Friday, July 31, 2020

Finished - OMG for July

I finished my OMG (One Monthly Goal) for July a couple days ago, but I’ve been waiting for a good time to get an outdoors photo of it. We had an early morning appointment today at the occupational therapist for Bruce, so since we were ready early, we took advantage of the early morning softer light and grabbed a few photos. I’m the quilt holder-upper and Bruce snapped the pictures.  Here is Pineapples II, or as I prefer to call it, Piña . 

This is the second month I’ve been working on this quilt becauseI didn’t finish it up in June. So, I’ll be linking up to the goal finishing link-up at Patty’s blog, Elm Street Quilts

Piña  finished at 62 x 82.5”.  Except for the background (Kona White), the pineapples and their tops all came from scraps.  I made one almost identical to this back in 2017, which you can see here, but my granddaughter Lauren claimed it. So, three years later, I have finally finished another one for me. It still has a wild pink pineapple in it, but in a different spot. 

Here’s the back, which is a Kate Spain fabric from several years ago. I had enough to use it for the entire backing, with just one horizontal seam. The same fabric was used for the binding.

The print shows up better in the closeups below.   I quilted a basic grid in the pineapples themselves, then a wavy line with circles around the white border.

In order to make the pineapples “dance” instead of march along in rows, I set them in a basic half-drop pattern. I had planned to try some ruler work in the six resulting white spacer squares (one for each column), but realized as I was quilting the outside border that there was no separation between the white border and the squares. Oops. Normally that wouldn’t have been an issue, but I had already quilted the first X in one of the squares without taking the border wavy line into consideration.

So, I did what I normally do - just fly by the seat of my pants (and it’s an ample seat, I must say) and quilt whatever I wanted to practice on. So there were some squirrels swirls ... 

And some random flourishes. And a few other things. Each square was different. It’s all good - I’m the one who’ll have to look at them and tsk tsk myself for not marking them first.

This will go into the laundry now, where I’m sure it’ll shrink a couple inches each way and get nice and crinkly soft. 

I’ll be back tomorrow with my Saturday post and monthly recap. 

Saturday, July 25, 2020

The Cat Days of Summer

We don’t do Dog Days of Summer here at Chez Kizerian because we have cats. Or, more accurately, they have us. Alfalfa and Darla, our dear Little Rascals, run a tight ship around here. In fact, I’m probably due for a reprimand for posting a blurry picture of Darla. Sorry ‘bout that!

So, we just stay indoors where it’s cool. Every other morning we venture out to the vegetable garden to pick what’s ripe. We just picked the last of the lettuce. Now we’re into yellow squash, green beans and carrots. Lots of carrots. Family and neighbors are getting our overages, although come fall we will find a cold place to store the remaining carrots and potatoes. For now, we are eating mainly stir-fry dinners and main dish salads. Once the tomatoes ripen, we’ll add (turkey) BLTs to the rotation. Tonight we’re going to Ryan’s house (my older son) to visit with the family and pawn off lots of carrots there, LOL. He’s making ham fried rice for dinner with a recipe he got from his Uncle Jeff (my former BIL) while visiting him last summer in Hawaii.  Ryan has turned into a very good cook and does most of the meal preparation for his family. It’s just him, Kim and Lauren, who is going into her junior year of high school. Their son Easton is attending college at Utah State U in Logan. When Easton graduates next year, he’s been officially accepted into the US Navy and their nuclear engineering program (on submarines). He’s excited. We’re proud, but glad it’s him and not us! LOL

Ok, so we’ve covered cats, vegetables and family, so let’s move on to the quilty progress, shall we? I’ll be linking up to Scrappy Saturday at Angela’s blog to share the dark blue things I’ve sewn this week.

I guess I should start off by updating last week’s lamentations about my sewing machine acting up while trying to quilt a friend’s table runner.  I had 95% of the quilting on the tablerunner completed when my machine stopped cooperating, skipping stitches. I cleaned it, put in a new needle, etc etc. After trying everything I could think of, I finally increased the needle size from a 12 to a 14. All the problems went away for the last two motifs I quilted. I don’t understand why everything was just fine until the finish line was in sight, but at least it’s done. Now the size 12 needle is back in the machine, and she is purring away. 

So, this week, I tackled my blue strings. I love sewing strings, which is probably why I make myself finish most of my other monthly blocks before playing with them. This month’s yield was 20 dark blue string blocks (6.5” unfinished).

Since I had plenty of African fabric in dark blues, I was able to sew up six more International Sisters blocks for the various wallhangings I’m making with these blocks. In fact, I’ll be putting together another 2-sided wall hanging in August for Harambe Humanitarian fundraising purposes. It will be the third of about 7-8 that I’ll eventually make. 

Sorry the picture seems so dark. I’m afraid if I increase the exposure any more, it will wash it out. My screens aren’t always accurate, and my iPhone and its operator (me, LOL) aren’t the best photographers. But you get the idea.

With those finished, I was able to move my remaining blue blocks from the Block Orphanage, as well as some interesting scraps, onto the design board.  Here we have the beginnings of the July blue Creature quilt.  I’m combining all my blues, light, bright and dark, into one quilt. 

I want to finish this by month end (one week!), so it will be pedal to the metal in the studio this week.  My first priority, however, is to finish Pineapples 2, which is my OMG (One Monthly Goal) for July. The quilt top is assembled, basted and in the process of being quilted. Once I’m done with the ditch quilting on it, It’ll probably do a cross-hatch in the pineapple squares and some other as-yet-undecided treatment in the larger white spacer squares.

Oh, and I do have a small finish to share this week. This is just a cute little panel quilt that I added borders to, then quilted up for Quilts for Kids. We were gifted several hundred panels at the end of last year, and we’re hoping to get through them to make donation quilts for kids in hospitals this year. Simple finishes are the name of the game.

The wavy bottom is because only the top portion is pinned to the design board; the last few inches just hang down. It’s square, I promise. My former quilt holder-upper is no longer available to hold up quilts since his arm was amputated. That means the “glamour” shots are anything but. But I digress.....  The quilt (unnamed) measures 38x53” and once again, will go to Quilts for Kids.

Let’s see, what else? Umm ... Oh! Zipper blocks!!  How could I forget?  Ten more this week.

I think I’m up to about 57 completed now. The finished size of the eventual quilt is undecided, but it will either be 60x72 (requiring 80 blocks) or 66x81” (99 blocks). I’m leaning toward the larger size because these are so fun. We’ll see.

One evening this week I got sidetracked by a request from Pattern Jam. I have a couple patterns there that are pretty popular. Now that Pattern Jam is under new ownership, they are trying to fix some of the back end (behind the scenes) issues, one of which was a faulty algorithm for calculating the fabric cutting requirements and directions for quilts.  So I had a request from the management to provide those for this quilt pattern for several people who had asked.

There are two blocks in this quilt, and each one appears 24 times for a total of 48 blocks. The faulty cutting instructions called for cutting 120 (REALLY??) 6.5” white background squares when only 24 were needed. And then it gave some yardage requirements for “quarter square triangles”. Wha’???? There ARE NO QST’s in this! So, I redid the yardage requirements and gave some basic directions. 

Now I want to go back and create a smaller version of this quilt based on 2.5” squares instead of the 3.5” squares of this version. Either way, it would be a fun and easy quilt to do for a patriotic quilt, or a Christmas quilt in different colors. Do you ever play with Pattern Jam? It’s a free website, and I’ve used it a lot to help me play with design. Plus there is a lot of eye candy and ideas for quilt layouts in their main “public” stream. 

That’s about it from here. Time to go quilt some pineapples! Have a great week, friends.

Saturday, July 18, 2020


Since the pandemic hit in March, Bruce and I have a new thing going in the evening. Get your mind out of the gutter! The last one of us to put on our pajamas is the “slacker”. Yeah, I know it’s backwards thinking.  But at the time, there was no one to see and nowhere to go, so neither one of us wanted to be the slacker and keep our daytime clothes on when we could vegetate around the house in our comfy jammies. We took it to extremes, of course. There was one morning when I changed from my sleeping pajamas into my daytime pajamas and Bruce was the slacker for an entire day!

Now things are, well, not normal, but at least the weather is nice enough to go out in, and the grocery stores and other things are open. The new normal. We do venture out to doctor visits (still a lot of them for Bruce, but his quarterly chest CT scan was clear, so that is great news) and necessary errands. Sometimes we’re both slackers until early evening. 

Well, this week I felt like a real slacker with my sewing. Usually on Sundays I make myself a list of creative things to accomplish for the following week. I got just a bit more than half of it done. My first goal was to assemble the Pineapple quilt top and get it layered and basted.  I managed to get the top sewn, but that’s it.

Although I didn’t get it layered or basted, I did get the back sewn together too. I had a 5-yard piece of a pineapple print fabric from a Kate Spain older line, so one seam to sew and that was ready. Now, the first item on my list for the upcoming week is to finally get the top basted and then to quilt and bind it. Finishing it is my One Monthly Goal (OMG) for July. It’s looking as though I’ll make that goal well before month end. 

My second goal for the past week was to make a scrap basket out of the Rainbow Scrap Challenge color of the month for July, which is dark blue. I did get that done, completing it with blues from light to dark.

But I sewed sides to the bottom upside down, so the handle (the blue piece with orange flowers) is low down instead of higher up. Oh well. It works fine either way. The insides are a combination of the floral print and a squirrel print that Sally sent me. 

Speaking of Sally, her boss Molly Kitten wrote to me this week, threatening to obtain a Restraining Order on me. Apparently Molly had it “on so-so-authority” (her words) that I was encouraging her Staff (that would be Sally) to drive an hour and a half away (at least three hours round trip) to attend an estate sale of a late quilter and peruse the fabric. That absence would, of course, constitute Kitten Neglect. So, I guess either I have to start chastising Sally, or Sally is going to have to stop blabbing relating our conversations to her cat boss.

My third weekly goal was to sew up 8-10 new Zipper blocks. I got those done, of course, because making them is the most fun I have in any given week. (Don’t judge; there’s a pandemic going on!)

And in order to suck up to appease Molly Kitten, I made two blocks with fabric containing cats. 

I also got the borders sewn onto this panel quilt, even if I didn’t get it basted, which was my fourth goal. *Sigh*  So this project moves forward to the coming week for completion.

Besides all the errand-running and appointments this week, I had some work sewing to do. My son and daughter-in-law asked me to hem pants for them, so that took a couple hours. And then a friend asked me to quilt a table runner for her. Normally, that would not be a problem. However, Bernadette (my machine) is not loving the spray basting she used. At least I hope that’s the issue. It started skipping stitches when there were 2 floral motifs left to quilt. I tried re-threading the top and bobbin threads (which are good brands I always use), cleaned the machine, changed the needle (same size and brand I always use), and then tried the old standby - turning the machine off and then on again, LOL. I got one of the final two motifs quilted and then it started acting up again. I’ve sewn and unpicked the last motif three times. Then I sewed it the fourth time, and it skipped stitches again. So, my machine is in time out while I contemplate what to do next. I’ll start fresh today, unpicking and trying that last dang motif yet again. 

This coming week I’ll baste and quilt the two flimsies above, sew my dark blue strings into string blocks and make 8-10 more zipper blocks. If Bernadette cooperates, that is. And I may even be sewing while in my pajamas because we have no appointments next week. And if you’re in the neighborhood, do stop by and pick up some lettuce, spinach or peas from the garden!

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Summer is Zipping By

I’m glad July is a long month, because this summer is zipping by. Remember how S.L.O.W. the days seemed in March and April, when we were first quarantined for the Covid-19 pandemic? It felt like April was five years long. That was probably because it was not only a marked change in routine for most of us, but also because the spring weather (at least in the Northern Hemisphere) was cold, cool, rainy, rinse and repeat. Indoor weather. Now with summer in full swing, at least we can change up our routines by sitting or working or visiting outdoors in the mornings and evenings. And if family or friends drop by, we can visit with proper social distancing in the sheltered green shade of the patio and grape vines with the fan blowing cool air on us. It really has been... dare I say?.... nice!  

I did get a lot of sewing time in this week, which was really enjoyable. Although I do get out one or two mornings a week to keep on top of the garden chores, the great majority of my free time is spent sewing. Our local quilt shop is resuming our Block of the Month meetings this weekend, but I don’t feel comfortable sitting in a room with a lot of other people, even if they’re masked and numbers are controlled. There are only 2 months left of this BOM class, and I’ll just do my thing to finish off the sampler blocks we were making. They’re going to end up being 2 quilts that’ll go to charity, so it’s all good. 

So, I’ll be linking up with Rainbow Scrap Challenge this week (and perhaps a couple others if I can remember!!) to share my scrap progress for July’s work with medium and dark blues.

First up, I made these 12 Twin Sisters blocks.

Next up was a dark blue Scraptastic Star block. This makes 7 of the 12 I need for a quilt top.

And then there were the Split Nines. I made 18 of those. I’m going to have to sit down and come up with a plan for these. 

And here is the ZIP in the zipping-by of summer: my weekly Zipper blocks. These first five are done in the dark blues of the month’s color.  I know I keep saying how fun these are to make, but it’s true! 

And then I made five more in random colors and fabric. Now, there’s a bit of a story behind the top two blocks in the picture below. My friend Sally sent me some (as I call it) Va-Va-Voom pinup girl fabric as a joke to see what I’d do with it. Well, naturally I had to make zipper blocks from it. I made two of them - one is a Rated G block of hearts and nondescript parts. The other is more, shall we say, salacious. Hahahaha! One will go on the front of the quilt (where I’m trying to make no two blocks out of the same fabric) and one will go on the back. But which will be which?

This zipper quilt will be a keeper, so it could go either way. I’m leaning toward the risqué one on the front, to remind me of Sally’s mischievousness. 

And that subject reminds me of the conversation Sally and I had this week. When Bruce has long appointments at the prosthetist, Sally and I will sometimes chat on the phone to pass the time. This week we were coming up with arm attachment ideas for his robo-arm-in-the-making. It started off with a blender attachment and devolved hilariously from there.

When I told Bruce about it that evening, he laughed and came up with one or two on his own. Curiously, and I may have mentioned this before, Bruce used to work (and remains friends with) a man named Jon Price. Jon used to live and work in Hollywood, where he worked on various movies and actually built the hands for Edward Scissorhands. The hands were designed by Stan Winston, Jon’s boss, but Jon had the creative license to actually build them. Naturally, the credit all goes to Stan Winston, but Jon Curtis Price is at least mentioned in the movie credits. But once again, I digress...

I also managed to piece all the parts for a scrappy tote bin. That will get sewn up this weekend sometime.

And here are my pineapple blocks. I sewed two per day and have 22 out of the 24 completed!

In the coming week, my goal is to get the last two blocks made, sew the blocks into a flimsy (top), and get it layered and basted. I also have a panel top for Quilts for Kids that I’ll get basted, since I tend to baste in batches these day. So those two quilts, along with the scrappy blue tote and more Zipper blocks, should keep me hopping this next week. If I have time, I’ll also tackle my blue strings and begin sewing those into string blocks. Hopefully then I can start thinking about my final blue scrappy project, the Creature Quilt. 

I’m late posting this morning because I was out harvesting lettuce, spinach and peas this morning. I also took a lot of garden pictures and will include a few here to show how much things are just exploding in the garden beds! 



Bruce and the Beanstalks

Spinach and lettuce (what’s left, lol)

Well, I had several more pictures I was going to post, but Blogger will not upload them. I’ve tried restarting my computer and still no luck. So, I’ll sign off for now. If Blogger will deign to cooperate in a day or two, I’ll try again. Have a nice week, friends!

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Happy Independence Day!

For those of you living in the USA,  Happy Independence Day! Things are rather subdued at our house and around the country due to the pandemic, although some overzealous neighbors have been shooting off fireworks for a couple nights now. i’m pretty sure it will continue tonight as well. I’ve never understood, even as a kid, what the attraction is to lighting things on fire and blowing things up. Fireworks scare the hell out of me, and I know that at least 90% of cats and dogs agree. (Alfalfa is among the 10% of cats who enjoy fireworks, though. He sits in the window and watches as long as there are no thunderous bangs). I do enjoy a nice fireworks show put on by professionals at a city event or a ballgame, but I’ve seen too many fires (houses, trash cans, hills, etc) from neighborhood fireworks to think they are anything but pure lunacy (my blog, my opinion). Perhaps someday we’ll convert to more peaceful patriotic celebrations and give up the “bombs bursting in air”. 

For the month of July, we are focusing on dark blue for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. I was hoping for yellow, since I’m working on a mostly-yellow quilt anyway, but oh well. Yellow’s time will come.  I did get some blue scraps sewn this week, namely my selvage half hexies. Eighteen of them.

And then I finished off my dark blue selvages by stitching them together into columns for a future coin quilt. I’ve got quite a collection of these going now...

My One Monthly Goal (OMG) for June was to finish my pineapple quilt. For the first time in eighteen months, I did not make my goal. Progress was made, however, and I’m going to call it as my OMG for July. A totally finished pineapple quilt before month-end. It will get done! Here are 9 of the 10 blocks I’ve sewn so far. I’ll need a total of 24. I’m linking up to the OMG goal-setting post for July at Elm Street Quilts

I’m aiming to sew 2 pineapples per day. If I can stick to that, then I’ll be ready to begin assembling the quilt top by this time next week. other than sewing blue blocks for the RSC, I shouldn’t have too many distractions. Except those zipper blocks that Sally got me hooked on. I made another 18 of them this week. They are soooo much fun to sew. Quick and easy. Like Sally mentioned, it takes longer to select and cut out the fabrics than it does to sew them up.

Our vegetable garden seems to be well established now and growing nicely. We had another spate of cool weather earlier in the week and I took advantage of a cool, cloudy morning to go out and snap some pictures. 

Below is the carrot bed with a decorative metal carrot stake for size reference. Later in the summer, that stake will barely be visible. Beyond the carrot bed to the right is the spaghetti squash bed. You can also see the back wall and the pollinator habitat in the background. Oops - and an old seat that we sometimes sit on with some pumpkins growing beyond the carrot bed.

We planted one crookneck squash plant this year, and it’s already going gangbusters. You can see the blossoms giving ‘way to the squash.

This is the onion bed with the tip of my shoe for reference.  

Next up are the beans. To their left you can see an Armenian cucumber struggling with its huge cage and beyond that a tomato. Way in the back is the bed with the peas.

Next up is the bed of spinach (left), which we’re already harvesting and giving away and the lettuce (right).

This is a better view of the peas. Bruce went a little crazy with the twine, but he’s like that sometimes. The rhubarb on the left is about done for the year. I’ve frozen a lot of wonderful strawberry-rhubarb compote this year to enjoy during the winter.

That about wraps it up for this week. I’ll be linking up to Scrappy Saturday this morning and sewing away the afternoon today. We have no plans for the day, and for this year that’s just fine by us!