Saturday, November 30, 2019

Last Week of November

Did you have a nice Thanksgiving (for those of you here in the US)? We were with extended family on Bruce's side. There were 21 of us, and it was a blast. It snowed lightly on Thursday, but kindly held back until yesterday to dump several inches on us. But it's beautiful, and it's the perfect time of year, so we welcome it!  

As for my hands/carpal tunnel surgery, I got the stitches removed from both wrists on Wednesday. It's been 2 weeks now, and I'm pretty much fully healed incision-wise. My hands aren't numb any longer, except a small part on 2 fingertips, and the doctor says that should go away in the next few months. I am bearing good weight and pressure on them now, and have resumed all my normal activities without problems.  I even plan to pin baste three quilts this weekend with the help of Cousin Kim.

Speaking of weight, I've been actively working the Weight Watchers plan again after just see-sawing around a few-pound weight range over the last 18 months. Actually, I'd gained back about 9 of the 35 pounds I lost a couple years ago. But now 8 of those extra pounds are gone, and I was mindful of my Thanksgiving eating. I even planned for a piece of pumpkin pie and enjoyed that! Now it's time to get serious and tackle the final 25-35 pounds over the first half of 2020. I do plan to make (and partake of some) almond biscotti during the Christmas holiday season as well as some Kahlua and eggnog (lite). All doable while still losing, if I'm careful. 

But you're here for the sewing, so let's get to that.  Here's the red string star quilt I've been working. I showed a few blocks last week. This week I completed them all - it is so fun to stitch these that I just couldn't stop! This is one of the flimsies (quilt tops) that I'll be basting this weekend.

And a close-up of a a smaller area. I ran out of the solid red, so used a similar red with dots to fill in. I love how it makes the stars look more dimensional.  To keep on top of these multi-colored strings (a lot of which I get from quilting and trimming the quilts I do for Quilts for Kids, I may do a background star - which is 4 blocks - of the Rainbow Scrap color of the month in 2020, and then just use the multi-colored strings around them. I think that might be fun!

This helped make a dent in my string scraps, but I have a whole tote bag of low-volume strings that I want to make into some sort of string quilt. That idea will be put off until 2020, though, as I have some Christmas projects (zip pouches) projects that beckon.

And I'm currently working on this project for Cousin Kim for Christmas (she doesn't read my blog).

It was a layer cake (10" squares) of a line called Newport that she and I both fell in love with and bought. She made her squares into a quilt for herself, but her daughter Sarah loved it so much that Kim gave it to her. So I'm using my Newport fabric to make a quilt for Kim. The prints are big and colorful, so I wanted to find a pattern that would allow the prints to shine through without being chopped up too much. I'll sew on it today in hopes of finishing off the top. Then I can hide it while Kim is here sewing on Sunday.

Before we put the cat's play tree back into the guest bedroom after the painting that we had done, it was sitting out in our upstairs hall. Alfie "re-discovered" what fun it was to play on it while us mere mortals walked past. He could roll around, hide, swipe playfully at us - what great fun!

And finally, Bruce put up the tree. It's tiny, because we didn't know how our respective hands would be this year after all our surgeries, and we didn't want to try to haul up containers and bins of things to decorate. Anyway. Bruce says it's The Best Tree Ever. The Best Tree He's Ever Had in His Whole Life! He picked it out at the grocery store, bought little tiny LED lights, raided the Christmas decorations for the tiny ornaments (including a bird from the 1950's), and added a crocheted star at the top. The lights are battery operated. You'd think he was a 10-year old with an early Christmas present.

Now all we have to do is take down all the autumn decorations and beef up the the Christmas decor with a few choice decorations. That's on the agenda for today. But, that tree! (wink)

Linking up to Scrappy Saturday for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Whining and Sewing

It’s been a different sort of week here at Chez Kizerian. I’ve felt as though I’ve been walking through water; everything is slower and more resistant than usual. Relatively speaking, carpal tunnel surgery (even on both hands simultaneously) is minor in the grand scheme of things. But it gets so damn frustrating when you can’t do the things you want. Bruce has to pour my coffee when the pot is full and he has to cut our apples at snack time. Those are only a couple examples out of dozens that I could name. Two days ago I reached to pull open the door of the dishwasher without thinking, and the sharp pain in my right palm nearly brought me to my knees. I think maybe I should’ve taken the pain meds and ibuprofen a few days longer than I did (which was 4 days). Finally I did take one last night and slept almost 11 hours, which I needed. But the boring days pass. I’ve done a little sewing, lots of reading and Netflix watching. My stitches come out on Wednesday and at least I'll be able to drive as I gradually ease back into bearing weight and pressure on my hands.

So, enough of my whining. Really, all is well and I shouldn’t be complaining. This, too, shall pass. The silver linings are that I don’t have to fix the turkey for Thanksgiving and my hands aren't numb anymore!

We hired some painters to come in this week and they painted the doors, trim and ceiling in our guest bedroom. The previous owners had an eighties gray and maroon color scheme in that room with duck hunting wallpaper. I steamed off the wallpaper in the first year we lived here (15 years ago) and painted the room yellow. But I had left the gray ceiling and baseboards, etc. Painting all the trim white has been on my to-do list for ages. Finally I realized that we can afford to hire it out and save wear and tear on the ol’ body parts at the same time. It looks beautiful!

Studio wall repainted
While they were here, we had them paint one wall of my studio where the white paint was peeling off the old dark paneling. Now that is fresh and clean too. It did necessitate emptying out all my fabric storage (Cousin Kim helped) and moving some drawers and things into another room and then back again (Bruce did that). But that is all put back together now. In the process, I rearranged things and re-discovered some old fabric friends.

But despite everything else going on (or not going on, depending on how you look at it), I did get some sewing in. Cousin Kim trimmed up the pink and green quilt for me, and I was able to bind it. It’s a finish, and this my OMG - One Monthly Goal - for November. I’m linking  up to Patty's November OMG finish link-up party.

The back is print that came from this line of fabric. It's a sweet little floral.

I’m calling it Dogwoods for Karen, as this quilt top (minus the border) was purchased at that huge estate fabric sale I attended a few weeks ago. The deceased was a quilter named Karen, so I thought it would be nice to finish it in her honor. The flowers are dogwoods. The quilt finished at 49x61" and will be donated to Quilts for Kids.

Here's a  closeup of some of the quilting - and a bonus; cat hairs! No quilt is complete without them. But don't worry, we wash all the quilts before donating them.

Dogwoods for Karen was Goal #4 on my 4th Quarter Finish-Along list, which you can see HERE.

I’ve also worked on some string blocks for another future donation quilt. SQUIRREL!! I have several more pressing projects to work on for Christmas gifts, to say nothing of at least 3 Rainbow Scrap Challenge quilts to finish, but they were all buried under the piles of fabric for days while we had the painting done. So the string project sort of floated to the top of the list. They’re easy and fun and they scratched my sewing itch. Here are 16 blocks  (6.5" each, unfinished) slapped up on the design board.

Finally, I finished off the three pillowcases for some of the grandkids. I have five other finished ones from earlier in the year, so all the littles will get one as a stocking stuffer.

Linking up to Rainbow Scrap Challenge.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Quick Update

I had hoped to do a quick, pre-surgery update post on my quilting projects before going in for carpal tunnel surgery (both hands) on Thursday. But Wednesday was sewing day here with Cousin Kim, Bonnae and new friend Shanna. It was a busy, chatty day and by the time dinner rolled around, it was all I could do to get the final preparations done for Bruce to handle things around here post-surgery.

The carpal tunnel surgery was routine and we were home by 11:00 a.m.  Having gotten to the surgical center at O'dark thirty, it wasn't surprising that I had a piece of toast when we got home and then took a 3-hour nap. I've been following doctors orders by keeping my hands iced and elevated, and the surgical numbness is mostly gone and there has been no swelling. There's a bit of pain (more of a dull ache), but it's a piece of cake compared to what the pre-surgery pain was. We took off the gauze and ace wraps yesterday afternoon, and under them on both hands are the water-tight bandages covering the wrist where the arthroscopic incisions were made. I can shower with these with no problem. I go back the day before Thanksgiving to have the stitches out. In the meantime, I can't lift anything heavier  than a couple pounds. I think I'll be able to start sewing this weekend, but using the rotary cutter is probably out for a week or two.

So, let me show you what I got accomplished between last week's post and Wednesday, before surgery.

Not much to see here. This simple blue, navy and green quilt is for the grand-kittens. It's pinned on the design board over another quilt, so just ignore that pink. I will be sewing up a backing for this later in the month and then probably spray basting and quilting it. At least, that's the plan.

Next up are four blocks I made for this month's Covered in Love drive.

And I managed to add a border to this quilt top that I found at the estate sale last month. Then I basted and quilted it. I'll have to have Cousin Kim trim it for me when she's over on Sunday!

I quilted it with light pink thread in a blowsy floral design. 

Once the batting is trimmed away and the backing is trimmed down to a 1" border around it, I can sew the all-in-one binding over and attach a label. This will be my OMG (One Monthly Goal) for November, so it's looking likely that it'll be done easily by month-end.

Finally, I stitched up my blocks for Step #3 of the Seeing Stars sew-along at Butterfly Threads Quilting. This month's blocks (8 for me) were simple hourglass 6" blocks.

And here are all the blocks together so far. We will have larger blocks coming, and rectangular blocks of flying geese and checkerboards coming as well. Those lighter greens don't photograph well, but they do look nicer in real life.

I've got several easy sewing projects lined up for this week, beginning in a day or two when I start feeling like myself again. Yesterday and today were dedicated solely to rest and recovery and being lazy; napping, watching movies, reading, taking care of my hands, and getting lots of loving from Bruce and the kitties. Darla has been by my side consistently for two days.

I'll link up to Scrappy Saturday when I get back from my Block of the Month Club on Saturday morning.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

The Kitchen Sink

It's a finish - my second and final (for this year) quilt from my dark neutral scraps. It was my goal to get this one done by the weekend, and I squeaked by, finishing it yesterday afternoon.

I deliberated (too long) on a name for this quilt, which is totally ridiculous since it's always been intended as a donation quilt. So here is "Kitchen Sink", a quilt of leftover bits and pieces from my browns, tans, grays and blacks.

As usual, without a quilt holder I pinned up the top part on my design wall and let the bottom fall wonkily. In real life, it measures a consistent 50x60".  While designing this quilt, I couldn't decide on which block or blocks I wanted to make, or what size. Finally, after listing several of my favorite blocks (that were simple - no Burgoyne Surrounded blocks here!), I divided them up into those that worked best with a 6" finished size (9-patch, rails, Friendship Stars, etc.) and those that worked best at 8" finished size (Double 4-patch, Puss in the Corner and the Windmills). And since 8 six-inch blocks is the same width as 6 eight-inch blocks, 48" became the width I'd use (before sashing).

Then I went through my scraps and matched up their sizes to the block components necessary. The largest pieces went into the Snowball blocks (6.5"), then I used my 4.5" pieces in the Puss in the Corner blocks, the double 4-patches, and on down the line. I tried to mix gray, black, brown and beige into every row.  Every couple rows or so got a 1.5" black sashing strip to prevent it all looking like mush.

I wanted to do custom quilting on each row, then came to my senses when I remembered that this is just a donation quilt. Unfortunately, I had the not-so-brilliant idea to practice my swirls, which are badly in need of practice. It took me three sessions (of an hour or two each) to quilt it. What was I thinking? Anyway, I learned that the faster I went with the swirls, the better they looked. Not that that's saying much. There are still boatloads of wobbles.

And I am SO over variegated thread. That is, I'm over buying it; I still have a couple spools-worth to use up. I used the variegated on the top and finished three partial spools of various gray threads on the back.

This is a picture of (most of) the back. I had one extra 9-patch and some other blocks from leftover half-square triangles, so I pieced those into the center column.

This side backing fabric is a piece I bought about 18 months ago on sale.  I adore it, both the print and the colors. It was always intended to be a backing for my scrappy dark neutrals, but I didn't buy enough.

Here's a close-up of the blocks pieced into the back with the Quilts for Kids label.

Where the yummy graphic fabric came up short, I inserted this linen-look cotton-poly blend fabric. About a year ago, when daughter Stacy and her family moved into their new house, she asked me to hem some curtains for her.  This was the what I cut off and saved. The texture really shows off the quilting.

So, because I used so many scraps and patterns on the front, leftover blocks and curtain cut-offs on the back, several partial spools of thread..... you probably can understand why I'm calling it Kitchen Sink.

Kitchen Sink was not only a Rainbow Scrap Challenge project (and I'm linking up to Scrappy Saturday), but also Goal #12 on my 4th Quarter Finish-along list, which you can see here. It was listed there as "Winter Patchwork".

This coming week is going to be interesting. On Tuesday I'm getting my "annual" (it seems) cortisone shot in my right shoulder. And then Thursday, well that's the big day - carpal tunnel surgery in both hands. Actually, I'm not expecting it to be bad. Yes, they knock you out, but it's an arthroscopic procedure done by making a half-inch incision at the wrist. There will be bandages, and I do have wrist braces if necessary. I hope to be sewing again (not pin basting) by the weekend. We'll see. In the meantime, my sewing goals prior to surgery are:

1.   Add outer border to OMG (One Monthly Goal) quilt top, then pin baste it. Maybe quilt and bind it if there's time.
2.   Make my block (and an extra one) for my Block-of-the-Month (BOM) class this month
3.   Make the 8 hourglass blocks for the Seeing Stars sew-along at Butterfly Threads Quilting.
4.   Make progress on the kitty quilt for my grand kittens, Carl and Xbox. They are about 5 months old now. Carl is gravely ill, and we are hoping that there is a cure. More tests this week.

My hope is to do a mid-week post with progress pictures.

And to close on a bright note, here are five Evening Sunset blocks that I made for the November Block Lotto. That link leads you to the introductory post and tutorial for these blocks. They're 6.5" (unfinished).

Saturday, November 2, 2019

November Plans and October Recap

Does time ever slow down? October flew by like a witch on a broom. I guess in that analogy, I'm the witch. Certainly I felt like one yesterday.

I had a mid-afternoon appointment yesterday with my retina doctor, whom I hadn't seen in 4 years. It just seemed like the prudent thing to do - get my eye health checked (after past macular hole surgeries) before going to get new eyeglasses. Summary of visit: interminable wait, rushed appointment with Dr. B.  Not my doctor B, but Dr. B JUNIOR. He was knowledgeable and perfectly competent. But rushed. And I drove home and spent the rest of the evening with dilated eyes. That ruled out any sewing for the rest of the day. And apparently I've got a cataract starting in my right eye that's not bad enough to remove yet. But there's no point in getting new glasses for now. That's OK, I guess, because I have my carpal tunnel surgery later this month before Thanksgiving. Both hands. So I've got 2-3 weeks of mad quilt sewing and finishing lined up before then.

In my last post, I showed my October One Monthly Goal (OMG) completed. This is the Rainbow Anvil quilt, which was a Rainbow Scrap Challenge project for this year. You can click back to read more about it, but I've added a pic above for those who may not have seen it.

My other October finishes, both Rainbow Scrap projects, were Gumdrops and Stringing in the Rain.


And that brings us up to the present and what I have planned for November.

First up and currently on the design wall is the second quilt I'm making from my dark neutral scraps. I let the size of my scraps dictate the size and type of blocks made. That was a lot of fun. I ended up with six rows of six inch blocks (8 of each pattern) and 3 rows of 8" blocks (6 of each pattern) that will measure 48" across by 60" down, before sashing. This is the layout of the first 5 rows. I will be adding 1.5" black strips to separate rows here and there and to outline the quilt on the tops and sides. Eventual finished size should be 50x66".

Below the lower black strip in the picture above, I will be sewing rows that look like these samples below.  My design board is more horizontal than vertical, so I put these few up as a sewing order reference.

And this is the current work in process on the design board. All the blocks are made, but obviously not all are pinned up. My goal is to get this one finished up, including quilting and binding, this week.

After that I have plans for three more finishes (fingers crossed). One is to make a kitty quilt (probably a baby-sized quilt) for my two grand kittens, Carl and Xbox. Here is the fabric pull for that. It will be a simple quilt of rows and large blocks.

Next is a pillowcase for my grandson G, who is six years old and totally into Bob Ross. (What six-year-old even knows who Bob Ross is?) We think it's hilarious! So, I found and ordered some Bob Ross fabric from Spoonflower, and will make G a Bob Ross pillowcase for a stocking stuffer gift.

What's funny is that G is a flaming redhead, so I plan to play up the orange (his favorite color) and teal in this print for the pillowcase cuff and accent band.

And then I have this quilt top that I bought at that estate sale a few weeks ago. I need to add a border, then I can sandwich, quilt and bind it. This is my OMG for November - my stated One Monthly Goal for the challenge link-up over at Elm Street Quilts. Depending on when my carpal tunnel surgery is (I will know the date by Tuesday), I will likely move this one up to the top of my To-Do list after I finish the neutral scrappy quilt. I'm 10/10 with my OMG goals this year, and I want to keep my perfect record, surgery notwithstanding!

So, as the Holiday season begins, are you planning to pick up steam or slow down the pace? I'm rather happy that I'll be forced to slow it down for awhile. No Thanksgiving dinner to prepare - we'll buy a turkey and roast it eventually. We have an invitation to visit extended family for Thanksgiving. And no overdone Christmas decorations! I don't think we (meaning Bruce) will even get out the regular Christmas tree this year. He did mention something about buying a small tabletop tree. So I told him very sweetly that was a great idea; he just needed to figure out where to put it and how to decorate it. Translation: no tree this year, haha!

Linking up to