Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Little Things

As it often happens when I sit down to do something I should do, like quilt the Hands2Help quilt that's been basted for a month or better, I find something else that seems infinitely more interesting.  Like a pile of scraps.

You know I love me some scraps.  These, in particular, were the corners cut off on the diagonal in making the X blocks for this quilt.  

Now, I didn't set out to be all waste-not-want-not with these trimmings.  I was being rather pragmatic about throwing them away.  In fact, they only came to be on my sewing table after doing time in the garbage can.  I don't know what came over me the day I went to empty the trash and saw them huddled together in a clump, but I took pity and rescued the lot of them in a couple fistfuls.  Thankfully, I hadn't dumped anything too nasty on top of them.

Still thinking I might just warm up for the big, hairy quilting project, I started chain piecing a few dozen half-square triangles through the machine.  And here is where I warn you that chain piecing is a slippery slope, y'all.  

Next thing you know you're finger pressing, then you're trimming dog ears, and then—oh no, she didn't!—you fire up the real iron like you mean some business, and pretty soon you're admiring all those cute widdle things!  And it all just follows like a train wreck from there.  You cannot look away.

Hence, what we have here are some itty-bitty broken dishes blocks, which will finish at five inches square.  Yes, I'm pretty sure I still have most of my marbles, thanks for asking.

The HSTs sew up at more or less 1-3/4 inches, and if you think I'm crazy enough to trim them all up square, well, you would be right.  I did make the first block without trimming and it was wonky.  Not good wonky, but I-don't-know-if-it's-useable wonky, and that just felt like wasted effort.  So a little work on the front end seemed the better plan.

Starting to think of ways these might go together.  Perhaps on point?  I'm digging that peacock feather fabric with them...

But I'm also kind of crushing on the coppery metallic feather print.

Maybe they could work together, as an inner and outer border?

Just exploring the possibilities.  We'll see where it goes.

How about you?  Do you like to work small?

Before I go, I wanted to give a shout-out to Elizabeth at Such a Sew and Sew, who did a FABULOUS job on her Thoroughly Modern Lily quilt from my pattern.  

She made it for her friend, Eloise, and it is really wonderful!  You can read all about it on her blog, HERE and HERE.

Way to go, Elizabeth!  You make beautiful quilts with so much love and attention to detail.  Thanks for sharing the journey with us!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Spring Things

I heard the doorbell ring before seven o'clock Saturday morning.  Twice.  Since I was still in bed and mostly asleep, I chalked the first ring up to an auditory hallucination.  It's called hypnagogia, and you've probably had it too.

One morning, clear as day, I heard my mother's voice.  This was a couple years after she had passed away.  You know what she said?  "Hey."  That's it.  I became instantly awake and my eyes flew open, expecting to see her standing there next to the bed.  That's how real it seemed.  But she wasn't there and I was sort of disappointed she didn't have more to say.  Not even "Hey, hand me my cigarettes," or "Hey, you're going to be late."  Just, "Hey."

Anyway, this isn't about that.  Back to reality, the doorbell had indeed rung, and it was my neighbor letting me know that the duck eggs had hatched!


I grabbed my camera and went to see for myself.  Sure enough, in front of the nest were 9 or 10 shells where Mama Mallard had apparently rolled the empty eggs out onto the grass after the ducklings hatched.


She was sitting on her nest, all fluffed up and hissing (sort of how I had felt a few minutes before).  I couldn't see any fuzzy babies or hear any peeps, but she was undoubtedly keeping her new brood warm and dry underneath her.

I went back in the house, figuring I'd check on her again in a little while.  I knew she wouldn't hang around long after the ducklings hatched.

One hour later, they were all gone!  They done r-u-n-n-o-f-t!


I had wanted to see them all waddling off with their mama, but it wasn't to be.  I even got in the car and drove around the neighborhood looking for them, but no luck.  Oh well, I'm glad they all seem to have made it out okay.


It's sure been a lovely spring so far.  This past week the lilacs and flowering trees bloomed, and the fragrance in the air is divine.


My daughter drove up for a visit on Mother's Day, which was so nice.  I always enjoy our time together.  She took me flower shopping to pick out whatever I liked.  We found a couple things to put into a pot for the deck.


Outside, the daffodils are looking good.  

Not to be outdone, the African violets are putting on a show inside as well.



I even enjoy seeing the 'shrooms after a rain.  So much beauty and fresh possibilities this time of year!



Friday, May 8, 2015

Marei's Scrappy Mountain Majesties

Friends, I have nothing much to show for myself this week, but a couple of backings pieced and a binding cut.  And the flower bed mulched. 


But fellow quilter Marei got her Scrappy Mountain Majesties quilt top done, and that deserves a whoop-whoop!

Marei (pronounced "Mary") doesn't have a blog, but you can check out some of her quilts on Flickr here.  I love what she does with scraps!

Check out the closeup of those black and bright prints.  We've got veggies, robots, flip-flops, florals, geometrics, red lips—how awesome is that!  And that text-y light background keeps the whole thing under graceful control and balanced feeling.

Her dog, Scooter, gives it his wag of approval!

Marei is on a mission to MAKE ALL THE QUILTS!  Well, no, that was me getting carried away.  She would like to make all the Bonnie Hunter quilts that strike her fancy, maybe pick her  top 12 favorites and shoot for one a month.

Did I mention she was delusional?  Just kidding, Marei!  Seriously, though, I think she is a very dedicated and goal-oriented person who loves to quilt and enjoys a challenge, and if she says it, I believe she can do it! 

Linking to the Friday linky party, Can I Get a Whoop Whoop?

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Scrappy Mountain Majesties Quilt Top

I finished putting together the Scrappy Mountain Majesties quilt top this week.  I was thinking about whether to add a border or not.  As if this moment, I'm leaning strongly towards "not."

It's about 60 x 75 inches and will make a nice-sized lap quilt.

I hung it in front of the sliding door this morning for a stained glass effect.

Pretty cool!

You get the idea.

One more, though.  :)

What makes me happy about this quilt—well, there are lot of things, but one of them—is that I used some interesting pieces of fabric from stash.  I didn't feel like I had enough variety of light fabrics on hand, and I was close to grabbing the car keys and making a dash to the fabric store on one or two occasions, but ultimately my stubbornness about using only stash and making it work won out.

For instance, here you can see a yellow and white background fabric that is actually little yellow dress forms.  That is a vintage feed sack fabric.  I literally had to remove the chain stitching along the side of the sack to open it up before pressing and cutting into it (I'd soaked and washed it a while back after I first brought it home).  I'm guessing it's from the 1940s or '50s.

The crossed Native American drumsticks print was a vintage cotton curtain I found at a flea market about five years ago.  Then there is a blue and yellow men's shirt fabric among the light fabrics.  Both the sun/moon print and the Kelly green are thrift store finds.  I also used the reverse side of a yellowish-tan fabric as one of the lights, because it was a more compatible shade of ivory versus the right side of the fabric.

I'm so glad my daughter helped me see that putting the pieces together by color could work nicely.  I didn't follow her idea to the letter, but it got me thinking along that line instead of the random way I had intended to go with the piecing.

This is a free Bonnie Hunter pattern, Scrappy Mountain Majesties, which you can find at Quiltville HERE.

I'll be linking to Whoop-Whoop Friday at Confessions of a Fabric Addict.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Random Sandwich

I am working on the Scrappy Mountain Majesties quilt, and it is coming together nicely on the design wall.  I have two more rows to add, plus borders.

Fellow quilter Marei is making one too.  It was her idea, in fact, that we pick a free Bonnie Hunter pattern that neither of us had made yet and make it simultaneously.  I happened to have a few on my bucket list and thought it was a great idea!  Marei doesn't have a blog, but perhaps she will upload some progress pics to her Flickr page at some point (hint-hint). I have seen a sneak peak of her blocks and they are awesome!

These blocks are so fun and quick to make.  I am using all stash and scraps for this quilt.  Some of the light fabrics I'd pulled turned out to be a little too busy, though, so I've had to cull a few and get creative with the remainder, including:
  • a vintage cotton curtain found at a flea market a couple years ago
  • a feed sack fabric, still in the shape of a sack until I cut it apart for this project
  • two thrifted men's shirts
  • a quilting cotton that was a little too yellowish-brown a print on its right side, so I flipped it wrong side out.
She's Back
Mama Mallard has come back this year to nest in the same place in the hosta bed on the north side of the house. She's made herself comfortable among last year's leaves.

Doesn't she look all cosy and camouflaged?  She is very unflappable, that girl.  I did rake the bed out around her this weekend and she didn't budge, just kept a beady eye on me.  I talked to her in soft tones as I raked, not that she really cared.

She's kind of gimpy this year.  I think whatever attacked her eggs last year may have gotten her as well.  She was seen limping around the yard with the drake on her heels before she got on the nest and parked it.  Once the hen starts sitting, she shoos the drake away.  He flies off elsewhere to strut, preen, drink his fill of pond scum, and chase more tail.  At least that's my assumption.  What happens in Duck Vegas stays in Duck Vegas.

Conspiracy Theory
Three strikes and I'm out of underwear.  Let me explain.

I needed new undies, so I headed to Kohl's to buy the brand/style I like.  Wouldn't you know, they didn't have the same ones anymore.  So I bought something similar, same size.  Let's call that size X, where X represents a digit I will not disclose.  Sure, I'll talk publicly about my underwear, but the numeric value assigned to said underwear shall not be named.  Boundaries, y'all.

I have worn X for years.  I've worn X when I weighed less and I've worn X when I weighed more.  X was/is my size.  Theoretically.

When I got home with X size undies, I tried them on, as you do.  They were too tight.  Okay, maybe this style ran smaller.  Strike one.

Went to Penney's and bought a Warner's brand, very comfy looking, similar style, seemingly all the right ingredients to a good pair of knickers.  Make that three pair, because there was a buy two get one free deal.  Swiped my card, took them home, tried them on.  Strike two.

A couple weeks pass, allowing time for my frustration level to decrease, and this time I'm at Walmart looking at the display of drawers.  So pretty.  So inexpensive, comparatively speaking.  And what's this?  "The Best Fitting Panty in the World."  Size X.  Sold!

You guessed it:  Strike three.

I am convinced the Universe has conspired to have me face facts:  Thy bum is bigger.  No longer X but [insert audible gasp] Y, where Y is that size that careens dangerously down the granny panty aisle.

Darn you, Universe.  I bet you go commando.

Monday, April 6, 2015

New Start

I'm not so much in a finishing mood lately, it would appear.  Rather I seem to be nudging each project along bit by bit.  Kicking the can down the road with a top here, a backing there, a couple of quilts basted.  Things will all come together in the end, but right now it's kind of like herding turtles.

Now I've started piecing a Scrappy Mountain Majesties quilt.  I had a little help with that this weekend when my daughter came to visit.

She got acquainted with Brother Everett by sewing a few blocks. 

She had the idea to group by colors on the design wall, which wasn't something that had occurred to me.



Today I made a few more blocks and shifted some of the blocks on the design wall, alternating them.  It's a subtle change while still keeping the flow by color. 

(Oops, I have one turned wrong on the lower right side.)

So we'll see how things continue to go, but I'm liking it so far!

Tonight I'll be rooting for Wisconsin in the NCAA championship game against Duke.  Go Badgers!

And speaking of the Badger State, I am enjoying the music of a new band from Milwaukee, Vinyl Theatre.


Friday, April 3, 2015

Mopped and Basted

Norm mopped the kitchen floor this morning, so you know what that meant?

I could baste a quilt!

And so I did.

I listened to an audiobook while I scrambled around on the floor, taping and smoothing, and poking in my pins. This is a Hands2Help donation quilt, by the way.

I'm on the second to the last in the eight-book Outlander series, An Echo in the Bone, and I'm maybe two-thirds of the way through the book.  Hard to tell with Audible, or at least I don't pay particular attention to how far along I am.

It's been kind of like the story that never ends, partly because I'm a take-my-sweet-time kind of reader/listener (quilter/blogger) with a tendency to distract myself on other things.  Each audiobook is well over 40 hours of narration (actually, two of them were over 55 hours), but that's okay with me because I'm enjoying the ride.  Thanks, Sarah, for giving me the heads up on Outlander a couple years ago!

I binge-watched (twice, in fact) the first eight episodes, which came out on Blu-ray on March 6.  The next season starts tomorrow night on Starz, but since we don't get the Starz channel, I'll have to wait a few months until those episodes come out on DVD/Blu-ray to get my next fix.  Meanwhile, I'll finish the book series.

(Catriona Balfe and Sam Heughan as Claire and Jamie)
I adore all the actors/characters in the TV series.  It is so very well done.  Jamie, Claire, Frank/Jack Randall, Dougal, Colum, etc.—all seem perfectly cast.  Tobias Menzies, who plays dual roles, is every bit as wonderful playing the forlorn Frank as he is the villainous Black Jack Randall. 

(Tobias Menzies as Jack Randall)
And Jamie, played by Sam Heughan, is totally swoon-worthy.  It's like he walked right off the pages of the novel.

The scenery is wonderful, the costumes divine.  So you could say that's been a slight distraction.

Back to reality, though.  I hope you all have a wonderful Easter!