Friday, June 15, 2018

Teal Zeal

I guess I could’ve titled this post Aqua-something or Turquoise-something, since those are all the colors (not blue but not green) that we’re working with for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge this month. But it’s summer and I’m lazy, so there you have it. Teal.

My scraps this month are tamed as much as they’re going to be. Lots of nice chunks got put away to use for next year or for when I decide what other teal/aqua/turquoise blocks I’ll need for other WIPs.  For now, here’s what I finished up this week to share.

I made 13 - 6” (finished size)  quarter log cabin blocks. It always seems as though I have an odd number of these blocks when I make them. 

This month there will be no birds sewn because that color is not represented in my Birds in the Lattice quilt. So, the final blocks for this month (unless I begin a new project) are my 6” (finished size) crumb blocks. I got seven of them before the smaller scraps ran out, and really didn’t want to cut down any bigger chunks.

So, that leaves me a couple weeks to twiddle my thumbs sew on other things. So, just for the sheer joy of piecing (because I already had all the orange lozenges and a large pile of black and another of white 1.5” squares), I worked on these lozenges.

I was sewing these into 3x2 blocks, then sewing those together. Only I kept going and somehow got the starting colors reversed. But this is still early days in this quilt top, so it will be easy just to add to the bottom part before proceeding. And that little lozenge in the second row, fourth from the left - that has got to come out. That fabric needs black corners. But that, too, is an easy fix. Anyway, I’m liking it. I don’t know when we will have orange month for the RSC - hopefully not next month when I’m gone for half the month - but I plan to work on this pretty heavily this year in order to finish it up by Christmas. It’s already 2 years old. At least 90% of the cutting is done. 

And then, guilt struck. Bruce’s poor Groovy Guitars flimsy shamed me mercilessly (“Having fun piecing, are you? What about me? I need to be appliquéd!"). And finally when I found one of the tiny purple circles that represent a tuning peg, I caved and switched gears yet again.

You may recall, the top looks like this:

After reattaching the errant purple tuning peg, I began hand sewing those down. That was no fun. Well, it was, but the other larger pieces are not taking well to being scrunched while I hand sew. So, I actually began machine appliquéing them down. All the blue parts are done, and now I’ve started on the yellows. They’re done with the exception of one seam.

The very fine thread I bought for the appliquéing of Groovy Guitar didn’t work out. It was just too fine. Originally this was meant to be a wall hanging, but Bruce wanted a useable quilt. So I expanded the edges and filled out the guitar shapes, adding headstock motifs, etc. to make them all float on a larger black background. The fusible, per the instructions, was not lightweight, but a lighter medium weight. It has changed the hand of the pieces and I hope it will soften after washing. But at this stage, using a fine thread was not cutting it. So, I’m back to my 50-weight Aurifil and it is behaving admirably.  

Today I’ll finish up the yellow and do the orange and perhaps move on to the green and purple. I’d like to be able to sit down and enjoy some slow stitching of all the tiny dots once everything else is secure. Then I’ll probably add a red border. My goal is to get this ready to be basted by the end of July. 

This garden photo was taken last Monday, and the garden has grown even since then. The various squash plans (left side, middle area) all have blossoms now, as do the tomatoes and the tomatillo. We’ve finished up the radishes (“we” meaning Bruce, because I hate them) and are feasting regularly on spinach. And I’ve been making lots of rhubarb-strawberry compote for the freezer to enjoy during the off-season.  

And the white climbing rose in the middle on the back wall is now blooming mightily. It’s lovely to sit out on the patio and see it all!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

A Quilt Finish!

More exciting to me than finishing this quilt (although that is exciting) is learning how to use my new phone (a Samsung Galaxy S8 with an Android platform). I’m really an Apple girl, so this is my first venture outside that realm. But my last iPhone,  a 5-something, was a piece of garbage that always seemed to crash when I needed it most. Good riddance!  So now that I’ve finally been able to transfer some pictures from the phone to my computer, I can do a catch-up post. No thanks to Dropbox, which is not communicating with itself from my phone to my computer, even though they’ve been synched. I hate this tech-y stuff with a passion.

So, the AB Baby quilt is done. This was my One Monthly Goal (OMG) for June and also #2 on my Second Quarter Goals for the 2018 Finish Along.  I’ll be linking up to both those online challenges as the link-ups become available.

The quilt will be for our soon-to-be-born granddaughter Evie. The letters were cut from a panel from the fabric line Nature Walk by Tamara Kate, and the pattern was published to go along with the letters. I used fabrics mostly from about 4-5 of her various lines (I love her stuff!). There are some other fabrics in there too, but the lion’s share is Tamara Kate fabric. And so is the backing. This print comes from her newest line, Joy, and I thought with its gentle print of butterflies and flowers, etc, it was the perfect complement to the top.

The quilt finished at about 52x62”. I used a plain ol’ stipple to quilt it, and then bound it with the gray stripes print that had originally be auditioned (and rejected) for the sashing strips.

And since I had another recent photo on my phone, I’d thought I’d share with you a picture of Mr. Cat himself - Alfalfa. I can’t imagine anyone would mind a picture of such a handsome chap!

Bruce is off work for this week, so we have been puttering around the house. Yesterday was garden work (in the morning) and errands (in the afternoon). Today was cleaning (Bruce - his bathroom and man cave/laboratory) and for me it was Weight Watchers, sewing, and the phone-techy stuff. Tomorrow we’ll probably go visit Red Butte Garden again in Salt Lake to see the roses at their peak and to get some sunshine, then go out to lunch. The weather here has been mild (mid-seventies) this week, so we’re going to enjoy it to the max!

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Teal Time

Hi! I can’t believe another week has rolled around this fast. Summer is in full swing here, with temps in the nineties and the flowers and veggies all snug and happy in their warm beds. We’ve already been eating rhubarb (a spring harvest) and radishes and spinach. The apricot tree keeps dropping occasional green apricots to the ground, so it gives me hope that there are some where I can’t see them and they will eventually ripen. Then I may need to fight the birds to get any, but I guess we’ll see how that goes. Just my luck they’ll ripen when I’m in Kenya in a month....

But for now, let’s talk about the color teal (aqua, blue-green, turquoise, etc). I got lots of sewing done this week on my Rainbow Scrap color for June. I’m joining up with Angela’s Scrappy Saturday and look forward to seeing what other quilters around the world are making with their teal scraps!

First we have three Linked Squares blocks (16.5” each, unfinished)

And next up are the selvage squares. I made 17 in the 6.5” size and then with the remaining scraps made 6 in the 4.5” size.

And this month’s Squared Away Sampler, courtesy of Mari (Academic Quilter), is this lovely little number. They actually remind me of the Irish Chain blocks I’ll be doing for my Lattice Birds Quilt. Anyway, I made two of these that will finish at 10” each.

I did some other sewing this week, but nothing exciting. I added some lace to the hem of a blouse I recently purchased in order to make it longer. Then on a pair of cargo shorts I have, the pocket tops kept flipping up. Since I don’t need the pockets on the legs to be useful, I stitched them closed. And finally, I did some mending for my DDIL. All of the clothes stuff was in preparation for our Kenya trip next month. Later in the week I’m going to do a separate post about the humanitarian group we’re going with, some of the things we’re collecting to take along, and all the other preparation going on. It’s been crazy!

But I’ll leave you with a picture from the Shop Hop that cousin Kim and niece Jenny and I joined in on last week. The theme was Party Time, and each shop had a different party theme, like Girls Night Out, Slumber Party, Halloween Party, Luau, High School Reunion, Hootenanny, etc. These pictures were taken at the Slumber Party at Pine Needles quilt shop in West Jordan - one of our favorites. We thought this was a cute idea for photos....

Jenny and Kim

Kim and Cathy
That’s it for now. I do check in daily on my Blogger dashboard and read your comments. They are always appreciated. I know we’re all still waiting for Blogger to get their act together and solve the commenting email issue. You’d think that something as big as the implementation of the GDPR would have been planned for. But obviously they didn’t. Anyway, I will make time this week to go hunting through my old files to dig up email addresses and cut/paste/reply manually where I can.
Thursday, June 7, 2018

Summer Reading - Books and Book Blocks

You know I love quilts. But I love books too. And if you combine them, that’s nirvana. You may remember the Reading Rainbow Quilt that I finished last year.

Through a year of scraps with the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, this was a labor of love.

And now, with the Block Lotto, our monthly hostess for June is Nann, and she has given us a fun new block to try called Summer Reading.  You can see her post on the Block Lotto HERE. Her post contains a link to the actual pattern for the block.

Here are the six blocks I made for this month:

As I did in the Reading Rainbow quilt, I added “titles” to three of the books. They are gleaned from my stash of selvages and stitched on the “spine” of the book with a small stitch length for security.

And just to let you know that I love REAL books too, here is my current read. A recent article in the Washington Post had a great list of summer reading titles from various people. When I saw that this book appeared more than once, and read the reviews of this, it became a Must Read for me. I’m about two thirds through, and am savoring every bit. Two thumbs way up!

I’ve got another half dozen on hold. I’m hoping that at least a couple come up over the next month so that I can load them onto my iPad and have some reading to take with me for my Africa trip in July. That’s when I love digital books - traveling without adding the extra weight of physical books. Because except for my personal carry-on, all my luggage weight allowance will be devoted to humanitarian items (toys, fabric and personal care items) for our Kenyan non-profit project. 
Saturday, June 2, 2018

Goodbye Pink, Hello Aqua!

With the beginning of a new month comes another color to work with for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. But before we get into June’s color of aqua (or teal, or too-green-for-blue or too-blue-for-green), let me do my Pink May recap.  I finished sewing more birds for Birds in the Lattice. Here are the seven pink (or pink with another color) birds:

And then since I had birds in almost every color there will be in the quilt (except a yellow-orange pair), I sewed two of the Irish Chain “lattice” blocks to see how they would play with the birds.

I think I love it!!  The final quilt will have a total of 63 blocks, measuring 10” each when finished. They will be set 7 across by nine down (70x90”) before adding a stop border and then a large border of the main fabric, the blue floral print you see in the blue birds, the central square of the lattice blocks and on the wing of one pink bird. Queen-sized quilt.

For May my pink blocks were:
8 (4” finished) bow ties,
54 (4” finished) hearts, 1
2 (6” finished) quarter log cabins,
7 (10” finished) birds,
3 (16” finished) Linked Squares blocks,
4 (6” finished) blocks for the All You Need is Love quilt,
15 (6” finished) selvage squares,
3 (10” finished) Squared Away blocks, and
13 (6” finished) crumb blocks.
That’s a total of (wow, even I’m surprised...) 119 blocks. But that is all the sewing I did (other than to finish sashing the quilt top, above, at the last minute). So, there is progress, but nothing finished to show for it!!

And in the couple days since Angela has announced June’s color, I’ve managed to sew a whopping four bow tie blocks. But if you join us for Scrappy Saturday, you’ll see lots of other fun projects!

Today I’ll be spending the day with Cousin Kim and niece Jenny as we head on out to do another day of the Utah Shop Hop. It started Wednesday, and Kim and I had fun hitting the stores up around Park City and Midway. Then we drove the Alpine Loop down to Utah Valley (Provo/Orem area), passing Sundance, where the annual Sundance Film Festival is held. It was breathtakingly beautiful, reminding me of the Austrian Alps. I was driving, so I couldn’t get any pictures. However, we waved to Robert Redford as we passed by his place (wink!)

Anyway, today our quilt travels will take us north to (maybe) Logan, but definitely Brigham City, Bountiful, and finally a couple shops here in the Salt Lake Valley. We have been buying some fabric. Kim bought some old-fashioned purple fabrics to make a Hunter’s Star quilt for her son and I bought some Pepper and Flax fabrics (grays, yellow and greens) to make a quilt for our yellow guest bedroom. We are, however, suffering from sticker shock to see fat quarters priced at $3.50. Needless to say, we are mostly sticking to the sale tables.

And here are some pictures from our garden this week. Most were taken on a cloudy day, and the first three are along the back wall of the backyard garden.

The rose bush below (no filter or editing on the pic) has gorgeous magenta roses. This was the first one to open, but the bush is getting up to full bloom and should peak in the coming  week.

This is my favorite rose bush, in the front yard. The blooms are a lovely yellow-orange to salmon color. But some winter damage a couple years ago in the center has made the bush a bit lopsided. I’ve tried to prune it to compensate, but it looks best from this angle. This fall I’ve got more woody canes to get rid of and some more shaping to do.

And then I decided to cut some of the irises and roses to enjoy indoors in a bouquet. Before retiring from the workforce, I’d always bring flowers to have in my office and for the reception area.

Finally, a couple pictures from our Red Butte Gardens visit last week. The pictures didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped, nor did I get many before my card filled up. But here are a few...

From the Xeriscape garden area, looking up into the canyon.

And then looking down and out west along the north half of the Salt Lake Valley.

The next shot is near the area where they hold weddings and is one of the few decent pictures I got.

By the next time we go, I’ll have a better phone/camera. And if Bruce takes the pictures, we’ll have a better photographer too!

Have a great week, friends. I miss talking to you and replying to your comments. But I hear that Blogger is hoping to have a fix to the problem this coming week. Fingers crossed!
Thursday, May 31, 2018

May OMG becomes June OMG.

Another month, another down-to-the-wire goal deadline. This time, I goofed. I thought my May OMG (One Monthly Goal) was to finish the top of this baby quilt, and that I did. Shall we take a look?

I finished all the sashing and cornerstones. It looks a bit wonky at the bottom because the first four rows are pinned to the design board and the last row is just hanging freely.

Anyway, as I began this post, I checked my original goal-setting post in early May and was dismayed to find out that my goal was to finish the entire quilt - quilting, binding and all.  Oops. So, I didn’t make it. In my defense, I’ve been sick much of the last week with a stomach ailment which we have finally traced to one of my meds - and to my age (stomach lining thins as we age). So, I’m taking a break from the medication for awhile (it’s my Meloxicam for arthritis symptoms). Simultaneously I’m beginning to take Pantoprazole, a prescription-strength antacid to give my tummy a break. I’ll be able to start back on the Meloxicam in a week or two, but will have to continue with both down the road. My life seems to be in pill bottles these days.

But on to sweeter things. Our daughter Stacy’s labor will be induced on June 29 (if she doesn’t go into labor naturally first) so this quilt for baby girl Evie now becomes my JUNE One Monthly Goal. Given how much time I’ve been spending in the garden and in preparation for my Kenya trip, this seems do-able but not overwhelming.

I am linking up to Elm Street Quilt’s June OMG goal-setting link party. Why not join us and see what others have planned for June?

Saturday, May 26, 2018

54 Hearts

The last week was a most enjoyable one, with beautiful warm spring weather here in the Salt Lake Valley. I was able to get some sewing in last Sunday when Cousin Kim came over for our regular sewing day. And other than an additional hour of sewing on Monday, that was it for my time in the studio. Instead, Bruce and I spent a lot of time finishing up most of our spring garden chores. We also visited Red Butte Gardens, an arboretum here in Salt Lake City of which we are members. I’ll do a separate post on that. And I did a lot of prep for my upcoming trip to Africa.

But let’s take a look at what emerged from under the sewing needle first. Fifty-four 4” (finished size) hearts.

These will go into the All You Need is Love quilt for my daughter. What better time to get them sewn up than in the Month of Pink for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge....

Mostly I don’t trim these up until I’m ready to sew them in to the top. They’ll be sitting around for at least a couple more months before that happens, so might as well trim only once.

Since we have almost a full week of pink left before month-end, I am going to wait to do my Pink Roundup until next week. In the interim, my plan is to finish the remaining three pink birds for my Birds in the Lattice quilt. And I would love to finish sewing the quilt top of the AB Baby quilt (my One Monthly Goal, OMG). But I’m not holding my breath on that one.

In preparation for my July trip to Kenya, I did lots of clothes shopping. Mostly I needed new summer things anyway, because of the 35+ pounds I’ve lost since last summer. But in addition to some shorts and tops, I bought a bucket (safari) hat. We had our second online meeting/orientation of the travel group. The non-profit status of our group has been approved! Also, I had to submit passport information to begin processing of the Kenyan visa. Now I have to go look for a large suitcase because it will be filled with my donated flannel and some wooden toys (handmade by local gentlemen) for Kenyan kids. On the way home, it can hold souvenirs. My personal stuff will all be in my carry-on.  I also found a beautiful leather journal and purchased it to have a place to write my thoughts and memories. Bruce is charged with finding me a new phone with a good camera. My old iPhone has been behaving badly for months. I’ll probably get a refurbished Samsung Galaxy S8.

I took some pictures of the garden and yard this week. I like taking them at different times of the season, and these will qualify as the early season photographs. Come stroll with me. You should be able to click on the pictures to enlarge them.

This shot shows that most of our backyard is taken up by 8 large raised planting beds. There are two smaller ones behind the middle row (visible in another picture). From the right row back you can see the rhubarb plant. Sharing the bed with rhubarb is spinach. Behind them in the next box is lettuce, radishes and peas. And in the far back bed behind them are pumpkins.

In the middle row we have tomatoes and carrots in the front bed. In the middle bed are onions, a tomatillo and several varieties of pepper.

Below is a closer look at the onion bed. The tomatillo has a cage, and the peppers fill out that row. There are red, yellow and green bell, a banana pepper and an Anaheim. No jalapeños this year.

The farthest back large planter of the middle row is all potatoes. Behind that, in the picture below, you can see two smaller planters. In previous years they were tiers for strawberry plants, but that idea was a bust. So this year we separated them and planted them with more pumpkins and some garlic.

In the last two planters we have spaghetti squash (left planter below), and onions and yellow crookneck squash (right planter below).

This is a view of the tomato and carrot bed looking back toward the house and postage stamp grass. You can see that the grape vines are beginning to climb the lattice along the patio. YAY! These pictures were taken about 10 am, when the sun was still in the east. Anyway, I don’t expect the grape vines to bear fruit this year - the growth reminds me of first or second-year growth coming off those mature, woody plants. But I could be wrong. Regardless, they will provide shade in the afternoons.

And let’s take a look at Mr. Rhubarb. Keep in mind that he was barely visible above ground six weeks ago! I have been harvesting off of this plant every 4-5 days now for a couple weeks or more.

This bad boy has been keeping Cousin Kim and I busy making pies (Kim) and compote/sauce (me) and jam (me) for two weeks. The 7 jars in the right of the picture below are strawberry-rhubarb jam. My compotes are already in the freezer in their containers. And there will be plenty more of those in the coming week. And maybe I’ll even make a strawberry-rhubarb pie for Memorial Day weekend.

The jams in the left of the picture (10 jars) are plain strawberry. I’ll probably make another batch or two of those, depending on how many my kids want.

Shall we continue the early season garden tour?

This is the first rose (Daybreak, I believe) on the rosebush that lives where the front walkway meets the driveway.  In another week it should be going gangbusters, and I’ll get a picture of the entire bush ablaze with blooms.

And here is the front walkway with the planted Talavera pots. There are two plain brown pots of petunias snuck in there for the moment. The shepherds hook we usually hang them on was moved to make room for the newly-planted rose tree (left of picture). We were going to relocate the shepherd’s hook to the right, but it needs rebar support to hold the weight of two pots. We have the necessary post, but the pots would hang over a newly-planted rose bush in that area, and I’m not willing to let them do that. So I’ve got to come up with a Plan B.

May is the month of irises here in our yard, and we are overrun with them. Last year, with Bruce’s cancer scare and minimal gardening on our part, they did not get divided - and they were overdue then. This July and August, it’s my top priority.  This  champagne iris below is a favorite of mine. We bought some unusual hybrids several years ago at an iris show, and this one has been prolific.

These irises, another overgrown patch, are along the west side of the house. They, too, need to be thinned.  But aren’t the colors gorgeous???

And more along the west side. That’s the fence to the backyard, and these irises live under the canopy of the apricot tree on the other side of the fence.

Backing up from the above shot, you can see that whole west/south corner of the side yard. That window is actually my sewing studio. Anyway, if I remove that urn, I’ll have room to spread the irises. I’m all about low maintenance as I get older.  And I’m thinking of building a fairy garden in the urn and moving it to the back yard under the apricot tree. More thinking to do on that, too.

By next week, we’ll have and explosion of roses and more irises blooming. Things have already changed in the two days since these pictures were taken.  I’m already enjoying the fragrance of cut flowers in the house.