recover from the scraps but a little annoying. I finally marked my cutting ruler with some colored tape to avoid that mistake.

I didn’t finish that top until the next retreat with the Material Girls. This is the group I do a four-day retreat at a B&B in Wasilla.  This group also has three retreats per year. 

I'm calling this quilt, "Sparklers on the 4th." Another small quilt, 59 1/2 x 71-inches

One of the retreat gifts I received was all the precut pieces to make this adorable pumpkin block. Since I am known as a batikaholic, my kit was all batiks. Sew thoughtful.

My third project was starting a kit I had cut out at least a year ago.

I  bought the pink version from Hancocks of Paducah. When I read through the directions (before I cut anything), I noticed there was an option to use a "Cat's Craddle," ruler from Creative Grids. I gave it a try and the ruler gets a thumbs-up from me. 

I had to make over a hundred Cat's Craddle blocks so I think it was worth the expense. As you can see, I had very crisp points with the aid of the tool.

The third retreat was a day time retreat for two days...again at my local quilt shop so only 15 minutes from my house. This is a new retreat group for me, "Sew What." Several ladies from the Breakfast Club are in this retreat group. I was very excited to sew with my buddies again. Most of these ladies are from Anchorage and the Breakfast Club stopped meeting almost two years ago. 

I finished most of the components for the Grand Isle kit.

I found a free pattern online from Sandy Gervais, Fall Ya All
My gift for the retreat was a copy of the pattern and a kit. 

I love these four little blocks.

Below is my collection of blocks from my two October retreats this year and the row of pumpkins is from the Material Girls retreat in October 2022.

I could have a fun little sampler quilt top someday...several fun free quilt patterns on the internet that might make some fun kits at future fall retreats.

We made a fun little project each day at the Sew What retread. 

A tulip basket made from two layer cakes and a couple of buttons.

And a little wallet. I think this took two fat eights to make, plus a snap.

I think we paid a little bit for the supplies, $15, which also included some treats and a special pincushion which I forgot to bring home. I was the first to leave and I'm sure I will get it from my table mate the next time I see her (Christmas party in December.)

Just a little recap of my other project. I finished another Halloween cross stitch, "The Boys are Back in Town." Those buttons from Just Another Button Company always get me to, "add to cart." 

I had several retreat gifts that were added to my fall decorations. The little easel with the mini leaf wool patch and the pumpkin mug rug were from the Sisters' retreat.  

And I received on more mug rug at the Sister's retreat, a witch's hat.

I shared with the ladies that I could use a black cat mug rug...

and a ghost mug rug. Just trying to give them some ideas for next fall.

I also need to share my completed set of the Halloween mantel series from Merry Stockings.

It looked great with my Halloween decorations.

I had a timely critter visit in late September. All summer I have been listening to a screeching owl. He has woken me up several times. I was sitting on the couch doing handwork one evening when I heard that owl screeching again! I looked up and saw him looking right back at me! He was perched on the handrail of our deck. It was not quite dark outside and I didn't want to scare him away by moving so I very slowly lifted my phone to try and get a couple of photos.

Not the best quality...but you can see him.

I did move to try and get a better shot and he flew away.  A lovely specimen of the Great Horned Owl. 

Sew much more to share. I went to the Houston Quilt Festival the first weekend of November. I'll save that for my next post. 

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Rain, Rain Go Away

If you are looking for your missing rain in your area…I found it! I thought last summer/fall was the wettest ever…nope. I have moss growing behind my ears. My grass does look really nice. 

Through the brief breaks in rain I forged on to complete my landscaping work with the rock I had left.

My sweet boy, Logan, is enjoying the new rocked area. Those man hole covers make a rather pleasant place to sit and keep watch on our part of the world.

I finished a quilt…except for the binding. Just in time for changing up the quilts around the house to fall and Halloween themes. This is a free pattern from the  Fort Worth Fabric Studio. The borders are not part of the pattern.

My Kauai chicken quilt is coming along. All the chicken parts are glued in place…ready for me to top stitch. I decided to give all of them Hawaiian names.

I will embroider the names and the feet for the baby chicks.

Two more tops got finished. A cotton batik top…

and a rayon batik top.

I'm hoping to finish a few projects for Halloween decorating.

The Merry Stockings Halloween Mantel series is underway.

Such a cute kit to work on in the evenings. Lots of tiny satin stitching in these monster faces.

I was really obsessed with finishing a cross stitch project that included some really cute buttons from Just Another Button Company. I have a cauldron décor piece I plan to use for displaying.

This project was pieced on a 30 count linen...always a challenge for me to stitch on linen since I stitch in hand...not in a hoop. I started this with DMC flosses over a year ago and didn't like it so I went through the effort to track down all of the specialty hand dyed flosses. As I was stitching with the hand dyed flosses I hated them in several areas where the variations in the colors just didn't work. So I went back to DMC in a few areas. Also had to resort to using a hoop for the moon...all the pale yellow floss showed any imperfections in my stitching. 

My other cross stitch finish was this cute witch, Batty Belinda. Her broom was a nice little challenge. I ordered a variety pack of metallic chenille sticks and twisted a black and purple one to make the handle. I also resorted to hot gluing all the parts together...something I abhor doing but I just couldn't get everything secured with hand stitching.

The next series of photos are a mamma moose and her twin calves crossing the road on an evening when I was driving home. Most of our days are very gloomy and dark with all the rain we have been sorry for the murkiness of the is the reality lately...which does make spotting wildlife tricky while driving. I saw three dark objects that were moving as I was driving and knew I was coming up on some animals so I slowed down. The speed limit is 55 mph on this road. 

Mamma crossed.

Then one of the calves..

Finally, the second calf took his sweet time to cross the road.

The winter forecast...this pattern of extreme precipitation will continue...which means a lot of snow. Temperatures are dropping into the high thirties at night. The leaves are changing color and starting to drop. I'm just never ready for winter to arrive...feels like we are skipping fall.