Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Under the Wire

Whew! I'm sneaking a post in here today, the 31st of July in the evening. I just finished my Spokes wall hanging under the wire. The deadline to meet and post my OMG (One Monthly Goal) is in a couple hours, LOL. But it's complete, including the hanging sleeve. 

Usually I prefer to show some in-process photos, but I just decided on Saturday that I was going to make a mad dash to the finish line, and I didn't take too many pictures.  

This is how the wall hanging started the month - with the black and white background finished, as well as the bicycle, basket and the base area of the flowers all fused on.  My goal was to completely finish this wallhanging by month-end.

Last Saturday I began cutting out flowers, leaves and flower centers out of the array of fabrics that I'd set aside. Several were cut from the final mix. I played with them on the design board and got an arrangement I liked and wanted to keep. Mistake. The design wall is vertical, and the flower and leaf pieces still had their backing attached. So, I took it down, removed the papers, and began again to arrange it on my sewing tables. When I once again got an arrangement I liked, I fused it down with the iron.  Here it is back up on the design board at that point.

Here's a close-up of the flowers and basket. The basket, again, is woven strips that was completed last month.

And here is a close-up of the spokes area. I really love how this area came together!

And then I basted the quilt on Sunday or Monday, can't actually remember. Next the quilting began. It is very narrow, almost matchstick-type quilting. Each row is approximately a half inch apart. They are not precise, although I did mark the center points on all four sides and started there. But the lines themselves are rather organic. The quilting took a long time - a couple several-hour sessions. Once the straight lines were done, I did some micro-stippling in the flowers and leaves to make sure to sew all the pieces down securely. Although I don't anticipate having to wash this wall-hanging, I don't want floppy flowers!

The binding and hanging sleeve came next, and it was done! I worked on it most of today (Wednesday) and it's done!

Spokes measures 32.5" x 37". It is perfectly square although I didn't press it well enough to hang perfectly straight. I'm glad I cut the background a couple inches wider on each side, because that gave me room to trim and square it up after quilting it to death!!

I'm so pleased to have this project done and hanging up. In JULY!!  Linking up to the OMG finished goal link-up at Patty's blog, Elm Street Quilts. I so appreciate her efforts in running this program to help us make and meet monthly goals!

Spokes was also Goal #5 on my 3rd Quarter Finish-Along list. I will link up there at the end of the quarter, but my goal list is HERE.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

The End of Pink... but not the Apricots

Our apricot tree is like the Energizer Bunny ... it just keeps going and going. This week, after taking 4 cases to Weight Watchers. They asked me how many trees we had. When I told theme only one tree, they found it hard to believe until I showed them the picture. Ha! I also took apricots to neighbors and a meeting I attended. That left me with a couple cases to deal with at home. We ate lots of fresh, yummy fruit. And then there were two more batches of jam, several quarts of frozen apricots, an apricot pie and some apricot turnovers. And yes, some went to waste before it could be dealt with. It makes me feel guilty, but on the other hand, I’m only human. We capped the blisteringly hot work week by filling the kiddie pool (meant for grandkids) and getting in it ourselves. We’re nothing if not immature. You’ll keep the secret, right?

And I got a lot of sewing done, too. I don’t know how the hours of some weeks can stretch to accommodate so much, while other weeks ricochet by in an instant. But this was a good, long week. 

First out from under the needle we’re these string blocks. There are 4 that will finish at 9” and 6 that will finish at 4”.

And then there were the bitcoins rows, made from 1.5x2.5" scraps.  These will eventually become part of a border, but I have a new block plan for them for next year.

I also sewed some little scraps and lingering waste triangles into some miscellaneous crumb blocks - two at 6.5" and four at 4.5" (top row, center in picture below). They will go into the Parts Department for eventual inclusion into a future quilt.

And that was the end of my pink scrap sewing for the month.  I'm thrilled to say that it decimated my huge drawer-full of pink scraps. Here is a recap picture of all the Rainbow Scrap blocks that I made in July. I'm linking these up to Angela's Scrappy Saturday post. 

A total of 77 blocks.  But wait, there's more!

I had so many pink scraps, that I sewed two pink quilts for Quilts for Kids. First up, Little Pink Scrap Quilt A (38x48"):

I used leftover 2.5" squares, leftover solid strips and tied the whole thing together with a cute piece of floral fabric - not a scrap, but any use of stash is good! 

Here is a detail of some of the heart and loop quilting I did (shown after quilt was washed).

And here is Little Pink Scrap Quilt B (44x53").  It, too, used leftover squares and strips, plus two 1-yard cuts of fabric (one sparkly, on back, and the hedgehog fabric border). 

I added the two pink quilts to the pile of baby-sized quilts I quilted for Quilts for Kids this month. Five other quilts quilted (sewn by others), plus the two pink ones finished entirely by me.

There is some quilting detail on one quilt I want to show you. I did some free-form loops and stars with variegated thread on this starry blue quilt (sewn by a man!)

So, my quilt finishes for the month are shown below. I'm most thrilled with Crumbcakes, of course on the top left. The Little Pink Scrap Quilt A was goal #9 from my Finish-Along Quarter 3 list, which you can see HERE. I'm particularly thrilled that I did two quilts instead of just one.
And a shout out here to Cousin Kim, who finished this lovely quilt for herself this month: 

It's the last weekend of July, and the summer is half over. Where does the time go? More importantly, DO YOU WANT SOME APRICOTS???????????

Saturday, July 20, 2019

International Sisters, Apricots and the Color Pink

When life gets so busy that it's hard to find time to write even one blog post per week, surely it's a sign that a relaxing summer is not on the calendar! Yeah, life is crazy. But it's mostly good crazy. 

The word of the week last week was APRICOTS. We picked several cases every other day, and so far have been able to find neighbors, friends, family, and the gang at Weight Watchers to take them off our hands. Even the birds have been enjoying them! To be sure, we've kept our share. After a couple hours picking and sorting, we come inside and begin processing. I'm channeling Bubba Gump here when I tell you we are making apricot jam (regular and low-sugar), frozen apricots, apricot puree, canned apricots, apricot fruit leather, and dehydrated apricots. And eating them warm from the tree by the dozens. If I had remembered to take a picture of the tree, you would see a definite depletion of the apricots compared to last week's picture. We are probably past the halfway point. Hopefully.

We did take time out for a doctor appointment (more about that later in the post). One day we had family over to learn how to make jam, and on Wednesday I had Cousin Kim and my friend Bonnae over and we sewed all day. It was heavenly. So, despite everything, I managed to crank out some pink blocks for Scrappy Saturday at Angela's Rainbow Scrap Challenge link-up.

First were 18 nine-patch variation blocks.

And then I sewed four 9.5" strip blocks and six 4.5" strip blocks. No plan yet for the smaller blocks. I just have so many pink strings that I wanted to use more of them. There are still plenty to add into other projects or wait their turn for next year.

Next up were the International Sisters blocks. These are the delightful former African Queen blocks that were re-drafted by my friend Preeti. I started making these in May with the color orange, then progressed to blue in June and now pink in July.  I ended up making dressing nine Sisters. Two are twins, and the ninth one was a little late to the party, but they are all present and accounted for!

I was so inspired by Preeti's thoughts and words as I read her blogpost this week, Women of Color. Political news is never fun and games, but when our country's President stoops to telling women of color (U.S. Congresswomen, no less) to "go back" to their "crime-infested countries", we've hit a new unacceptable low. This IS their country! Our country. All colors, all political beliefs, all religions, economic levels, education levels, abilities and interests. Our strength is in our diversity. As Preeti observed, when one woman is attacked, each of us is under attack.

Good people can agree to disagree politically (or in other areas) and still be friends. Or at least polite. We should not allow anyone to demean women! Bullying and hatred need to be called out and crushed whenever it is given voice or action by ANYONE.

It truly pierced my heart to hear those words. So, to calm myself, I began sewing International Sisters. First were the twins. They may have differing complexions, but they are definitely sisters. I decided to name them this month. But I'm not matching names to complexions because each one is a symbol of a sisterhood that goes beyond the color of their skin. Meet Malala and Rosa.

Here are Ilhan, Ruth, and Tammy D.

Florence and Maya.

Coretta and Harriet. Coretta's dress is from fabric sent to me by my friend Sally, and Harriet's dress is made of some fabric I brought back from Kenya last year.  Speaking of Kenya, it was one year ago this month that I was there, and the desire to return burns as strong as ever.

And finally, in a show of sisterly solidarity, here are all my International Sisters to date.

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The doctor appointment I referred to above was for Bruce. The cancer in his right forearm (just above the wrist) is back. The MRI shows that it's near where they did the tissue transplant 2 years ago. This tumor is deep, but the good news is (a) his chest scan was clean and no lymph nodes are involved, and (b) they can operate to remove it without taking his hand or forearm. The surgeon will take out the tumor and affected tissue, and unfortunately some ligaments. Bruce will lose the ability to open his hand more than halfway, but should still be able to, after therapy, use his fingers to type, play the guitar and perform other fine motor skills.

In general, we're optimistic. It helps that we've been through this before and know what to expect. Specifically, the initial surgery (or surgeries) will remove the offending tissue, while subsequent surgeries will attach his hand to his stomach area for tissue grafting, then detach it after 3 weeks once circulation and viability is established. So, we're looking at 3-4 surgeries over the next couple months, beginning August 7. Please keep a good thought for my dear Bruce in your heart.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Low-Hanging Fruit

The apricots are ON!! This is going to be an amazing year for apricots for us, providing we can get to the fruit. I’ve never seen the tree so laden, but it’s grown into such a large tree now. We have two ladders - one is an extension ladder - but even that allows access to only certain areas. You know, you have to think of safety first, so you can’t go setting the ladders up willy-nilly. And the roof is out because all the branches near the house were pruned last year. Bruce did buy a fruit-picking pole with basket, however, so we’re going to try that out today. It’s got to beat standing out there with our arms open, waiting for fruit to fall into them! LOL. Seriously, though, we have been collecting the fruit on the low-hanging branches. There are lots of those. Besides starting the apricot jam, dehydrated apricots, fruit leather and canned/frozen packing, we are planning a trip around the neighborhood today to share the bounty.

But let’s talk about scrappy sewing, shall we? In the last week I’ve quilted two lap quilts (more about those in a minute), so there aren’t as many finished pink blocks as I’d hoped there would be. But it’s all quilty progress, so I’m not complaining. I’m linking up to the weekly Rainbow Scrap Challenge Scrappy Saturday.

First finished this week were nine anvil blocks (8” finished size).

And then there were the 14 garlic knot blocks, also 8 inches finished size.

I’ve got everything cut out for some pink International Sisters blocks, at least a dozen 9-patch variation blocks, and lots of pink strings ready to sew. They’re all on the rota for the coming week. 

And I have a Rainbow Scrap finish to share! Crumbcakes is now done and dusted!!

Crumbcakes is one of the quilts I mentioned above that I quilted this week. The other belongs to Cousin Kim, and once she binds it, we’ll get a picture. Anyway, Crumbcakes has been in the works for a couple years. I started out by making 6.5-inch crumb blocks for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge in 2017. Then this year I began sewing those together in fours with thin black sashing to form a 13-inch (finished) Crumbcakes Block.

Crumbcakes measures 65x78”. And I used one of my favorite prints, which I’ve used before, for the back. It looks woven, doesn’t it?

Crumbcakes was Goal #1 on my Finish-Along list for the 3rd Quarter that I just posted a couple days ago HERE.

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And here are a few pictures from our garden this past week.

We’ve got some spaghetti squash that are getting big. We planted three times as many this year as we did last year because we can’t get enough spaghetti squash, and they store well for months and months.

Some of the big tomatoes are beginning to ripen ever so slowly, but I think the cherry tomatoes will probably beat them.

Although the spinach and lettuce are done, the lettuce is going strong. We’ve been sharing a lot of this, too!

This year we have some small pumpkins. I don’t remember the variety name, but they’re bigger than the Jack-be-Littles and are supposed to be good for eating.

The grape vines on the patio lattice are bearing fruit. We ripped one plant (of 5) out this spring and I've been keeping the remaining vines in check. That, along with a drastic pruning a couple falls ago, have resulted in a lot of fruit on the new second-year growth.

They won’t ripen until September or October, but they’re a really good size for this time of the year..

And the onion patch is thriving too. Since this picture, some of the tops have begun falling over and drying out, signaling that they can be picked. Of course, one can leave onions (and potatoes and carrots) in the ground until ready to use them. We’ll begin culling the onions this week as needed.

I don’t have a picture of the carrot patch, but we’ve been eating and sharing those too. We’re having main dish salads and/or stir-fry most nights for dinner. Later this week my DIL Kim and granddaughter Lauren are coming over to learn how to make freezer apricot jam. I’m looking forward to that. It was a year ago this week (and next) that we were all in Kenya together. Where has the time gone?

And speaking of time, the apricots and veggies are cutting into my housecleaning time, but oh well. I have my priorities. The housework can wait until the apricots are done, right? Thank goodness there aren’t any Housekeeping Police, hehe.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Quarter 3 2019 Finish-Along Goals

The last calendar quarter was rather a dud for me - I only finished three of the 10 quilts on my goal list. There was traveling, making curtains for my brother, garden work, a lot of quilting of Quilts for Kids charity quilts, but not much of my own quilting. To be sure, I sewed a lot of blue, orange and aqua scrappy blocks in April, May and June. So I did move future projects along quite a bit. But actual finishes were few. For the next quarter, garden notwithstanding, I plan to remedy that!

Here’s my list.

1.   Crumbcakes

This is a Rainbow Scrap Challenge (RSC) project that I’ve been working on for almost 2 years.

2.  On Ringo Lake

This one is a longshot to be finished because it’s always getting pushed farther down the line for other things. Frankly, I’m rather intimidated by the size and on point setting.

3.  Lemon-Lime

This will be a quilt for the daybed in our guest bedroom. I actually did 90% of the cutting last month.

4.   Firefighters.

I should call this one FirefLighters. This is a challenge for our Quilts for Kids group. We had lots of misprinted panels donated to our group. One square was printed with an extra “L” in the word Firefighter, making it FirefLighter. We all have a panel to sew up into a quilt, inserting a little pleat before quilting it to eliminate the extraneous “L”. 

If you’re curious, here is the offending misprint.

5.   Spokes

This will be an early quarter finish (hopefully); I’ve set it as my OMG (One Monthly Goal) for July. The flowers in the basket will need to be collaged over the orangey base. Then I’ll trim, quilt and bind it.

6.   Newport 

This is a quilt I’m planning for Cousin Kim to replace the one (of the same fabric) that she made for herself then gifted to her daughter. I am not yet set on the exact pattern.

7.   Alternate 9-Patch

I won these blocks in a Block Lotto drawing. Truthfully, I’m not crazy about them, so their priority is lower. It will be a donation quilt eventually.

8.  Pineapples Two

I made a pineapple quilt (think pieced pineapples) a couple years ago and want to make another one. I’ve already cut all the strips for the piecing and would love to finish this one for me this summer.

9.  Pink Donation Quilt

I have So.Many.Pink.Scraps!! So in addition to all the pink RSC blocks I’m sewing in July, I want to piece a simple 9-patch donation quilt for Quilts for Kids. You know, strike while the iron is hot! 

10.  Harambe Humanitarian African Sisters

I’m making lots of these blocks from Preeti’s International Sisters pattern. Eventually, they will be for several quilts. But one of them will be for me to keep and will take until next year to finish because I plan to sew ladies in all the rainbow colors (of skin tones and dresses). However, I’d like to finish at least one quilt in a limited color palette for Harambe Humanitarian this quarter. It will be a wall hanging, and the back (or front, as it will be two-sided) is an actual African fabric panel.

11.  Donation Quilt

I’ve had these fabrics pulled for over a year. Some are recent fabric lines, but one is an actual vintage piece (second from left) from an estate sale. 

12.  Gumdrops

This is a current RSC project of tumblers made of fabric scraps and selvages. In addition to what’s shown in this picture, I have a pink and a dark blue row sewn. Still left is purple, light blue, brown and possibly gray/black.

Although I would love to finish everything on this list this quarter, I know that real life will intervene. So, I’ll be happy if I can finish at least half. Fingers crossed...