Saturday, November 26, 2016

Rainbow Scrap Cats Again

This week I finished the pink litter of kittens with their Mama Cat. It was the final litter for the final kitten quilt. I am making three kitten quilts, and each has six litters.

A litter consists of 1 mama cat and 12 kittens. That means there were 18 litters total in the three quilts; 18 mama cat (12” blocks) and 216 kitten blocks (6”).  All were pieced this year as part of my personal use of scraps for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.

This is the only kitten quilt with yellow, and I think it adds a real bright, happy punch to the mix. I am thrilled to have the flimsy done. There are a couple yards left of the blue cat fabric that I backed the other 2 quilts with. This quilt will use that and some pink polka-dot fabric for the back.  It will be basted and quilted in a couple weeks.

And then yesterday I started piecing the final Christmas quilt. This will be for my son Ryan. All the rest of my Christmas quilts are either done or to the flimsy stage; some are basted and ready to quilt, some are not. But this one was just a couple jelly rolls until yesterday afternoon.  Anyway, these are the light and medium light strips in the set. The rest of the mediums and the darks are yet to come, and I plan for them to be more to the outside of the quilt. We’ll see how that goes. I’m calling it November Rain, because the colors remind me of November, and Ryan used to love (and still does) the music of Axl Rose (Guns ’n Roses) and their song November Rain. So there you have it.

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I have pieced 16 blocks of the 48 needed.  I put 4 black 1.5” strips and 5 colored 2.5” strips side by side and sewed them into a lengthwise strip set. From that I am able to cut out 3 14.25” squares. Two of those squares are placed right sides together, one with stripes running up and down, the other with stripes running across. Then they are sewn together on all 4 sides with a 1/4” seam. Finally, they are cut diagonally (X) and it yields four individual blocks. I am using the 1.5” black stripes at the ends (and a couple in the middle), and that really sets off the contrasting colors and directions. I am going to have a lot of fun playing with these blocks to come up with a final placement. Expect a post on that later in the week.

And if you missed my last post (because it was mid-week and not a Saturday), I finished my orange peel quilt for my DDIL. You can see it here.

I’m linking up to Scrappy Saturday over at Angela’s So Scrappy blog. If you mosey on over there, you will see lots of colorful eye candy as we all sew our little fingers to the bone trying to finish in time for Christmas.

Cathy maroon

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thankful for ..... A Finish!

Business first. I finished quilting and binding the quilt for my DDIL Kim for Christmas. She selected the orange peels and Hello Darling by Bonnie & Camille.  The quilt finished at 64x75”.

I couldn’t show it on Instagram because she follows my feed there. But here is a picture we snapped between stiff breezes a couple days ago. This was goal #9 on my Quarter 4 Finish Along Goals, which you can see here. This is my fifth finish for this quarter with several more to go. Yikes!!

Back in the early days of my blog (I have been blogging nearly 10 years - that anniversary will come next summer), I used to post vintage graphics for various holidays. As most of them are from old Victorian postcards, and as Thanksgiving was not a national holiday a hundred-plus years ago as it is now, Thanksgiving graphics are hard to come by.  But I did find a few seasonally appropriate ones, so I will include them here. Feel free to right click and save them on your computer; they are copyright-free. So, while I blather on talk about a few things, the pictures will be interspersed.

I don’t usually get sappy at this time of year, but a few readers have remarked (and one even wrote personally) to say how upbeat I seem in my posts, especially given not only the end-of-year Holiday preparations and tons of sewing projects to finish, but our ongoing construction. And let’s not kid ourselves, as adults (and regardless of which candidate you were rooting for), this election cycle has taken a lot out of us these last few weeks. There was no hiding from it.

I am a Glass Half Full person. So, yes, I am upbeat, despite the disappointing-to-me election results (and the sheer number of persons who voted for his intolerance), despite the colder and darker weather that is upon us as autumn turns into fall, and despite the continual delays and messes that the living room (and eventually the hall and back bedroom) remodel throw at us. Why? Because there is so much to be thankful for!

During the election, I was bothered by the phrase “Make America Great Again”. To me, that was a Glass-Half-Empty viewpoint. Excuse me, folks, but America is ALREADY great.  We are free to live and worship (or not) as we like, to own homes, raise families, obtain medical care, get in our cars and drive when and where we want for leisure and entertainment.

We have myriad opportunities to work and a system that allows us to retire and continue to live well when we are old and tired. We can mail a letter across the country for less than 50 cents for crying out loud! We can talk or Skype on the phone to friends and family around the world. We have freedom of speech. Our water is clean (unless we live in Flint - shame on those crooked politicians!), our air is relatively clean (and they are working on it), and we have ready access to more food than we could possibly need.  And we are in the minority of humans on this planet who can say all those things. 

Anyway, those are major things that I often take for granted, but am truly thankful for. There are also bazillions of tiny things that we take for granted, and for those I am thankful as well. That my family comes to visit and play regularly. That my house is warm and my cats love us and keep us company when we are home. That we can go out to dinner if I don’t feel like cooking. That my order from the fabric store arrived today so I can begin my next quilt. And even that a lace client placed a large order today (and that commission will finish off my Christmas shopping). 

I am also grateful for a loving husband with a great sense of humor. We have been together for 14.5 years (married 13.5), and we are still laughing together and planning together and having fun. Plus, he feels it’s his manly duty to clean the turkey and prepare it for the roasting bag. How lucky am I?

Yes, dear, the turkey is cooking!

I just got word today that our cabinets won’t be ready until NEXT Wednesday (Nov. 30). That will be almost 4 weeks to construct it all when it was supposed to be 2 weeks. Oh well, what can I do? In the meantime, the flooring project will move down the hall and hubby can begin hooking up all the wired-in electronics. I can still schedule the delivery of the furniture on time, because it wasn’t going to be ready until Dec. 7-8 anyway.  And the silver lining is that Alfie and Darla will have more time to run around on the floors (sans furniture) like idiots.

Our Thanksgiving will be just Bruce and me, along with my adult son Shane. Shane is a single dad, and his daughter London will be with her mom for Thanksgiving this year. We’ll have turkey, veggies (some from the garden), stuffing, mashed potatoes (also from the garden), pumpkin pie, and beer/wine/coffee. After eating, the guys will putter around with electronics and projects in Bruce’s laBORatory, then they’ll probably whip out their guitars. I will sew, or peruse Pinterest. We’ll talk and relax. So much to be thankful for!!

What are you doing? Whatever it is, may it be joyous, delicious and warm!!

Cathy maroon

Saturday, November 19, 2016

A Quilt Finished, A Living Room Unfinished

What is a living room called when you don’t live in it? It’s just another room, or in our case, a Room Under Construction.  I knew it wouldn’t be done by Thanksgiving, but I still have my fingers crossed for Christmas.

What I forgot about, however, is that instead of hosting Thanksgiving for our family (kids are married and go to in-laws, etc), we have Fiesta. Fiesta is on the Saturday or Sunday after Thanksgiving, and everyone comes for Mexican Food (so, by the end of the month, we are sick of turkey leftovers AND Mexican food leftovers, LOL). But there will be no Fiesta this year. Because....

Yes, Alfie is inspecting (lower right)
This picture was taken a week ago. It took our contractor the better part of a working day to level out the sub-floor (long story having to do with the height of the cement base of the former hearth). But after this picture, he was able to get about 25% of the hardwood flooring down. The cats love to thunder around on this floor (subfloor and the new hardwood); their toys roll really well. This weekend we hope the living room flooring will be done and then we are expecting the custom cabinets and mantel to arrive, all of which will flank and surround the fireplace. That means Thanksgiving weekend will see a lot of activity of the construction variety, if not the family celebration variety.

In between painting the hallway walls, trim and doors (ongoing), I did manage to sew another litter of cats this week; the penultimate litter. Green. Now there is just one pink litter left to sew before Kitty Quilt #3 can be assembled. Why not join us over at Angela’s So Scrappy blog for Scrappy Saturday? The participants of this year’s Rainbow Scrap Challenge are all putting together their rainbow quilts!

If we ever have a Rainbow Scrap Challenge Slumber Party, Sally and I will be the ones sewing these kitties in our sleep!

This week I also finished a quilt. The quilting on Magic Carpet took For.Ev.Er. (It finished at 75x84”). After looking at several pictures of other finished quilts online, I realized that the color choices and piecing pattern would dictate what stood out and what receded, so I just  ended up choosing some basic quilting styles for each color.

I am not crazy about the lines on the bright pink, but they are staying. Other than that, I am quite pleased with how it turned out.  Below is a detail shot of some of the quilting I did. Keep in mind that I am a quilting hack. But practice makes better, and I’ve been getting a lot of practice lately. This quilt is also a finish for my Finish Along 2016 Quarter 4 goals. My list is here, and this is #5 on my list.

Now I am working on the quilt for my DIL Kim. I got half of it quilted yesterday and plan to finish the quilting (and maybe the binding) today.  This is also a Christmas present. I’ll do a separate finish post for this one later this week.

On Wednesday, my cousin Kim came over and we basted two quilts; the above orange peel and my RSC Sampler. I will start quilting the sampler this week and hope to finish it. If I can do that, I will begin on the final litter of pink kitties and baste my Cozy Christmas quilt this week.  Luckily, my new 25-yard roll of batting arrived last week, so I am good to go for the season.  :-)

I am on track to finish everything in time for Christmas gift-giving. Christmas presents for family will be quilts and gift cards, so that is covered. Presents for friends and neighbors are jars of apricot jam, prepped last summer. Nothing to decorate for Christmas (except put up a tree? that would be nice....)  So, all I need to do is keep the house relatively tidy and SEW. Not a bad prospect....

Cathy maroon

Saturday, November 12, 2016

What a Week!

Thank goodness it’s over!  The week, that is. You may remember from my last post that I had a “procedure” scheduled for Monday. Oh heck, we’re all adults here...... it was a colonoscopy. After my weekend of fasting, the procedure finally took place on Monday at 2-ish. Missing the food was not the worst of it. Neither was the frequent trips to the bathroom. The worst was drinking the POISON - a solution that can be best described as warm seawater. But the results were perfect, and I don’t have to do THAT again for ten years!

And if that wasn’t enough crap (literally and figuratively), the election was on Tuesday. The results, to most of us, are devastating. Talk about CRAP. And by “most”, I mean the majority of voters (because H won the popular vote), educated women, minorities of any variety, and the rest of the peace-loving world. My daughter (age 30) called me, crying. My neighborhood friend’s daughter (age 24) called her, crying. Bruce’s co-workers (many are gay or minorities) were in a deep funk on Wednesday. We are still trying to come to terms with what this means for us going forward.
End of political discussion. I just deleted a paragraph of rant here. You’re welcome.  

So, back to why we're REALLY here - faaaaabric and those wonderful things we do with it!

I didn’t get much sewn this week, but I did finish the litter of purple kitties from last week. That is 4 litters down, two to go on the third and final Kitty Quilt.  As this is a Rainbow Scrap Challenge project, I am linking up to Angela’s Scrappy Saturday party. Swing by and see all our rainbow projects coming together!

I also got the green and black borders sewn onto this pre-printed panel from Pattern Jam that I bought a year ago. Our son-in-law Mike is a hunter and this has his name written all over it.  The backing is pieced and it's ready to be quilted (behind several others in line!) And yes, I realize I need to pay more attention to how I pin quilts up on my design board. Sorry for the waves, LOL.

I finally began quilting the Magic Carpet quilt last night. After a false start that required some frog stitching (rippit, rippit), I decided on some basic stippling for the blue sections. The quilting on all the colored squares will be simple and medium to large scale. I don’t want to interfere with their color punch. The black bits will probably be X’ed or ???

I am not enjoying the quilting of this one, mainly because of all the stops and starts, changing thread colors, etc. I just want to put the pedal to the metal and stitch because I have so many quilts to do. But I am being patient, though it’s hard.

As far as my Christmas quilts go, there is only one left to start, and that is for my son Ryan. I have a jelly roll of Black Tie Affair by Basic Grey, plus lots of light and dark neutrals and some matching yardage for a border. Originally, I was going to do a Ribbon Star (MSQC) pattern, but decided it was too much background, and the stars were too cutesy for my athletic son. So now, the four patterns I’m considering are below, and they’re all in fabric colors or lines that are similar to what I’m working with. Which one do you like? I’m leaning to the strings one in the upper left (a la Three Dudes quilting).

One of the projects I’ve set for myself for 2017 is to make and contribute small kennel quilts to charities. These quilts are for cats and/or small dogs and measure approximately 12x18”. To find a local charity, I contacted our local Best Friends Shelter, a no-kill shelter and organization from whom we adopted Alfalfa and Darla two years ago. They were enthusiastic about the kennel quilts, and indeed accept quilts of all sizes for not only the kennels, but for fostering families and other uses. My cousin Kim and her granddaughter Trinity and I will begin sewing these in January. Our goal is to complete and donate at least a half dozen per month. Here are some kitty fabrics I ordered just for the fun of it, but any fabric will do, of course.

Along with the fabric I got a great new book, Modern Selvage Quilting by Riel Nason. I ordered it because I was having difficulty finding a pattern to use my selvages for. After getting the book (and seeing what she has coming in 2017 - a book of Halloween selvage patterns!), I am now having trouble narrowing it down, LOL.  But I think this quilt, pictured below, will be a great one to use for my selvage RSC project in 2017.  I will do it as a column quilt, working on one color - two columns - per month. The selvages themselves can be multi-colored (which will allow me to continually collect them), while the alternating solid pieces can be sewn in the color of the month. And those solid-color pieces can be one piece or scrappy/crumby. A solution that really works for me!

Finally, in remodeling news, the living room is fully painted, with new outlet and vent covers installed. The hallway is getting its second coat of Agreeable Gray today by yours truly.  Then, since Sunday is Sewing Day, on Monday I will start painting all the hall doors and door trim white. The baseboards will be replaced along with the baseboards in the living room. But unlike the living room, the hallway will not have crown molding.

All our living room furniture is moved out; we have temporarily relocated  the TV and Bruce’s recliner to the library/music room (our back bedroom). I have the futon to curl up on. It’s cozy, but the cats think we are crazy. So what else is new. The living room carpet comes up today, and the old ceiling lights are coming out and new can lights are being installed.  Our cabinetry may be done as early as next week, but if it’s the week after, that’s OK. In the meantime, the hall painting needs to be finished (me) and floor laid (contractor). Once the flooring in the living room is done, we will move the recliner (etc) back while the flooring moves down the hall and into that back bedroom. Such fun; musical furniture. And we are still on track for the new furniture delivery on or around December 7-8. And padded white cells shortly thereafter.

Cathy maroon

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Slow Progress

Happy Saturday!  Our neighborhood is having a clean-up drive today and they're supplying three roll-off dumpsters for green waste, hazardous materials (paints, etc. that the local scouts are coming around to collect) and regular household and limited construction waste.  We have taken advantage of that by getting rid of some old paints and the detritus from our clean-up of the patio and storage sheds earlier in the week. We still make weekly runs to the  thrift store to unload usables. Although we are purging instead of collecting, it still feels as though it fits in well with this nesting time of year! Getting things in order.

But let’s talk about quilting. Last weekend I quilted my cousin Kim’s red, white and black quilt. But I will wait to show pictures until she adds the binding and we wash it. A couple weeks. She has this idea to piece the binding in patchwork squares, and I couldn’t dissuade her. I’m glad she will be doing the binding, not me. Stay tuned.

On my personal sewing front, I have started the purple litter of kittens (and their mama) for Kitten Quilt #3andfinal. When purple is done, there will only be green and pink left.

Those will get finished up today.  And so, I am linking up to Angela’s Scrappy Saturday for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.

What else did I sew on this week? Not as much as I would have liked, but I did finish up the orange peel blocks (42, machine appliqu├ęd) for my DIL Kim’s Christmas quilt. She picked the fabric (Bonnie & Camille’s Hello Darling) and the pattern. The top is now pieced.

She loves red, so I originally thought I might use red for the border. But it was overwhelming. So luckily I found some of this matching Bliss pink dot fabric in my stash. I had just enough to do a 5” border. The backing got sewn up as well, using some fabrics from that Hello Darling, the leftover pink from my Dresdens backgrounds, and a cute white with pink starflower design fabric. I even sewed in a label. It’s now in the To Be Basted and Quilted pile, which is back up to 5 quilts. But I quilted a quilt and sewed a quilt top and back this week, so I am sticking to my goal of one per week until Christmas.

Living room remodel progress:  We got the plans back from the carpenter’s shop. After the sticker shock (almost double what we anticipated), I had to put pen to paper and do some fancy financial figuring (and obviously I can alliterate too). Long story short, it will work. The plans were great, and we signed off. They had a scheduled job that was delayed, so were able to squeeze us in immediately. Time frame: two weeks until delivery. That means that Jeff, our contractor/relative is busy doing some additional brickwork for the floor hearth and grouting this weekend. But first he had to pour some cement to level that floor area. The living room is painted except for where I have to wait for the boxes of flooring (stacked along the wall under the front window) to be moved. A job of ten minutes to paint. We will begin ripping carpet out this week, I think. Jeff wants to start the flooring and have much of it done (except the part that abuts the cabinetry) by the time it gets here.

We also bought all our new living room furniture this week. But as one couch (leather, from Italy) won’t arrive until Dec. 7, we have about a month to worry about that. We got the aforementioned leather couch, a fabric couch, a modern wingback chair for me (pictured above, in showroom), an ottoman (leather, from the Italian set) for me to use with my chair, a side table, and a large room rug.  In the meantime, our former Ikea shelves were brought down to my sewing room to give me additional fabric storage.
More space for fabric!

Left cabinet: WIP’s, then drawers of scraps 

The white cabinet in the right photo is missing a shelf near the top. I’m still looking. I know it seems that I don’t have much fabric compared to many of you, but I did a major purge about 3 years ago and have (for the most part) only recent fabrics. I do have a large basket of strings and strips (not pictured) that cousin Kim and I are saving to crochet some rag rugs. Many of my old cuts are in there, awaiting slashing.

And then moving around the room, this area still needs work. That old desk was mine when I was growing up. Heck, it was MY MOM’s when she was growing up. It is solid maple and heavy beyond belief. Next to it is my old 1916 Singer Treadle, which needs a belt. Those bins under the desk are RSC WIPs, but will get moved to the shelves by the door once a space opens up. In other words, once I sew up a couple more RSC and Christmas quilt tops. Before the new year.

In the center of the room, not pictured, is a long folding table and a card table. I hope to replace both of those with two matching heavy 4-legged Ikea tables. DH has been put on alert that I will need him to hack one of the tables to make it possible to drop my Bernina down so it is flush with the tabletop. He has the tools, he has the skills. Luckily, he also has the impetus to keep me happy, so that is on the Honey-Do for after the Holidays.

Hopefully I haven’t lulled you to sleep with all my blathering.  I am doing my best to stay downstairs to sew and do laundry. The real reason is that I want to stay away from the kitchen; today begins my fasting for a Monday colonoscopy. Two days; the new Thorough Cleanout procedure, I guess. Enough said. I still get liquids (coffee and soda OK!), popsicles, jello and broth. As long as it isn’t red or purple.  But I will have purple scraps today, LOL!!  Kitty sewing, here I come....

Cathy maroon