Tuesday, February 26, 2019

OMG! Lattice Bird Quilt Top Finished!

I am so thrilled to have the top to Lattice Birds finished! It measures 86x108”, which makes it the largest quilt top I’ve ever sewn. In fact, it’s so large that I really have no place to properly display it for pictures, so you’ll have to bear with me here.  :-)   Finishing this quilt top was my OMG - One Monthly Goal - for February.  So, I’m linking up to the finish linky party with Patty at Elm Street Quilts to celebrate.

My February goal was to get the top pieced, bordered and trimmed of threads by month-end. February is a short month and we were on vacation for a good part of it, so it was a tall order. But I did it and even added three instead of just two borders.

I couldn’t decide whether to have a green or a blue stop border. So, I draped some fabrics, took pictures and Bruce and I looked at them on the computer. Blue was the hands-down favorite.

And here are some photos, although the quality isn’t very good. The quilt top is way too big for my design board, and because my studio is in the basement, the ceilings are a bit lower, and there is a soffit in the upper right portion above the quilt.

I had to wrap the quilt around the corner to get the entire view in, below.

The kitties wasted no time in hiding behind the quilt. I’m hoping they haven’t been talking to Molly much because she’s a natural climber. Alfie and Darla don’t climb things as a rule (their cat condo is the exception), so I hope they don’t get any ideas....

I should have moved the tables before I pinned up the quilt, because once it was up, there was no way to move the tables out of the way for pictures.

But for now, these pictures will suffice to at least prove that I finished the top, which was my February OMG goal. Now I need to finish piecing the back and prep it all to send to the quilter. I am hoping for a quick turn-around so I can get this finished up by the end of March. But once it’s sent off, it’s out of my hands and into hers. And that's worth two in the bush. I think.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Sewing More Sunshine

February is always short. But this month, with a trip to Arizona to visit family and seek out warmth and sunshine, it seemed even shorter than usual. I had to get my sewing game on and finish whipping my yellow scraps into shape this last week.

To that end, I sewed six 6.5” crumb blocks. Then I added them to the six from last year and made three Crumbcakes blocks for one of my Rainbow Scrap Challenge quilts for this year. 

I only need 9 more small (6.5”) blocks in varying colors to finish up all the Crumbcakes large blocks. This one will probably finish out sometime mid-year.

And then I made some bitcoin blocks in yellow and in gold.  I’m keeping these only two columns wide because I’m thinking I may eventually use them for a rainbow border.  Then again, maybe not. Time will tell.

That completed my RSC scrap work for the month, YAY!! Here are all my yellow blocks.

6    9.5” strip blocks
4    selvage four-patch blocks
12  nine-patch variation blocks
1    row of yellow selvage tumblers (shown with the red row from last month)
7    Crackers blocks at 7.5”
8    Anvil blocks at 8.5”
3    Crumbcakes blocks 
4     Bitcoin blocks

My yellow scraps aren’t gone, but they are definitely decimated!! Come see what others have done with their yellow scraps at our weekly Rainbow Scrap Challenge linkup

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While on vacation, I sewed together some Happy Blocks with some elephant fabric I found on a steep clearance last summer. I thought I had 75 blocks, but it turns out there were only 65. So, I’m making two quilts with 30 blocks each and will use the leftover blocks on the back. I sewed up this top yesterday. The other one uses the same fabrics but will have a slightly different block placement. With the blocks measuring 10”, both quilts will finish at 50x60” and be for donation. I’d like to get them done next week so I can have a couple February finishes.

And speaking of vacation, my vacation post is HERE and includes a picture of Saguaro Sunset in the wild. It also includes lots of cool pictures of the house we stayed in courtesy of Bruce’s sister Annette and her husband Glenn (who we just found out yesterday lost their adult son a couple days ago. Don’t even know details yet). 

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The bulk of my work this week has been on assembling the Lattice Birds top. And after all the deliberation over color placement, I can see I accidentally switched a couple rows (rows 7 and 9 should be reversed) near the bottom and there are some unintended clusters of color. But oh well. Don’t they say that birds of a feather flock together?!?

Now I need to make some final decisions about borders. It will definitely have about a 4-5” dark blue floral border of the focus fabric (seen on a lot of the birds and the center patch of every Irish Chain block). But I think it may also need a stop border in white or bright green. Or one in green AND one in white before adding the wide blue border.

Since these are also 10” blocks, the top currently measures 70x90”. So it could tentatively end up at around 84x104”. I’ve got to get crackin’ on this because it’s my OMG (One Monthly Goal) to get the top finished up in February. That only leaves me a few days to make up my mind and finish sewing it (and press and snip loose threads yet again!). 

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Arizona Vacation and REAL Saguaros!

As promised (or threatened, depending on your point of view), this is a post about our vacation to Arizona earlier this month. We left a day late because of a nasty snowstorm that dumped a foot of snow in the Salt Lake Valley. We had to make a few last-minute arrangement shuffles, but it was no real problem.

On the way driving down through Utah, part of Nevada and the length of Arizona, we had nice weather. Cool, but clear. On the second day, we stopped in an area of saguaros to get a glamour shot of Saguaro Sunset, the quilt I made for DH’s sister Annette and her husband Glenn.

Saguaros are HUGE!!  Did you know that Saguaro is pronounced Sa-WA-ro? The G is silent. Also, the saguaro’s scientific name, Carnegiea gigantea, is named after Andrew Carnegie? And the final interesting fact is that saguaros don’t grow their first arm (if they grow one at all) until they are 75-100 years old. They can live to be 150 years old. Saguaros are by far my favorite cactus, and so iconic and representative of the American Southwest.

Another photo to share is the picture of the McCartney Road turnoff on the highway just north of Tucson. Is it THE McCartney (Paul), you ask? Yes! Remember that Paul and Linda had a horse ranch out there - Linda had attended the U of Arizona in Tucson. And then there are the words in the Beatles’ song “Get Back”

Jojo was a man who thought he was a loner

But he knew it wouldn't last

Jojo left his home in Tucson, Arizona

For some California grass

That’s enough trivia for today, LOL, so let’s Get Back to the trip.....

The annual Tubac Arts Festival is a big thing in southern Arizona. It’s been going on for decades. But this year the weather was lousy (cool, windy, rainy) on Wednesday and Saturday. We arrived on Friday and did visit all the booths and vendors, although I didn’t buy anything this time. I was saving my money for the regular shops in Tubac, which we visit the week after Festival concludes. However, I did take a picture of one booth.

Just thought these old records made into wall hangings and clocks were a cool idea. And below is a picture of a large new statue in the sculpture garden in town. There are lots of them there - I had more pictures last year HERE - but this was my favorite this year.

One day we took a drive south to the border, all of 20 minutes by highway. We just went south on Interstate 19 - the only metric highway in the USA - to Nogales. The distances are in km, but the speeds are in mph so as not to confuse people. HA!!  

Anyway, the sheer number - acres and acres - of produce warehouses along this I-19 corridor from Rio Rico south to the border at Nogales is mind boggling. It is one of the major transportation arteries between the US and Mexico for produce. My desire was to see the border wall in Nogales - the one that has recently had concertina wire added to it that I read about in the Washington Post. The wall wasn’t difficult to find.

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In this next section, I’m going to rant. I don’t usually espouse my political views on my blog, and I promise not to make it a habit. But our visit to Nogales really affected me. 

Quick backstory: When I was a teenager, I spent the summer of 1970 in Europe and had the opportunity to visit Berlin and the Berlin Wall. I remember walking to the wall one evening with two friends from our hostel in West Berlin. There was a viewing platform we were able to climb, and we did. We couldn’t see much over the wall in the dark (although there was a street lamp), but we could see the backlit silhouette of an armed guard in a tower, watching us. It was silent, eerie, soul-draining. 

That same feeling struck me as I viewed this scene in Nogales.

Other visitors were there too, on foot and in cars, to take pictures. A Border Patrol vehicle was parked down the way to watch us. Actually, I had no problem with that - the agents are just doing their job. So I waved. At least they were on our side of the fence and presumably had no rifle trained on us.....

Don’t get me wrong. I understand why countries have borders and checkpoints and immigration protocols, and why we need to fund customs agents and technology, etc. etc. But somehow, dividing a city in two (probably a century or two ago) and then adding insult to injury by heaping literally tons of wire on the steel barrier....... REALLY?

I think this is not only SHAMEFUL, but WASTEFUL. Just how much frickin’ concertina wire do they need? The scale of the wall that divides Nogales, Arizona from Nogales, Mexico is massive and grows from a concrete base that is already up to a person’s thighs. Look at this young lady standing next to it (pic taken from our car). 

There was and is no logical reason, other than some bully show of machismo, to resort to this. But then that is the method of the current Administration. God help us all.

End of Rant.
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I did get some sewing done on our trip, but I’ll share those pictures in another post. Basically, I made about 60 elephant-themed Happy Squares (10”) and started some string blocks. But we also visited family, went out to dinner, hosted a family dinner, shopped, basked in the sun at the Beer Garden, did puzzles, read, watched a couple movies, stargazed through Bruce’s new telescope (wow! we could see craters on the moon!) took walks, etc. So relaxing. 

The house we stayed in belong to Bruce’s sister Annette and her husband Glenn. It is their second home. They obtained it (and all the contents from the previous owner) about a a year and a half ago, and have been working diligently to fix it up (new roof, new electrical, plumbing fixes, a new shower) and haul out over 8 dumpsters-ful of trash and years of previous-owner detritus. It was built in the sixties as a ranch - hacienda style as befitting the Arizona landscape.

The home was owned by “Amy”, who was a photographer who moved from North Carolina but lived in NYC most of her life. It is all of her and her family’s possessions that were given to Annette and Glenn - three generations worth. 

The front had a circular driveway with a fountain (not operational) in the center front. 

There was a large saguaro cactus at each intersection (entrance/exit) of the driveway to the front road.

See the holes in the saguaro below? Those are made by birds. Yep, saguaros often house birds and it’s not uncommon to see these holes (you can click to enlarge).

Inside, you enter into the massive living room (the door is at extreme left).

See the sofa in the picture above? That is the sofa upon which Madonna (the singer) posed nude for photographs taken by Amy and her partner. There are actual copies of the photos in the house (and on the internet, I might add).  We didn’t use this room at all except for egress. The furniture is all antique. 

Below: looking from the front door through the living room and the doors leading into the back area of the house (which was added later).

In the kitchen, you can look back through the doors and this 2-way hutch into the living room. That little round table was where I set up my sewing. Through the arched doorway is a butler’s pantry with a skylight.

Annette and Glenn have done so much to this place since we visited it last year. Glenn’s latest project is waxing and sealing these beautiful Mexican floor tiles. This is the view of the working area of the kitchen. So pleasant to look out these windows in the morning! The only thing we had to bring was our coffee pot and coffee grinder and beans (we’re kinda-sorta coffee snobs).

And this is the view in the other direction, looking through the large dining area to the sitting room. It’s where we spent the most of our time.

So many odd things about this house!! This is a little room built in the middle of this great dining-living area. In it is housed a lot of electrical stuff, cleaning supplies, etc. It was covered (as are a few other walls) with barn wood brought from North Carolina.  You can see some of the curiosities in the cubby cabinet to the right and the faux (non-working) fireplace to the left. Oh, I guess the cattle skull, branch wreath and wooden bowls are rather curious, too!

A view from the dining area to the back outside. You can see the covered patio, trees and an outbuilding (including dumpster!)

Same room looking back toward the kitchen. Here, you can see doors (left) that lead to a central enclosed atrium area. Amy used it as an office. It has a skylight. I used it for a well-lit daytime place to work on puzzles! The whole floorpan is rather circular in nature.

This was once a master bedroom. Right now it houses an amazing amount of vintage Victorian furniture; bed sets, armoire, chests, trunks, chairs, tables, etc.  and isn’t really ready yet for guests.

We stayed in the lovely guest room. The antique bed was as sturdy as the day it was built! Lots of antique furniture in here, too, but I’m only scratching the surface with all these pictures.

Outside in the huge yard (this house sits on about 4.5 acres), this is the view beyond the back fence.

Side yard.

Along the back patio. Remember, it’s still a work in process. But doesn’t it have great “bones”?!?!

We enjoyed staying here, and hosting a dinner (I made my family-famous Hungarian goulash) for the whole fam-damily and taking in all the beauty and antiquity. Annette and Glenn were so kind and generous to us, and we loved spending time with them. It felt like going from the outhouse (AKA the Bates Motel - the old family trailer) to the penthouse!

Annette has a fun sense of humor, just like Bruce. When she told us that the only thing we’d need to bring was a coffee pot, I jokingly lamented that I would miss not having to dodge the frozen snake meat in the freezer (Bruce’s brother Dennis, who owns the Bates Motel family trailer keeps snake meat specimens in the freezer there. Don’t ask; I don’t know why. It’s a well-known family fact).

About halfway through our visit, Annette asked me if I’d found anything interesting in the freezer there at Amy’s house and mentioned she’d left some frozen Key Lime Pie there if we wanted it (we didn’t). But when I went to look for it, I saw two other small containers. I opened them and just about died laughing. Annette had wrapped toy snakes in the containers!

That’s it for the vacation pictures! I’ll be back soon with an update on my quilting projects. Thanks for dropping by, especially if you read this novella all the way through!  xo

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Eternal Sunshine of the Never-ending Scrap Drawer....

Are your scraps like mine, breeding on their own when left alone in drawers and shelves and baskets and bins? Have you EVER known ANYONE who has used up all their scraps? Me neither.

Well, we are back from vacation as I post this, but we haven’t even left as I write this. Isn’t the internet a wonderful thing? That means I’ll save the vacation recap for another post. See how nice I am? You can get all the yellow scrappy goodness here without having to sit through a vacation narrative with pictures. You’re most welcome.

I’m adding these fun and bright yellow sunshine-y blocks to the Rainbow Scrap Saturday linkup. I know that we’re all appreciating these little bits of fabric sunshine so much during this long and dreary winter.

First up are 12 little 9-patch blocks. I’ve heard them called Lover’s Knots, but when I look that block up, this is not what I see. Regardless, it has a lot of possibilities. These little blocks are untrimmed. Why trim them now when they’ll sit around for months on their shelf, growing more stray threads. Scraps are just like that. So, I’ll trim them when I decide on a layout.

And here are some 9.5” yellow string blocks. String blocks make me so happy, it’s just ridiculous. Especially yellow ones, because they’re so happy too. Here are my six string blocks, smiling away.

Well, in keeping with the time-traveling nature of this post, I’m off to finish packing (as I write this) and off to finish unpacking (as I post this). It’s so wonderful to be home!!

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Setting my OMG for February

It’s time to set my One Monthly Goal for February, and I am linking up with Patty at Elm Street Quilts. I find that the challenge to complete one particular project each month (even when I’m not successful in finishing) helps me to focus on something that has perhaps been languishing too long. I like moving everything along with no fabric left behind!

For this month, I’ve selected my Lattice Birds quilt. My goal is to finish the top during February. All 63 blocks are stitched and I’m beginning the assembly now. But this is not a slam dunk goal for several reasons.

First, there are some who may remember that while I was sewing these birds along with the Rainbow Scrap color of the month last year, I bought a pattern from The Pattern Basket and altered it to fit my needs. I wanted a 10” block to alternate with the Irish Chain blocks instead of the pattern’s 8” block. Also, as suggested by my friend Sally, I added a flip corner to the upper part of the front wing to round it. Also, I didn’t like all the tiny fiddly seams for sewing in a beak, so I made prairie points and inserted them in the seam instead. I also shortened the tail to accommodate the scale of the lattice.

So here is a typical bird with those changes made. What I had to before I began assembly  was to go back and stitch down the prairie point beaks with brown thread so that the quilt could eventually be machine quilted! That’s what I worked on today. Then I began the process of laying out the rows and figuring out who goes where. My design board isn’t large enough to accommodate all 9 rows, so the other four are in piles on the ironing board for now.

I also had a lot of quilty math to do to figure out if I had enough of the feature fabric (see the breast of the bird, above) to make a 6” border around the quilt AND do the back. I had to order two more yards. That will be a total of 10 yards that I’ve bought, but I love it so much that I should have just bought every.single.yard.still.available.

And finally, there is a lot of block trimming, seam spinning/pressing and thread cutting to do on these blocks as it will be critical to have flat seams and no dark showing through the white background.

So that’s my OMG - finish sewing the quilt top by the end of February. And did I mention that we’d be gone on vacation for a couple weeks? Yeah, it’s going to be a challenge!

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Welcome Yellow February!

January is over for another year - yay!  February is one step closer to spring, and I’ve been happily celebrating with the Rainbow Scrap Challenge color of the month, yellow. We can generate the warmth and brightness of the sun right in our own studios! Come see what we’re all doing at our weekly Rainbow Scrap Saturday linkup.

I got a lot done with my yellow scraps in the last few days, primarily because we will be on vacation for a nice chunk of February. It seems I always tackle my selvages first, and once again it was so. First are the selvage 4-patches. The selvage patches are 4.5” unfinished. They’re paired with 4.5” patches of a low volume neutral to make 8.5” inch four-patch blocks. I made four blocks in yellow.

And I finished a row (14 blocks; 7 selvage tumblers, 7 colored fabric tumblers) for my selvage tumbler quilt. That’s not a very enticing name, but it’s just a working title for now.

I do plan to alternate the orientation of the tumblers every row, but yellow will be two rows away from red, so is cut the same way. As this will eventually be assembled in rainbow order, a row of orange tumblers (starting with an upside down orange fabric tumbler, then alternating) will go between these two rows. Come assembly time, I may have to make some additional tumblers or else trim the edges, not sure which yet. The row width as it is now measures about 43”. The height per row (after joining) will be 4”, so I’m figuring I’ll need about a dozen rows, and then a border to surround it all and get it to a good size for a donation quilt.

Next up were the Cracker blocks - seven of them.  My yellows are ranging from very pale to very gold, almost golden brown with some fabrics (which you’ll see when I post my string blocks later in the month). The Crackers are 7.75” unfinished.

And then the Anvil blocks. These are fun to chain piece and hence they whip up really fast! They will finish at 8” each, and I plan to mix all the colors merrily in the quilt.

If you only catch my blog on Rainbow Scrap Saturdays, you can use these links to check out two finishes I had during the week. Saguaro Sunset is HERE and the Pink Selvage Donation Quilt is HERE. Or you can click the 2019 QUILTS page tab above.

Next week won’t see much, if any, scrap sewing as we’ll be leaving for Arizona and I’m not taking my yellow scraps. I am taking Bob, however, my trusty back-up sewing machine. And I am taking scraps, but they’re multi-colored strings. I plan to get started on a long-planned string quilt inspired by this quilt. It’s called Diamond Frenzy, was sewn by Nancy Messier and it was pinned from Facebook. The best tutorial for these blocks (in my opinion) is from Molly Flanders’ blog, HERE.

Inspiration: Diamond Frenzy by Nancy Messier
Along with the Rainbow Scrap color of the month, I’m trying to get a donation quilt done every month (and more than one if I can) using that color. With yellow, I’ll be focusing on using up a lot of my stray gold fabric chunks (and other colors too) to frame this cute elephant fabric into Happy Blocks. I’ve cut out 50 center blocks of 6.5” blocks (yes, my hands are numb) and the strips. I'll plan to sew up two quilt tops from them.

I’m also bringing along the next Pineapple Quilt to start if there is time.  And if there isn’t, there is always the rest of February to work on it.

But needless to say, sewing will not be my highest priority on vacation, LOL!! This time Cousin Kim is not joining us, so Bruce and I will take two leisurely days to drive down to Tubac. This time, for the first time, we won’t be staying in the Bates Motel family trailer. Instead, we are staying in the second home of Bruce’s sister Annette and her husband Glenn.  We’ll have a whole, beautiful house to ourselves, and it’s up in the hills above the town. There are lots roads and trails for walking. The Tubac Arts Festival will be going on while we’re there, and that will be fun too.