Saturday, October 31, 2020

October Roundup

All in all, October has been a very good month. Out in the big wide world, Covid is still raging wildly. But here at home, things are great, if quiet. It was a pleasant fall week, with crisp blue skies by day and chilly temperatures in the evenings. We had our first hard frost, and things are looking brown and crispy. The fall colors aren’t intense this year, as happens when there is a lack of rain throughout the year. We’ve got our fingers crossed that the Farmer’s Almanac will be correct in its prediction of a wetter-than-usual winter for us. We need the moisture. But not in our lungs, thank you very much, just on the ground. We’re planning our last foray out in the yard today to put the patio cushions, decorations and furniture away. We’ve got a lot of leaves in the breezeway and patio, but no sense sweeping them now because the trees have more coming.

I’m linking up to Angela’s So Scrappy blog for Scrappy Saturday. We participants are sharing all of our yellow scrappy sewing for the month. This month concludes the color rotation for this year, although November and December are reserved for dark neutrals (black, gray, brown) and light neutrals (white, cream), if desired. Most of us will take the time over the next couple months to begin assembly of our rainbow blocks into quilts. If my calculations are correct, I have five rainbow quilts to assemble; Beachcomber, strings, selvage hexies, Windmills (Twin Sisters), and Scraptastic Stars. The Split Nines and International Sisters will carry over into 2021. 

I finished quilting and binding my quilt from yellow scraps and orphan blocks. Meet Creature from Bumblebee Acres! Thanks to Joy for the great name idea! This happy little creature quilt finished at 42x48.5”. It will go to Quilts for Kids. 

And speaking of Quilts for Kids, my friend Sandy who runs our local chapter says she’s overflowing with scraps. She’s sorting through them and texted me to come over in a few day to pick some up. I can hardly wait! All my little scrappy quilts go to QFK anyway, so it’s a win-win! Last Saturday we had a QFK scrappy workshop, but I didn’t feel comfortable enough (because of the pandemic) to stay and sew. However, I dropped off 10 quilts (three made and quilted by me and seven made by others and quilted/bound by me). I did stay long enough to learn the scrappy technique being taught, plus to pick up two kits to make a couple of those. And four quilts to be quilted.

Anyway, this new technique is something I want to share with you. Apparently, you begin with a nice repeating print, be it floral, or whatever. Then you cut 4.5” squares or whatever size you choose, depending on the size of the repeat (or portion thereof). Let me show you.

See the four sections of the four-patch above? They were cut from almost the same exact portion of the repeat, just at subsequent portions of the fabric. In the case of this print, there were several ways to lay it out, but the idea is to make it look kaleidoscope-ish. Or turn it into an interesting repeated pattern.

There is no right or wrong here - you just play with them until you get an effect you like. In the above block, I chose to put the main (visually-weighty) flowers out in the squares and bring a lesser grouping together at the center. I love those green swirls too. 

The blue flowers above all wanted to play together at the center. 

Once all the groups of four patches are sewn together, you add sashing and cornerstones, which we are asked by QFK to provide from our stashes. I also added an outer border because there was extra main fabric given to us for that purpose. I’ll admit that this squirrel bit me hard, and I couldn’t stop sewing until it was a flimsy! It measures 51x61”. 

If you click on the picture, you can enlarge it to see all the fun variations that this print provided.  I’ll probably set this one aside now for a few weeks before quilting it up, although I do plan to piece a backing for it this weekend.

Here is my usual collage of yellow RSC blocks made for October. There were 84 of them. (Not all are pictured).

I also finished up (quilting, binding), the second of four quilts that I’m making as Christmas gifts. This quilt was made from a panel and will be for my brother who is still crazy after all these years for old cars and trucks. 

As usual, my design board isn’t large enough, so the top part is pinned on and the bottom portion is hanging, which makes it look wonky. It isn’t. 

Mostly I quilted it in a simple stipple with black thread, but in the snowy parts I switched to white thread and just quilted lines or whatever I felt would work on the snow. This quilt finished at 56x65” before laundering. The backing is a tossed truck print with red, green and blue trucks that I’ve had for awhile and knew would be the perfect backing for a Christmas quilt for Steve. 

Now I’ve moved on to the third Christmas quilt. This next one will be for Bill, who is the husband of Paula (Tyrol quilt) and is my DIL’s dad. Bill likes to hunt, and they have a cabin up in the canyon not too far from Snowbird. When my DIL Kim saw these fabrics I’d pulled from my stash as a possibility, she said they were perfect for him. She also chose a simple rail pattern for the quilt.

This is how they’re looking together so far. I have sewn all 56 blocks, so the inner portion of the quilt will be set 7x8.  Then there will be a thin blue border (that solid blue) followed by an outer wide border of that navy medallion print. 

It should finish somewhere in the neighborhood of 78x88”. Since Bill is 6’4”, that’s a good size for a lap quilt.

But wait, there’s more! That’s all of my sewing for the week, but Cousin Kim finished up a baby quilt from a cute jelly roll of baby fabric I had sitting around.  Her son Nick has a friend who is having a baby, and this will go for him/her.

Click on the picture to enlarge it and see the cute prints with unicorns and swans. Kim did a super job and used just about every square inch of the jelly roll for the blocks, border and binding. She is the queen of frugal. This delightful quilt finished at 50.5 x 59.5”.  At Kim’s request, I quilted it with a simple loop design. 

So, do you remember that my plan was to shampoo the carpets of at least one room last week? Well .... it didn’t happen. But not for lack of trying. Oh no. It was a major cluster-foxtrot, if you know what I mean. I got the guest bedroom cleared and vacuumed. Then I got out the carpet cleaning appliance, the instructions (just to refresh my memory), and set to work. But nothing was happening. Everything seemed to run fine, but no water/soap was moving out or in. I checked the beater bar, the belt, cleaned all the parts, etc. Bruce even came and helped me disassemble some non-“user-serviceable” parts to check and clean. It just wouldn’t spray out the soap or suck it back up. We figured the pump must be kaput. After almost two wasted hours, I gave up. And I’ll have you know that I didn’t utter even one foul word through the entire process. So now I guess I’ll need to call in a professional to do it. Damn! (Oops!)

That’s it from here. Today, October 31, is also the anniversary of my mom’s passing (14 years), so she’ll be in my thoughts throughout the day. Tonight is trick-or-treating, but we’re turning off the lights and watching our usual movie, Young Frankenstein. We’ve already been around to the three neighborhood families of kids we love to deliver their treats to them in person.  

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Life in the Slow Lane

I guess that when you’re retired and are in the middle of suffering through a pandemic with the rest of the world, there’s no shame in admitting that one’s life is not exciting and eventful. We don’t have to get up and go to work (thankfully), nor do we have to worry about kids in school (although there is concern for the grandkids). We don’t have to travel, although we’d like to. But we’re not until things are safe again. So what does that leave? Errands - appointments, grocery shopping, and occasional “gotta-do’s”. The highlight of our week this past week was when Bruce got a new prosthetic attachment for his arm that allows him to hold a guitar pick and play his guitar or banjo. Honestly, I never thought I’d be so grateful to hear a banjo! We don’t have pictures yet , but we’ll take some. First, though, he is just modifying the end of the attachment so the pick-holder part is a little longer and doesn’t necessitate the use of so much shoulder action. 

A meme I found online says it all for us about 2020. If you’re offended, sorry/not sorry.

Also this week I did a lot of batch cooking because the fall nesting instinct hit hard. Over two mornings I made chicken tortilla casserole (enough for 4 meals), beef enchiladas (2 meals), chili (4 meals), baked apples (a panful of of those for a week of guilt-free evening snacking), minestrone soup (4 meals) and chicken tortilla soup (4 meals). I’ll do lasagna in a big IKEA roasting pan (makes 6 meals for us) this weekend, but the rest of the soups I’d planned (white chicken chili and split pea with ham) will have to wait until we free up some containers. That’ll probably be after Thanksgiving, when I’ll likely be doing some leftover turkey batch cooking. The truth is I’m a lazy cook. I like having meals on hand so that meal prep is often nothing more than popping something in the microwave. That leaves me more time to do something else.

My "something else" this week was to sew. I’m nearing the end of my regular Rainbow Scrap Challenge blocks for our Yellow October. Today I’m linking up, as usual, to Scrappy Saturday.

First I worked on getting some yellow International Sister blocks made. This first one was sent to me by my friend Preeti, the pattern originator. She had a gray background to it, which we both agreed didn’t work. So I picked it apart and inserted my usual Kona Snow.

Then I sewed up three Sisters from some of the African fabric I brought back a couple years ago from Kenya. These blocks will go into some of the Harambe Humanitarian fundraising wall hangings I’m making.

Then, because I have so many yellow and gold scraps, I sewed three more Sisters.

Here are all seven yellow Sisters together. I’m getting antsy to get all these sisters sewn together. I’m planning to spend some time early next quarter to just buckle down and get several of the wall hangings assembled in one huge push. 

Then I began working on my final RSC monthly project, the “Creature quilt” in yellow scraps, chunks and orphan blocks. This is where it stands for now.  Since I took the picture, I’ve actually sewn all the sections together and trimmed it. The bold yellow and black print scraps were sent to me by dear Nann, so they influenced the choice of black as the accent color. 

The name of the quilt was going to be Creature From the Golden Galaxy, but the black stripes and general colors really call for an apiary-themed name. Golden Hive? Golden Skep? Bumbling Creature With the Golden Honey? Yes, I know; I’m over-thinking it, especially since it’ll just be a donation quilt for Quilts for Kids. But ideas are welcomed! 

I also finished the flimsy of a Christmas panel quilt for my brother. The flimsy measures about 56x66”, a good size for a lap quilt for my brother, who is short. The backing is pieced, so it just needs to be basted, quilted and bound. That should happen this week before month-end, just like the yellow Creature quilt.

And I think that just about wraps it up for me this week. The furniture moving last weekend went well, and we were able to get all the old stuff donated and hauled away. For the coming week, Bruce has no appointments with the occupational therapist or the prosthetist. That means I don’t have to drive anywhere and will instead concentrate - maybe - on shampooing carpets. We have three rooms I want to do - two bedrooms and my studio, which is about the size of two bedrooms. Since we do have our own carpet cleaner, I can take it one room at a time at my own pace. But, like the batch cooking, I have to psych myself up to do it. So it may or may not happen this week. 

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Fall Cleaning

Did you feel the earth rumble or hear the angels singing the Hallelujah Chorus? This week I began my fall cleaning! And by Fall Cleaning, you’d think that would be an annual event, like, um, every fall or something. But you’d be wrong. This is actually more of a periodic purging, a dynamic decluttering or a kool KonMari kaper.  I think we can all be grateful at this moment that my alliterator has conked out. Mary Anne, I’m looking at you when I say this is all your fault! (wink)

Actually, we’re beginning The Official Downsizing of the Aged. Specifically, this weekend we’ll be getting rid of an old beat-up computer work station and a double bed. My two sons are coming over to do the actual work. My computer work station in our downstairs office will be replaced by an old desk that is currently situated in my sewing studio. The desk is in its fourth life now and is a beastly heavy solid maple thing. It was my son’s desk in its third life, my desk in its second life, and my mom’s desk in  its first life. Yeah, it’s almost a hundred years old. After the desk shuffle, there will be a bed shuffle upstairs. Our old double bed (mattress, box spring and frame) will join the battered work station outside where they will await re-homing by 1-800-Got-Junk. The guest room daybed (with pop-up trundle to make a double bed) will move into the master bedroom. That will leave the guest bedroom almost empty so I can shampoo the carpet and set up the kitties’ own lair. There are a couple old armchairs in the downstairs bedroom that may join them. I’m torn between getting rid of everything now or waiting until spring to have a monster huge yard sale. We’ll see...

But in between emptying drawers and removing a foot of dust off the old junk, I did manage to get some stitching done. I quilted two kids’ quilts for Quilts for kids, so they’ll join the five other donation quilts that I’ll be dropping off this morning before The Great Reshuffle begins. I made a serious dent in my yellow scraps this week sewing blocks and things for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge’s yellow October. 

First, here are 27 yellow string blocks (I had a lot of strings) at 6.5” unfinished size.

Then I began tackling the little scraps, sewing them into panels to make another scrap basket.

Here it is on the shelf with the yellow and orange fabrics and the orange scrap basket. 

When that was done, I made three Beachcomber blocks.

That completed all the blocks I need to assemble this Rainbow Scrap quilt top. It will be waiting its turn in  the assembly line, probably in December.  But here is a sampling of some of the blocks that represent all the colors.

Also, with Cousin Kim’s help, we got a better picture of Tyrol, the quilt I finished last week.

And just for a laugh, I have to share this picture. When I was clearing out the old clothing storage under the bed, I found my old majorette costume from high school. We were the Royal Oak Romans (Royal Oak High School, Covina, California, Class of ‘72) and our school colors were blue and gold. This was a halter style, backless and left virtually nothing to the imagination. 

And my Letterman’s (Letterwoman’s?) Sweater

These are going to the thrift store, because I know my kids will have no interest in them (and who can blame them?). They may just make a funny Halloween costume for someone...

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Tyrol Quilt Finished!

Hooray! I put the last stitches in the binding of Tyrol yesterday late afternoon. It was too late in the day to take any nice photos outdoors, but that will hopefully be something that Bruce and I can figure out today. I have to be the holder-upper while he photographs (since his arm surgery). But that’s OK if I can find a good place in the yard to photograph. In the meantime, though, these pictures taken in my studio will have to do.

Tyrol finished at 67” x 82”, before laundering. 

The focus fabric around which the color scheme was built, is an old Amy Butler print from her Lark fabric line some 6-8 years ago. The camera sees it as more blue than the jade/teal it really is.

For the quilting, which was done on my Bernina, I chose a loopy design that included three-petal leaf (or petal) motifs scattered throughout. The outer border was done in a double-loop vine. Nothing too fancy, but the curves were a nice contrast to the angles and points of the pieced flowers. It took me three sessions of quilting on three different afternoons to get it done. 

The backing is a two-toned orange print that my DIL Kim and I selected together. The binding is the same jade focus print. 

I washed the quilt after these pictures were taken, so any subsequent pictures from today will show the quilt as more soft and crinkly. 

Tyrol will go to Paula, who is my DIL’s mom. It was a pleasure to sew this as a Christmas present for her, because we all adore her (me, Bruce, and my son Ryan - she’s his MIL). 

Next I’ll be sewing a few borders on this Christmas truck panel quilt for my brother. I’m keeping it really simple with no additional outer blocks. I’ll just add plain borders to bring it up to a good size, then back it with a closely-matching print of tossed trucks.. Badda-bing, Badda-boom. Done before you know it. 

I’m hoping to show this quilt as a finish next week so I can get on to the next Christas quilt, which will be for Paula’s husband Bill (AKA my son Ryan’s father-in-law). 

But there was plenty of Rainbow Scrap sewing this past week. My yellow scraps had really accumulated because I sewed a lot of quilts with yellow and/or gold in them over the last year. I’m linking to Scrappy Saturday at Angela’s So Scrappy blog. 

16 Twin Sisters blocks at 6.5” (unfinished) each. 

After sewing them, I had 113 out of the 120 I needed to make a quilt measuring 60x72”. So I just pulled some mixed-color fabric chunks and sewed the remaining 7 blocks. 

The block on the top left was made from four little remnant strips I had from a border I’d sewn for Quilts for Kids. So all those blocks are done! Now they'll join their brethren - oops, I guess they’ll be joining their “sisters” since they are called Twin Sisters blocks - to be stitched into a quilt top after the Christmas obligations are sewn.

And then I moved on to the Split Nine blocks. They, too, are a 6.5” size, and I sewed 18 of them.

Of these Split Nines, I’ve sewn 104 out of the minimum 120 I’ll need. However, I may need to sew more depending on how I decide to set them. At any rate, I started these in March, so I still have a couple colors to add to them next year, most notably orange. I’ll probably also add a few light greens. We’ll see what the setting design dictates.

On a personal note, there’s not much new here. The weather is still warm (too warm for autumn), but the leaves are changing. Bruce is still going weekly to the occupational therapist and learning more fine motor skills with his bio-mechanical arm and hook. I had a mammogram that came back fine, but now I have to schedule my annual physical. Ugh. We are digging up the last of the garden - the tomatoes - today. Actually, Bruce is doing that and I’m bringing in yard decorations and the remaining flower pots. Many of my roses are blooming again so I’ll cut some and make an indoor bouquet. Have a great week!

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Pedal to the Metal

It’s been a busy week of sewing for me as I ramp up to finish at least four good-sized quilts by mid-December. I also finished sewing up all my remaining selvages, which kinda-sorta just happened. I had gone through all my selvages and added a large bag of them to Cynthia Brunz’s selvage giveaway for last month’s Quilty Orphan Adoption. (And speaking of that, I drew another name - Karen T. - for the other quilt pieces I was giving away. We got all the particulars arranged and they’re on their way to her now). 

But getting back to the selvages, I sewed up all the yellow and gold ones to make 10 half hexagon blocks. The leftovers that were too narrow were sewn into columns of varying widths. I just tried to keep them as wide as possible for now.  That was my start on the Rainbow Scrap Challenge color of the month for October. I’m linking up to Scrappy Saturday at Angela’s blog

After that, I thought I would tackle the brown selvages since there weren’t too many. But many of them were really long, so it made 15 half hexies and a couple pieced columns.

On Monday, I decided to keep going with the gray selvages. Seven half hexies and two little columns.

Well, that hardly took any time, so it was on to my black selvages.  8 half hexies and a small column.

Where there are black selvages, there are most certainly white and black selvages. Yeah. A LOT of white and black selvages.....  Yawn. These were pretty boring. But wow did they ever clear out my selvage storage! The result was 12 half hexies and two little pieced columns.  I think that did it for Monday.

But on Tuesday, all I had left were the multi-colored selvages.  By golly, I was going to empty that selvage bin if it killed me.  It didn’t. I made THIS MANY:

OK, OK, I’ll count them.... 37. And the smaller bits sewn into the three columns below.

If you heard me whooping and hollering on Tuesday, it was because I was either doing the No More Selvages Happy Dance or I was watching the Un-Presidential “Debate”.  No, I’m not going any further with that. 

The selvages are all gone. But it will be 2021 before I start planning and figuring out how to sew them all together. My guess is that I have enough for at least two quilts - and three or more if I combine them with regular fabric. Stay tuned for that.

On Wednesday, I realized I had enough scraps in my yellow bin to make two Scraptastic Star blocks, so I did just that. Here’s the yellow one:

And here’s the gold one.

That brings me up to the 12 blocks I needed for a complete quilt. Here they are slapped up on the design wall. They will be sewn together after all the Christmas obligations are done. The blocks aren’t trimmed up yet - I prefer to wait until just before sewing them together. 

My personal goal for September was to finish the Tyrol quilt top, which I accomplished on the 30th. Whew! I forgot to link up to the One Monthly Goal linky party, but I still accomplished my goal, which is the point. Here’s the Tyrol top.

I just LOVE it! 

Yesterday I sewed up the backing for Tyrol. My first and primary order of business today is to get everything pressed, layered and basted. The hardest part for me will be narrowing down then deciding on a quilting design (and practicing it on a practice piece before committing to the quilt). I’m going to try to force myself to stretch a bit with this. Wish me luck. I don’t want to have to come back next week and report that I chickened out and did my default loops or stipple!