19 February, 2020

Progress and Pet Peeves

I've been keeping up with the Temecula Quilt Co.'s  Scavenger Hunt  Sew-along through their blog. So far I've been able to keep up week to week, this week's installment, however, is a bit delayed due to an immense amount of piecing required and the fact that we have two additional people under our roof right now (ages 7 and 9); I have no spare time. But, I'm happy to report that I can easily fall back into a routine established a generation ago of having beds made, rooms tidied, both laundry and dishes done and being dressed and ready for the day-- all before 8:30 AM! But, yes, I tire out quicker than a used to. Mr. Goodneedle says that keeping children is a young person's sport. 😉 Our daughter-in-law is currently experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Holy Land with her parents, the photos that she's shared so far are incredible. So, we have a few extra plates at our table and heads on pillows under our roof at night. It's all good.
And, sew... here's the progress on these log cabin blocks to be added to the above sew-along soon. These will finish to 3.5" I have sixteen done and only need eight more. 
I have managed to squeeze in some time to begin setting some of this Scrappy Sixteen together. I have named this one "Out Of The Box" since there's an illusion of the 16-patches pushing beyond their boundaries as well as the very literal fact that all of these scraps have been rescued from the bin where they've resided for years. They've finally been liberated - out of the box!

Here's more progress-- the current state of affairs with our porch project. Managing to get sub-contractors on the job between rain showers here has been a feat! We've had rain, rain and more rain!
I can't recall ever having daffodils blooming this early before! All these weirdly warm temperatures in the south combining with the afore-mentioned rain has produced blooming way ahead of schedule.
So, Pet Peeves-- as promised. I have a list. You know, those things that can annoy and bug you way too much; yes, I'm guilty of finding annoyances and bothersome occurrences to whine about. #1 The way that tissues are packaged today: I used to be able to go to the store and choose a box of tissues in the box design that I liked, to match the  room where it was being placed. Well, now, it's much more difficult-- they're grouped by fours and bundled with shrink-wrap. The combinations of patterns and colors always includes an outlier that doesn't match anything! 😬 There's no option for single purchase, either. #2.  Using the word "adult" as a verb: "I don't feel like adulting today." To me, this is beyond annoying. I have heard it used but draw the line now that I have seen this phrase emblazoned on T-shirts and bumper stickers. Grow up, people; you are one. #3. Paying for checks to spend my own money. Grrrr. I understand that someone has to pay for them. I write so few checks nowadays that actually having to spend money for 200 checks to be printed seems ridiculous to me. There are no such things as "mini" orders. It looks as though I'll have checks to spare for the rest of my days. I had a fourth, but now I cannot remember, for the life of me, what that was. So, maybe that fourth item on my list was forgetting things! I don't know. Anyway, so here I was with my list of peeves, feeling like I was in charge of owning my own grievances and the sermon on Sunday took my list, chewed it up and spit it out! The sermon text was Matthew 5:21-37, it reads as a guidebook in Jesus' words on how to live. Basically, I decide how to respond to life's annoyances and petty peeves; I can let these little things bother me, weigh me down, rob me of my happiness or, I can take a deep breath, smile at how good I have it, and move on (not sweating the small stuff; and really, truly, it's all small stuff!) to live a life of witness to those around me. Because, when it comes right down to it, we're all human; we have that in common, but we can choose WHO we follow and HOW we follow! Jesus calls us to a new life in God. I was renewed and energized by breathing in and holding on to that simple truth. I've reset my thinker. Can you do that too? Can you toss what's weighing you down and live lighter, happier? It makes a BIG difference; to you and to everyone who's in your life! Give it a try; it's powerful-- and liberating! 
Mr. Goodneedle didn't forget Valentine's Day last Friday. 
See, I do have it good; I know that. 
Life is Good!

Up next: On Her Way

11 February, 2020

In The Loop

Now you can be IN THE LOOP!
I've learned a new trick for burying threads while quilting that is so slick, it needs to be shared. Remember in my last post that I commented about quilting without stopping unless my bobbin ran out? Ah,yes; well, it happens! This photo, left, shows where the bobbin thread ran out and the teeny, tiny needle tracks where yours truly kept stitching before I realized it. It happens to us all. So, in the past, when it was time to tie off and bury those pesky thread ends  I did so with a self- threading needle which I keep handy at the frame. 
I used these with varying degrees of success; sometimes drawing the quilting thread through the top of these needles would shred the thread, causing more of a headache than the thread running out! But, I persevered. I would usually "unquilt" an inch or so, draw the end of the bobbin thread to the surface, tie the top thread and the bobbin thread together, pull these through the self-threading needle and slide them down and into the batting until I could feel (and hear) the knot bury itself inside the batting layer. Then, I would clip the threads at the exit location, flush with the surface of the quilt; done. Replace the bobbin and begin again. My life changed last week when Quiltkeemosabe showed me a new trick; this is too cool to keep to myself, follow along with the numbered photos below and you'll be in the loop too.

She demonstrated this technique using a crewel needle because it has a large eye and a sharp point,  a needle with a large eye is required to accommodate thread which is thicker and stronger (she demo'd with tatting thread). The tatting thread, pictured here in red, is doubled. Notice in photo #3 how the thread's loop is positioned right at the knotted top and bobbin quilting thread; that loop (red thread) is where the quilting thread tails are placed so that the loop will gently pull them in and under the quilt's surface, following the needle, directly down into the batting layer! The threaded crewel needle is then slipped out; it now replaces those finicky self-threading needles at my frame! The next time that you're confronted with burying thread tails remember this easy-peasy trick; you'll be happy that you're in the loop!

Life is Good!

Up next: Progress and Pet Peeves

10 February, 2020

Flower Power

I have another tumbler quilt off the rails, this will be a donation quilt.  I used a new (to me) Pantograph (thanks, Santa!) for this scrappy quilt;  "Flower Child".
It worked out perfectly for this project and is super easy and FAST! Like my old FAST favorite: Loop de Loop, this one is forward motion all the way, no points or starts and stops until one gets to the edge (or runs out of bobbin thread!). Its speedy and fun to do.
Scrappy Charm Tumbler quilt ~ 56" X 64"

The flowers were just the antidote for the lousy, rainy weather we've been inundated with here in North Carolina. We've had ran, rain, and more rain (at least it's not SNOW!) with a rainy forecast for this week to come too. Sadly, this is really impacting the progress on our screened in porch project. 
Raindrops seemed like the natural choice for the backing fabric, "showers and flowers" go together. 
I stitch the tumblers together Leader-Ender style while stitching on other things; they sit in two small baskets beside my machine one for lights, one for darks. I precut the tumblers with the die cutter from a huge scrap basket- leftovers from projects past.  Nothing gets wasted. This system leads to more being sewn together at the same time. SEW-- while that Scrappy Sixteen* comes together (on the design wall) so do more tumbler tops (on chair, under Hannes); we (he shares the sewing chair with me) almost have another one done and ready to quilt! 
* Interesting side-story explaining the delay on SS: I used leftover Essex Linen (from the background of "Dogs in Sweaters", photo below) for the light background fabric in this scrap quilt. I didn't have quite enough. I mail-ordered an additional yard to complete this project after carefully consulting my color-swatch card. Apparently I didn't consult the card carefully enough! The fabric came and it was too creamy, a whiter substitute has been ordered to replace that and the creamy non-match has been shelved. So much for using what's on hand, I feel a little defeated by this blunder but am moving on!
My sweet sewing companion and every day-brightener. 
The power of flowers to cheer on cold, dark and rainy day. 
What's brightening up your space at home today?

Life is Good!
Up next: "In the Loop"

06 February, 2020

Getting it Together

Class sample: Four prequited blocks joined together with lattice strips. 
I can become a procrastinator if the conditions are right; this is not something that I am proud to admit. So, a year or so ago, a dear friend presented me with a large bag of hand quilted sampler blocks that her mother had made back in the 1980s. She asked if I could assemble them for her to present to her almost 92 year old mother. I smiled and agreed. Honestly, I wan't too excited about the task; truth be told, I wasn't sure, at all, how to proceed. I made an initial assessment of the bag's contents; the blocks were randomly stacked inside along with yards and yards of additional fabric. I set the bag out in plain sight-- for a while. Then, the bag moved to a closet; and, finally, to the deep and dark recesses of that space. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Not exactly, I knew they were in there and the guilt of not tackling the project grew exponentially. Quiltkeemosabe told me that she was considering teaching a class at our LQS, a Quilt as You Go class. This class was tailored to those who might want to quilt their blocks individually on their domestic machines, the class would demonstrate how to join quilted blocks. Yes, I told her, I NEED that class!! Last Saturday the class took place, it was exactly the jump-start that I needed! As students we were shown a method of joining quilted blocks with thin lattice strips, I was intrigued by the technique; the lattice strips "joins" become a design element both front and back.
This is the back of the class sample shown above, the finished strips on the front measure 1/2" and, on the back they measure 3/4". There is hand finishing on one side of the strips on the back. My examples show contrasting fabric but, naturally, this could also be done with matching fabric that would blend and be hardly noticeable. 
Energized to begin, I pulled out the decades old sampler blocks, weeded through them, and after a few phone consults with the quiltmaker's daughter we agreed on this lay out. 
The first two, joined with the newly-learned skill. I was off and running. 
Before dinner last evening the top half of the quilt was joined together! Like all tasks that are put off; once begun, this seemed much simpler and faster than I had heaped this up in my mind to be. I am happy with the way this is coming together, even more so, it's a relief to know that soon this will warm the body and soul of the dear lady who made these blocks all those years ago. 

What are you putting off today?

Life is Good!
Up next: "Flower Power"

03 February, 2020

Off The Wall...

I need to re-title this, "Still On The Wall" as not as much progress happened on the Scrappy Sixteen as I had planned. I'm blaming my sinuses for this setback over the last few days. What began as a mild cold lodged itself firmly behind my eyes and resided there for altogether too long. Today is much, much better! Yay!! I wanted to bring attention this morning back to my guiding word this year, "VISION" and my action plan for 2020: to see what's right in front of me. Let's start with this bin of precut 2.5" squares. This is but one bin (of eleven) that wait patiently (all are mostly full, one is beyond full) on pull-out shelves beneath my cutting table. These are the remnants of projects past that have been dutifully (and deliberately) cut into predetermined sizes employing Bonnie Hunter's "Scrap Users System". My precut scraps are even broken up into lights and darks, the bin pictured here is only 2.5" squares of darks, it has a companion bin of 2.5" squares in all light fabric scraps. Instead of thinking of these as "scraps" or "leftovers" I have shifted my thinking to realize that these are really as good as money in the bank-- they're in my fabric savings account and they're collecting interest! If I decided, once upon a time, that these were worth saving, then they're certainly worth stitching! I began to think about just what this bin would be worth to a beginning quiltmaker, someone who was just starting out and had no scraps on hand. That was me-- a hundred years or so ago. Then my thinking swung around to considering who could benefit from these stored scraps and I realized that my hoarded scraps were actually making me miserly. Did I want to be tight-fisted with my resources, those right at hand? NO! And, sew-- (sorry, that was too easy!) I set to work to find fun and simple scrap patterns. This one is a free pattern called "Perfectly Scrappy Sixteen Patch". It goes together quickly (even more so if one remains healthy) and has great visual appeal. What scraps are lurking on your shelves?
One more thing "on the wall". Lynneligh's artwork was chosen to be displayed at school system-wide art show for the winter term. Here's the proud artist and her work, an example of pointillism, at the reception last week. There was an awards presentation following, she represented her school very well. 🥰
From the wall to the table. I made four more placemats for my son's family's kitchen table. You might remember that I posted about this a few months back. Here's the link and the pattern if you're interested. I told my D-I-L that now they can have guests to dinner, this makes a set of eight.
And, since we're putting things on the table: what could be better than a perfectly poached egg on toast? One that is easy-peasy and quick to prepare! I read about this somewhere on Facebook last week and cannot find the recipe from the original source but will share it from memory-- break an egg into a mug or cup (I use a pyrex custard cup) pour 1/2 C of water mixed with 1 TBSP of white vinegar over the egg. Place a saucer over the cup and microwave on HIGH for one minute (this is  for a medium egg, 45 seconds for runny and 1 min, 15 seconds for hard). Remove the egg with a slotted spoon and place onto your buttered toast. Voila! Have fun trying this. 🍽

Life is Good!
Up next: Getting it Together

28 January, 2020

Triangle Tuesday

I'm a sucker for alliteration-- that's why "Triangle Tuesday" sounded so appealing. Yep, I've been stitching up tons and tons of triangles! These triangles are actually composed from squares. Squares marked and chain-stitched into an endless train that will eventually be cut apart into a mountain of half-square-triangles. These are small, the smaller the unit the higher the chances for error -- seams that might be slightly off can make a huge difference in the finished size when these HSTs finish to only 1.5" Here's where the better part of  "Triangle Tuesday" comes in: "Terrific Triangle Tuesday with Tucker Trimmer!"
Each cut-apart HST unit is pressed, toward the dark fabric, and then trimmed up with the Tucker Trimmer; you'd better believe that all those minuscule trimmings on the right side of the photo (above) make ALL THE DIFFERENCE!
Trimmed units, taken to the machine...
...combine for precision like this! 
Careful pressing and trimming with the Tucker Trimmer really do work!
And, sew-- where are all of these half-square triangles going? This is where I stand today after clue #3 in the Temecula Quilt Co. Scavenger Hunt Sew-along; it's going on now. This measures 12" X 45" at this point. This may just be one of the most brilliant marketing moves that I've seen in a long time. I've long been a fan of the Temecula Quilt Co., this sew-along requires the purchase of their latest book to solve the weekly clues. No complaints whatsoever, the book is fabulous and I'll be creating more from their tempting pages. Sticking to my guiding word for 2020-- "VISION", I am only using what I can clearly see in front of me: all of my own stashed and labeled cut scraps (Scrap User's System)! It's all good. And what's even better? Alliteration at its best: Triangle Tuesday with Tucker Trimmer! Use your tools, that's what they're for; you'll be happy with the results!

Life is Good!
Up next: Off the Wall