Friday, July 28, 2017

When the Going Gets Tough

This is a week that I am happy to say (in the parlance of someone who has spent too much time on the road the last couple days) is in the rear view mirror. I am not sure that after traveling through Lake Havasu, AZ and Las Effing* Vegas, I will ever be cool - as in temperature - again. Of course, I`m otherwise cool; just ask my grandkids.
*Effing: in this case means F-ing or FRUSTRATING. Get your mind out of the gutter. 

It was a safe trip. It was a purposeful and successful trip. It was an effing (see above) HOT trip. More about that toward the end of this post.

But first, let’s talk about one of my favorite (and yours too, I bet) subjects; quilting and sewing and the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. I`m linking up to Angela`s Scrappy Saturday gathering, where lots of us “cool” people are showing off our blue scrap fabric projects.

In July, I got a lot of blue blocks sewn for my Rainbow Scrap projects. In the collage below:

Top: (3) Bookshelf quilt blocks, (16) 6.5” Plus blocks and (16) 4.5” Bowties
Bottom: (2) Geese Migration Blocks, (42) 6.5” Friendship Star blocks and (8) 8.5” strings blocks. I actually had two string blocks from last year, but I did sew 2 more after this picture was taken, so I have ten total, 8 of which were sewn this month.

And then there was a selvage and fabric column, folded back upon itself to fit into a reasonable picture.

And 2 slabs of scraps that will eventually go into the making of kennel quilts.

That, brings my July Blue Blocks total to exactly 90. Whew. And then, I was able to finish my 24 pineapple blocks for the pineapple quilt. Currently they're on the design board in no particular setting. They're just having a Kumbaya moment together before being sashed and sewn together permanently. I hope to work on that in the coming week.

And, naturally, I am waiting anxiously for Angela to announce the color of the month for August. As I recall from the discussions at the beginning of the year, we still have pink, light neutrals (whites, creams, low volumes), orange, and dark neutrals (black, brown, gray) left. I`m down with any of them, but am secretly pulling for one in particular. LOL.

On Wednesday I flew to Lake Havasu, AZ where my brother Steve lives/lived. We went out to lunch, then he took care of his final business there in town while I read and napped. I do that so well. It is absolutely sweltering this time of the year in Arizona and Nevada. In the evening, he said goodbye to all his friends and we prepped for an early morning departure. Steve drove the U-Haul with a trailer attached. On the trailer was his 1930 Ford that he has been converting to an old-time custom hot rod for the last 10+ years. It’s a labor of love named “Hellion” which was a nickname for our deceased mom Helen. I drove his Toyota truck with camper shell.

Rim and sidewalls ...
We left about 7 am in the morning, and at 9:30 a.m. or so, out in the desert about 9 miles south of Henderson, Nevada (a suburb of Las Effing Vegas), a tire on the trailer blew. Spectacularly. I flashed my lights, our prearranged signal, and we pulled over. He hadn’t even known the tire was gone. But it’s a good thing we didn’t try to keep going; much of what was left of the tire was wrapped around the rear axle and brake line. You can see part of it in the shadow in the lower left of the picture.

Anyway, we called U-Haul, who called a local contracted tire dealer, and they were out to fix the tire lickety-split. If you call TWO HOURS in the heat (ranging from 93-99 degrees over the 2 hours) lickety-split. To be fair, U-Haul had to filter the claim down from a national number to the local dealers to the appropriate contractor, who was in North Las Vegas, a 40 minute drive away. And they did keep in contact by phone every 15 minutes or so to see how we were doing and keep us updated. The guy who came out (Hector, a god in our books who was nicely tipped) had it fixed in 15 minutes and had brought us four icy cold, refreshing bottles of water. Yes, we had water packed along (packed being the operative word) and a bottle each up front in our cabs. But it is hard not to drink a lot when you are sweating buckets.

So, after that there wasn’t even a hint of a problem. We did the speed limit, stopped about 3 times for gas and potty breaks or to grab and split a sandwich. By 8:00 in the evening we were home, with almost an hour of light left to unload the hot rod and Steve’s overnight essentials. On the left is a picture of my view of the truck and trailer with the hot-rod on it, taken through the windshield (sorry if there are smashed bugs on the windshield, hehe).

On Friday we returned the trailer so he could begin unloading the van, and we are more than halfway done - arranging things in our storage sheds, etc - as we go. I`m getting rid of an old antique washstand that I had in one of our guest bedrooms - I think cousin Kim is taking it because our kids didn’t want it. In its place is an antique (forties-era, lovely but not noteworthy) desk that belonged to our grandfather, then our mother in turn. When the desk is properly oiled and ready to begin its new useful life, Grandpa`s old red and white paperweight - the one that started my collection - will return to pride of place on its desk.

Finally, to end this post in another recap, I promised I would only give periodic updates on my progress on Weight Watchers, and I have chosen the end of the month to do that. As of last Tuesday (which marked my 5th full week on the plan), I have lost 8.6 pounds. Again, my goal is to change my lifestyle by eating healthier and moving more. There is no competition or race involved. So, I consider it a successful July. And a hot one that I don`t wish to repeat!
Cathy maroon

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A Finish and Pineapple Progress

The weather today (Tuesday) is delightful - it just finally reached 80 degrees F. It began raining last night and rained through the night and early morning, cooling things down. Being a mountain valley, the Salt Lake Valley is a dry climate, so the cool is very refreshing, not sauna-like.

Over the weekend I finished the denim and flannel quilt(s) from my 3rd Quarter Finish-Along goals. Originally I thought I’d make a picnic quilt, but I wasn’t loving that idea. I just wanted it GONE. One of my friends (thanks, MaryAnne!) suggested making kennel quilts out of them, and that is exactly what I did. Either way, it’s DONE.

This is before they were washed. Upon washing, the edges fray, making it nice and soft. There are 8 of them, and they measure about 13x20” (each) or so. This was #9 on my FAL list, which you can see HERE.

Now I can take these 8 quilts, along with the 12 quilts and 2 pillows from last month, to the Best Friends Animal Shelter (a no-kill facility). YAY!

Tomorrow I fly to Lake Havasu, AZ to meet up with my brother and help him finish loading his U-Haul truck. Then on Thursday we will drive back to Utah. I am driving his truck with camper shell and he is driving the U-Haul with a trailer (carrying his hot rod). The driving time is about 8 hours, but I am not sure if we will average the speed limit. Plus, there will be bathroom, food and gas breaks. Cross your fingers that there are no vehicle breakdowns! I don’t like driving through desert (AZ - Las Vegas - Southern Utah) in July. With a little luck, and if we can leave by 7 am or so, we could be home in the Salt Lake Valley by 6pm - with enough time to unload some stuff. I. Am. Not. Looking. Forward. To. This. Trip.  But needs must..... At least Bruce will have dinner waiting for us, LOL!!

Also, I’ve finished all 24 of the pineapple blocks, and here they are on my design board.

This is NOT their layout. There will be 2” (finished) sashing between columns and blocks. The setting will be six pineapples across and four down, staggered. I’ve got all the sashing cut, but won’t start the top assembly until the weekend, most likely. I have that green pineapple bedsheet for a backing, but have not yet auditioned any bindings. All in good time.
Cathy maroon

Friday, July 21, 2017

My Friendship Stars

You may not know it, but the blog title has a double meaning. Friendship Stars (a variation block) are one of the selected blocks I’ve been making throughout the year as we move from color to color every month for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.  My FAVORITE friendship stars this week are two little girls, as you’ll see momentarily.

First, let’s talk about the stars I sewed. All 42 of them. All these blue FS’s bring me up to a total of 122 blocks. I will need a (revised) total of 136 for the quilt I’m planning, which has been downsized. I will make at least a dozen each of pink and orange as their months come along, so I will have wiggle room to edit blocks that aren’t really doing it for me. Like maybe those wildly-printed stars with leftover banjo fabric.

And yet, they may not be the butt-ugliest. We will have to wait and see.....  These blocks finish at 6” each.  I have to send a big cyber hug and many thanks to Cathy at Sane, Crazy Crumby Quilting for suggesting that using the EZ angle ruler might be a better and faster way to make my HSTs. She was right, of course, and it's thanks to her that I got all these done. Some of those damn banjo HSTs, which were trimming leftovers, have been sitting around for 2 years since I made THIS quilt for DH.

Linking up to Angela’s Scrappy Saturday for our weekly Rainbow Scrap Challenge party. Stop by and see all the creativity in blue!

Anyway, with the remaining banjo HST’s, I made these 4 blocks:

I may sew them together in one giant block, or use them individually. Either way, they will become parts for kennel quilts, because if I never see this fabric again, it will be too soon.

As diversionary sewing from all the blue and banjos, I worked on my pineapples. I really love the green chevron fabric (what I had left of it) in the pineapple crowns....

I need a total of 24 pineapples, so these will continue to provide sewing refreshment, just like the real thing.

And as for my favorite Friendship Stars? These two seven-and-a-half-year-olds:

Left: Zoe   Right: London
Cousin Kim and her granddaughter Zoe came over Friday to play with me and my granddaughter London. In the morning we went to Wheeler Farm, a local working historic farm where I worked for 4 years. (See all my many posts under the keywords Wheeler Farm). We took wagon rides, visited the animals, saw a blacksmith demonstration, the girls got to brush down a cow (it wasn’t milking time), and played on the playground. We walked all over, and I got to visit with several of my former co-workers.

Kim and I noticed how similar our girls’ skin coloring was (olive), as well as their brown hair (long, with golden highlights, both with braids at that point), light blue-gray eyes, and long skinny legs. We decided they could be sisters. That delighted them to no end (they were holding hands within five minutes of meeting each other - oh to be seven again!). Naturally, then then decided they were TWINS.

We got back to my house at noonish, had lunch (picnic on the patio), then they alternated doing art projects indoors and swimming in the kiddie pools outdoors. Kim and I sat with them outside, in the shade of the apricot tree, with our feet in the pool. It was such a wonderful, relaxing day. We got NO sewing done and I didn’t get my hair cut - we were too sweaty, tired and lazy after the farm excursion. We did chat, drink iced coffee, and laughed with the girls. Kim took some great pix of the girls at the farm, and I hope she sends them to me so I can share one or two. I only got this one above, late in the day....

We are going to do this again in a couple weeks. I think it will probably take that long for Kim and I to recover.....

Cathy maroon

Friday, July 14, 2017

Forever in Blue, Jean!

Even though my birthstone is an aquamarine, blue has never been one of my favorite colors..... until a year or two ago. Nowadays, almost half my clothes are blue, I find it easier finding (and collecting) cute blue fabrics, and I sure as heck am enjoying sewing with blue this month!

This week, I started with two Geese Migration blocks, a pattern by Cynthia Brunz. I’m a big fan of hers. The Geese Migration quilt takes 25 blocks, and with these 2 I only have 12 completed. Looks like this will be an ongoing project - just workin’ it until I have enough...

Next, I threw together 16 bowtie blocks. Each one is only 4.5” (unfinished). At this small size, it is definitely a multi-year project; I am about halfway on these, too.

And then I did 16 Plus blocks, each one will finish at 6”.  Now, depending on how I want to finish these - and I have some ideas finally - this project WILL finish this year. Yay!  I already have 85 of the approximate 104 blocks I need, with orange and pink and darks (black, brown, gray) still to go.

So I thought I’d play with them on the design board. Seeing them like this, I can tell there are several that will not make the cut. I don’t like some of those purple ones for sure, and a red or two are iffy. So, I will just sew along on my merry way through the remaining colors and pick my favorites for the quilt. The rest can go on the back or into kennel quilts.

This week was our wedding anniversary - #14 for Bruce and me. We always forget it (how’s THAT for an old married couple?). This time, I did remember about noonish, when a friend of mine texted a Happy Anniversary message. LOL, thanks Terri! And then I reminded Bruce when he got home from work, and we laughed and laughed. On our first anniversary, we were lying in bed talking before falling asleep and realized our anniversary was getting close. Neither one of us could remember the exact day, so I had to run downstairs and check out a copy of our marriage license! I jumped back into bed and yelled “Happy Anniversary!”. You can see what romantics we are. Truly, every day is such happiness for us both after previous marriage experiences. And that’s all we need to say about that.

I did work on one of my Finish-Along projects. These three blocks are remnants of an old quilt from my ex-hub’s side of the family. They’re probably about 70-80 years old. I squared them up and bound them, adding little hanging corners on the backsides. They are about 14” square. I am not considering them done until I write up and print off (on a fabric label that I can sew to the back) the information and story about the original quilt. When that part is done, I will call them finished and will then do a full blog post.

I’ve been working on sewing yellow pineapple blocks and also my Friendship Star Variation blocks. I have more than a dozen of those done, but plenty to go. I`ll save them for next week.

Today (Friday) I went to the zoo with Cousin Kim and her two granddaughters, so I didn’t get any sewing in. We had a lot of fun, even though it was hot. And certainly all the walking is a good thing. Next Friday they are coming to hang out here, and my granddaughter London will also be here. The girls will have fun playing together. We plan to take them to Wheeler Farm (where I used to work) in the morning. We’ll also set up the large kiddie pool and let them “swim” and play outdoors or wherever. Kim and I will read, sew, (napping is probably out of the question), and Kim’s giving me a haircut. Hot fun in the summertime.....

Linking up to Rainbow Scrap Challenge Scrappy Saturday at Angela’s Blog.

Cathy maroon

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Finish-Along Goals for 3rd Quarter

I can’t believe we are already into the third quarter of the year. Time not only flies, it is breaking the sound barrier..... So, these are my goals for the 3rd quarter of the Finish-Along.
They are all in various stages of completion, and I have no idea how many I can realistically finish as I keep up with my regular Rainbow Scrap Challenge sewing, the kennel quilts I sew for local animal shelters, etc etc.  I am linking up to the 3rd Quarter Finish Along Goals Linky Party here.

1.   The Never-Ending Farm Girl Quilt.

This has been on my finish list for many quarters. The hard part of that, for me,  is that dear sweet Lori Holt keeps coming out with more and cuter blocks all the time and I want to add them in. But the blocks I’ve made are 12” blocks, so I think that unless I want a quilt the size of Cleveland, I ought to divide them up to make more than one quilt. Yep. Let’s do it!

2.  Let it Snow.

There really is no rush on this one, but with all the Christmas in July hoopla, to say nothing of our temperatures soaring over 100 degrees, I think this should be near the top of the list!

3.  Tulip Quilt for Diane

This is a joint project with my friend Terri. We have split up the number of blocks so that each of us only has about 17-18 to do. However, I want extras for a quilt for me. If I can get all that done, along with the fact that I will be doing the quilting, I will count this as one of my projects.

4.  Pillow Shams to match Aria bedspread

The quilt was finished last year, but my decorative pillows are still naked. I will have to piece these from remnants, which should be a fun design exercise.

5.  Bruce’s Guitar Quilt

This is a pattern by Robbie Joy Ecklow that is designed for a quilt that is 38x47”. I have been working on repeating design elements so that I can expand it into a quilt that is at least 60x72, preferably a bit larger. So, even though I haven’t cut into the fabric yet, it is a WIP.

6.  The Pineapple Quilt
Finished and blogged about HERE.

One block down, ??? more to go. We will see what I have when I run out of either yellow scraps or patience.

7.   Rainbow Bookcase

This is one of my Rainbow Scrap Challenge projects, and I am nearly peeing my pants with excitement (can I say that?) over it.  All it needs is an orange shelf, 3 pink blocks to add to my pink/red shelf, and one other dark block for the purple shelf.

8.   Selvage Quilt

Another Rainbow Scrap project that still needs about 5 columns. Once it gets down to the last one or two columns, I will just finish it up. I like to stagger my RSC finishes.

9.  Denim and Flannel Picnic Quilt
Finished and blogged about HERE.

I started this one about 10 years ago and have fallen deeply out of love with it. I am only finishing it so that I can give it away. It is denim and flannel, and was always intended as a picnic quilt blanket. And it is very heavy, as you might imagine.

10.   Repurposing Patriotic Quilt into 3 Wall Hangings

This are pieces saved from a degraded quilt made by my ex-husband’s grandmother. I saved the quilt (first, out of the trashcan in 1982), then ended up snipping out the intact parts. These three pieces will be trimmed and bound for my three adult children, with pictures and a story about their great-grandmother.

11.   All You Need is Love

Will be a present for my daughter’s birthday later this year.

12-15.  Baby Quilts for Charity

These are whole-cloth baby quilts that just need to be quilted, trimmed and bound.

And in between those projects, I hope to get some sleep......

Cathy maroon

Friday, July 7, 2017

Rhythm of the Blues

With a tip of the hat to Mary Chapin Carpenter (listen to Rhythm of the Blues here), I’ve been sewing on my blue scraps at quite a clip. That song, with its understated guitar and her great voice and beautiful melody, has been my theme song this week.

The blue selvage column is on the left. Then I sewed together all the columns I could for the Rainbow Selvage quilt. All I have left are two orange columns and two pink columns when we get to those colors. The red column is already done. Oh, and I may add a brown, black or gray column to the very right. Depends.

Next up were my string blocks. I had a couple blue blocks from last year because I started them late in the summer. So, since they’re 8.5” each and will be sewn together into big blocks of 4, I had to make six of them this month.

And here are all 8 together. I still have quite a way to go on these blocks because I only have 4 (resulting in one large 16” block) of most colors. This will continue into next year as I accumulate more scraps and strings.

And then, of course, there are the bookshelf quilt blocks! So many good titles this month! We have that runaway bestseller (pun intended) “Embracing Horses” by Laurel Burch as well as Metro Cafe and Treasure Bay by Elizabeth Miles.

EEEEEEEK! There is a mouse on the shelf!!  Thanks to my friend Mary Anne for suggesting it. Mary Anne and I used to work together on the staff of the Crazy Quilting Quarterly magazine and still keep up with each others’ doings.

This month I only had to do three blue blocks, so here they are, section by section so you can see them close up.

The blue blocks were added to the aqua blocks from February to form the blue shelf. Then I added the actual “wood shelves” themselves and sewed together three rows:

Yep, we are getting closer to having a finished library. I still need a whole shelf of orange, 3 blocks of pink to finish off the pink/red row, and one block of black or brown to finish off the purple row, which will go beneath the blue row. Progress!

Linking up to Scrappy Saturday at Angela’s for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.

Last month it was my intention to dig into my yellow scraps and do a pineapple quilt. Although I did make a start (a lot of cutting), I was only able to finish one block. But the pineapple sewing will continue on the sidelines as I make my way through blue in July. Hopefully I can do one or two per week at least. Here is the first one.

There is no real pattern on this; I just eyeballed it and decided to use 2.5” strips of yellow to make the body of the pineapple and greens for the top. The 2.5” HST’s so far have come from my scrap drawers. I`ll have to break down eventually, though, and piece fresh ones as these blocks progress. I haven’t thought yet about quantity or settings. The pineapples will all be yellow, with the exception of one rogue pineapple that will either be aqua or pink. We will see when the time comes. I’m pretty laid back about this one.

And there is one final project that I haven’t introduced you to yet. But first, a little background.  As I’ve mentioned before, my husband Bruce is in a folk trio with two guys that he’s known since he was a teenager. Yep, back in 1964 they got together and formed the Muddy Gutter Boys, modeling themselves along the lines of The Kingston Trio. They’ve played thousands of gigs over the years. And, they are still friends, as are the wives and all the kids and now all the grandkids. Their gigs aren’t as regular now due to health issues, but we still get together to practice about twice per month. The three couples are Rob (upright bass) and Diane, Mike (guitar and banjo) and Terri; and Bruce (guitar and banjo) and me.  And as of this month, we are all retired. Diane was the last holdout.

Rob has been struggling with his huge upright bass, so Mike, who is a luthier (guitarmaker) in his post-retirement life, decided to make him a smaller base. Naturally, they wanted to amplify it, so that is where Bruce came in with his electronics experience. The group has quite the sound system when they perform. So, Mike and Bruce have been tinkering for weeks on the bass and amplifier as a Christmas present for Rob.

So then Terri and I decided we would collaborate on a big, comfy quilt for Diane. After finding out her favorite colors (another story, too long for here), we searched Pinterest and came up with the idea for a tulip quilt. It looks like others I’ve seen on Pinterest, but I just put together this test block from scratch rather than purchasing a pattern. It measures 8.5 x 16.5” (unfinished). We’ll be using our recently purchased pink and green fabrics as well as plenty of additions from our respective stashes. This is going to be so much fun!

I hope you have a wonderful summer week, full of fun, family and good health!

Cathy maroon

Saturday, July 1, 2017

June Recap and Happy July!

June was a great month, wasn’t it? It was yellow in the studio and yellow and sunshine-y outside. Once again I managed (this time by the skin of my teeth) to get my yellow sewing goals, kennel quilts and other personal donation quilt commitments done. No thanks go to Darla or Alfie, my feline supervisors. They were too busy enjoying the Cat Days of Summer, napping away in their favorite spots. Somehow, I managed without them. I think they may be getting ready for Pets on Quilts (see badge in sidebar).

The collage above shows my RSC blocks for June: 16 - 4.5” bowties; 1 crumb slab block  that was made into a kennel quilt (more on that in a minute); 4 - 8.5” crumb blocks to add to the ones I made last year; 2 selvage columns; 13 - 6.5” Friendship Stars; 2 Geese Migration blocks; 5 bookshelf blocks (which make one whole “shelf"); and 12 - 6.5” plus blocks. Total = 63.  Linking up to Angela’s Scrappy Saturday for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge participants.

My yellow crayon was already done from last year, so I made all the remaining crayon color blocks (4) and finished up the Color Me Crayon Quilt, which I wrote about Thursday, HERE. It is my first 2017 RSC finish.

I started another yellow project - a pineapple quilt - but only got most of it cut out. It will go into my third quarter goals for the Finish Along.  But I want to show you the great vintage sheet that cousin Kim found for me - it’s in the bottom of the picture below. Pineapples!  It’s going to be the backing and possibly the binding, too.

It was a mad dash over the last couple days to get the kennel quilts done this month. At the beginning of the month, before I started on the scrap blocks, I pieced about a half dozen of them. But then good ol’ Sally at The Objects of Design sent me some great selvages, and several of them had generous amounts of kitty fabric still on them. How could I not use those? So I pieced some more tops. Then there was my yellow crumb slab - another kennel quilt. I finally ended up with 12.

First, these three. In these I used the blocks and pieces and other black and white bits (see the animal print backing?) left over from a quilt I did for my brother-in-law last February.

I matched up Sally’s generous selvages with the last of my pink Laurel Burch kitty fabric to make two pink quilts.

Other leftover blocks (blue and some green) that were left over from my Rainbow Rails vintage sheet quilt were added to some blue strips of kitty fabric that I had leftover from the three kitty quilts I made last year for my granddaughters. By the way, if you can go back through my quilt gallery (link is just under the header) to refer to the quilts I’m talking about if you care to.

The fishy flannel, below, was a small piece I found in a thrift store for 69c, and it did a couple kennel quilt backs.

More kitty print fabric, a yellow scrappy backing and another great selvage from Sally.

Here is an out-of-focus close-up (sorry) of that paw-some selvage fabric. I’m surprised Molly let Sally send it.

And finally, the quilt made from the yellow crumb slab (both front and back) AND my favorite - a total hodgepodge of leftover scraps of cat fabric. Waste not, want not, right?

The color for July in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge is blue. I have a large drawerful of blue scraps. Along with my blue blocks this month, my goal is to make 2 pillow shams to cover either the 2 Euro-sized pillows or the two large rectangle pillows for our bed to match the Aria quilt I finished last fall.

My Weight Watchers is going well. I’ve pretty much learned the program and have settled in for the long haul. I had a very successful first weigh in (lost 4 pounds). Although I don’t plan on giving weekly updates (you’re welcome), I may mention my progress now and then.

One final thing. I added a “Subscribe by Email” widget to my sidebar, if that makes it easier for some of you.  :-)  And now...... back to sewing.

Cathy maroon