Saturday, December 26, 2020

My 2020 Quilty Year in Review

Last week Angela, the leader of our online group Rainbow Scrap Challenge, asked us to share our 2020 RSC finishes for this final Scrappy Saturday link-up of the year. This year I followed along and made my selected blocks in the assigned color of the month. Some of those blocks have been sewn into quilts for this post, and others need more blocks and will carry over into 2021. However, there are some rainbow blocks from previous years that got made into finished quilts this year. 

In addition to the regular rainbow (all-color) quilts, I had so many scraps and orphan (leftover) blocks that I made a single-color scrappy quilt almost every month with that month’s assigned color. I called them “Creature” quilts, because like Frankenstein, they were made up of spare parts! The Creature Quilts names started out fairly straightforward. But as time went on, friends and fellow bloggers got into the spirit and helped come up with some whimsical and silly names. 

So, let’s get started.

Creature From the Green Lagoon, January

Creature From the Orange Grove, February

Creature From the Aqua Covid Lab, March (that’s when the novel coronavirus hit!)

There was no April Creature Quilt, because the color for April was light/bright blue, and my intent was to combine them with the dark blue scraps into one quilt later on.

Creature From the Mossy Mountain, May

Creature From the Bubblegum Factory, June

Creature From the Blue Precinct, July

For this next quilt, I didn’t have enough purple scraps to do an entire quilt. So I combined the purples with more orange scraps. I had wanted to work out some kind of volcano theme, but it just wouldn’t come together. Then I found the small piece of animal fabric, and that solved the problem.

Creature From the Sunset Savannah, August

Creature With the Ruby Shades, September.
The hollow blocks in the four corners rather reminded me of Elton John-style glasses, so that’s where the name came from.

Creature From Bumblebee Acres, October

November and December were for working with our neutral scraps (white and lights, black, browns and grays). Additionally, it was time to assemble the year’s rainbow blocks, if not already done, into quilts. 

Creature From the Foggy Lagoon (grays plus red for accent), November

Creature From the Haunted Pumpkin Patch (grays with orange accents), December

Creature With No Name, December

There were also three other traditional rainbow quilts that I completed in 2020.

Nine P.M. (9 Patch Madness), April

Garlic Breath, May

Scraptastic Stars, December

And there you have it - the fifteen RSC quilts I made this year. all of them except two (9PM and Garlic Breath) were donation quilts.


Now I’ve begun some early work on January’s color, which will be pink. Also, one of my goals is to draw two project names from my list of quilts-to-be-made from the fabric themes of the scraps, kits and yardage I’ve been gifted with for Quilts For Kids.

The two January projects I’ll be working on (in addition to my RSC blocks, which I’ll introduce next week) are:  
                    Pink and Yellow Unicorn Cats

I’m so glad to have a pink project to work on simultaneously with pink scraps month. In fact, I’m wondering if I should maybe plan to do that moving forward.  We’ll see.  But let’s take a look at what we’ve got on tap for January.

Obviously, Alfie needed to get in on the act. He would NOT leave me alone while I sewed this week. He’s a very needy boy, so I had to stop several times just to hug and kiss and pet him. He is, after all, the boss.

So, here’s a better shot of these fabrics. Most are WOF (width of fabric) by anywhere from 7” to a half yard. It took awhile, but I came up with a plan, and will have enough fabric from these scraps to do a quilt that’s approximately 42x50”, including the back and binding. 

Here’s a sneak peek at some of the first blocks.

And then, here’s the Alphabet fabric, which was a piece from Angie. It’s the red one with the block letter in the center. The piece next to it with the bright dots on white is also a chunk she sent. I’ve pulled some possible pieces to go with it, as well as three yellow and red four-patches which were in the Quilts for Kids scraps. I’ll begin working on this project when the pink cats quilt is done.

In between preparing this post and working on getting January projects out the gate, I also assembled my Zipper blocks into a quilt top.

It’ll be another week or two before this one is sandwiched. Cousin Kim and I have our regular sewing Sundays, but this next one will be spent doing a lot of Show and Tell in addition to our usual sewing. Kim’s son-in-law works for Grace Quilting Company, and she got a lot of wonderful quilting accessories (not a long- or mid-arm machine) for Christmas. Woo-hoo!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, or whatever Holiday you celebrate. Ours was quiet, and enjoyable. Now we’re just about to the end of the year. I hate New Year’s Eve these days because of all the noise (scared pets) and fireworks - I’ve never really understood the appeal of loud, fiery things. Give me a good round of Auld Lang Syne anytime!

Saturday, December 19, 2020

And a Partridge in a Pear Tree

 Four Quilts Finished

Three Family Members Infected With Covid

Two Old Folks Healthy and Calm

And a Partridge in a Pear Tree

Now that my Christmas 2020 song is sung, I guess I should explain it. The quilts will be shown and explained later in this post. Bruce and I are the healthy Old Folks. We’ve done our annual physicals and dentist appointments and passed all of them just fine. I did have to have a crown on a lower molar re-done this week, but it’s all good. I go back to the doctor on the 29th to have a mole removed from my back, but that’s a minor thing. At least we don’t have Covid. I wish I could say that about my son Ryan, daughter-in-law Kim and their daughter Lauren (16). 

Kim works in healthcare - she’s a physical therapy assistant at a rehab center. In mid-November she tested positive (two tests) for Covid. She stayed home for 10 days, enduring mostly aches and tiredness. My son Ryan (negative test) quarantined in the basement, granddaughter Lauren (negative test) went to stay with extended family, and son Easton stayed at USU in Logan where he is a senior. 

Once Kim tested negative twice (after about 10 days), she returned to work. She worked two weeks, getting tested regularly as they do for all the employees and patients and continued to test negative until this week. Apparently two patients were released from a hospital to the rehab center and they tested positive for Covid. Before long, several of the staff, including Kim tested positive as well. It’s the second bout of Covid for Kim and also for an administrator of the rehab center. This time, Ryan and Lauren tested positive too. They have all lost their taste and sense of smell and are experiencing body aches and lethargy. Ryan says that when the symptoms were the worst for him (a couple days during this week),  every injury he’d ever had from baseball, hockey, bike riding, etc. flared up and ached like crazy. He can laugh about it now, but it was wild at the time. Lauren had the worst case of the three. They are all on the mend now, just laying around and taking it easy. So, you CAN get Covid twice. And being younger isn’t a guarantee that your case will be mild. We are very grateful and relieved that they are all recovering.

So let’s move on to something positive (that isn’t Covid), no pun intended. Cousin Kim (not to be confused with DIL Kim) helped me baste Ryan’s quilt last weekend, and I basted the other three donation quilt tops that I had lined up to finish. 

First up, Gumby and Pokey. This is the cut of Gumby fabric that Sally sent me. I extended it it by using large-ish scraps from the Quilts for Kids scrap boxes, forcing myself to make do with what was on hand. The “make do” part is important, because who wants to cut up perfectly-good yardage (making more scraps in the process) when the aim is to turn boxes of existing scraps into something useful? The results are usually not glorious, but certainly warm and serviceable. And those horizontal green strips ARE straight and parallel, but this picture is like an optical illusion!

Gumby and Pokey measures 40x47.5” and was quilted with a largish meandering stipple in light blue thread. The backing is a single piece of fabric I had on hand from Connecting Threads.

The second finish this week was one that I made using my brown scraps as I tried to follow along with the (RSC) Rainbow Scrap Challenge’s monthly challenge to use dark neutral scraps. In addition to the browns, I pulled smallish cuts of teal/turquoise and an ombre gold. I love this little quilt, and the picture doesn’t do justice to its warmth and vibrancy.

This cute scrappy quilt finished at 42x50” and was quilted with serpentine X’s in each section. The backing is an older architectural-style print I had on hand. So, I’m considering this an RSC finish and am linking up to Scrappy Saturday at Angela’s blog. 

The third scrappy quilt that will go to Quilts for Kids is this one I showed last week as just a flimsy (top only). It measures 42x48” 

For the backing I used some of this chambray blue backing that I bought in bulk from Connecting Threads. I think I have enough, if memory serves, for three more kid quilts. 

So, those were quick, easy finishes. Then there was this big monster quilt for my son Ryan. I’m calling it Arahorn, after a place name in his novel. More about that in the new year. 

Arahorn finished at 73x80”. It was made from a fabric line called Imperial Elegance (also from Connecting Threads, do you sense a pattern here?). It’s still available there, and I may buy more because some of the prints are just to die for.... but I digress. Anyway, I did add some other bits to it because the quilt grew beyond my original plan. Raise your hand if that’s ever happened to you... 

The picture below shows the backing and some of the quilted front. It washed up beautifully.

And that completes my quilt show for this week, this month and this year. In 2020, being largely stranded at home, I finished 46 quilts. You can check them all out, if you’re curious, at the page link under the header entitled ... oddly enough ... “2020 Quilts”. 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 
Now that brings me to what I’m planning, quilt-wise, for 2021. I’ll definitely be participating again with Angela and the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. In fact, I can’t wait to get started in January! I have blocks planned for strings/strips, small scraps/orts, 2.5” squares, 1,5” pieces, and also for larger chunks. Additionally, I have at least one carryover block type from this year to finish up in a couple colors (split nines) and several RSC tops to sew into quilts. I’ll select one of those “almost done” quilts every month to finish up. 

But if you’re a regular reader, you know I have been inundated with scraps from Quilts for Kids and by fabric donations from friends Sally and Angie. My goal in 2021 is to use those scraps and yardages to make donation quilts. So, last weekend I sat down with a pad and pencil and went through All.The.Fabric. I made a list of scrap fabric themes (and a couple quilt kits) on hand. All the small pieces were sorted and “filed” by color in the respective scrap color bins. Strips 2.5” and wider were gathered into another pile by color, as were the chunks and small cuts of yardage in single (or tone-on tone) yardages. Finally, every theme was bagged and labeled.  I’m ready to sew as of January 1. 

So, the list above has now been cut up into individual pieces and I’ll draw two themes out every month to work on. I’m hoping that process will keep it all fresh and interesting as I move through the various projects. Those RSC and other projects in the lower right will be scheduled separately. So, I’m either very organized or very crazy. Or both!

In closing this too-long post, I want to thank you all for joining me here on the blog this year. I so appreciate all the comments and conversations we share. Being able to connect like this has helped me (and you too, I hope) survive and even thrive in this crazy pandemic year. You are all special online friends, some of whom are new this year and others whom I’ve known for a decade or two. And still others of you are real-life friends and honorary family! I love you all. Merry Christmas to you and yours. Stay safe and healthy!

Saturday, December 12, 2020

The Most Wonderful Squirrel of the Year

The title of this post was going to be The Most Wonderful TIME of the year, because with winter in full swing and Christmas and year-end bearing down (and shopping mostly done), I have lots of time and determination to play in my sewing studio for hours and hours each day. My time is spent quilting this, basting that, sorting these scraps, sewing those strings, all to Christmas songs and other favorite music. The days are speeding by. Anyway, last week I said that my squirrels (off-on-a-tangent projects) were having squirrels. This week I think I’ve even ushered in another whole generation of squirrels (grand-squirrels?). We’ll get to that momentarily.

First, I have an actual finish to show you - one of my Rainbow Scrap Challenge projects for 2020 is a finish!! I’ll be sharing this on Scrappy Saturday. Here is Scraptastic Stars.

Scraptastic Stars finished at 48.5x64.5”. It’s quilted with small, viney loops and is labeled and ready for Quilts for Kids. 

I had hoped to get a couple more quilts tops layered together this week, but that didn’t happen. I did, however, finish sewing the quilt top for my son Ryan and got the backing prepped, too. Kim and I will baste it on Sunday.

It has been trimmed since this picture. I sure wish the colors photographed more accurately. Hopefully once it’s finished, we can get a good outdoor picture of it. But it’s huge - about about 75 x 85”, so I don’t know how one person can hold it up. I’ll worry about that later, though.

As usual (lately), I spent time working on string blocks. This week I made 27 of the multi-colored string blocks (below). I also sewed some special string blocks for my grand-squirrel project, and then focused on using up my brown strings for the RSC dark neutrals month. Here are the string blocks.

There are 19 brown string blocks, which will be added to my strings blocks for future use as alternate blocks in scrappy Quilts For Kids (QFK) projects. 

Ok, NOW we can talk about the grand-squirrel project. So, as if I didn’t have enough ongoing must-finish and should-finish projects, I started another project this week. I was itching to pare down that brown scrap drawer, and ran across some wonderful color inspiration photos online.  So I sketched out some scrap-friendly blocks in a simple row design and hunted my scraps and stash for the appropriate colors. 

First up was making 14 of these 6.5” strip blocks, each with a central (more or less) teal strip surrounded by some old brown and blue polka dot strips. Then the rest of the block was filled in with other warm brown strips. 

After those, I used scraps to make rail fence blocks, snowballs, nine-patches, checkerboards and friendship star (variation) blocks. Alfie was Supervisor of the Day, and dropped by while I was cutting half-square triangles for the friendship stars. 

I guess he wasn’t sure if things were up to standard, so he had to peer closer...

And then, apparently not satisfaied with the way I was doing it, decided to cut them himself....

So, together we got them cut and I got them sewn. Here is the brown (and blue and molten gold) quilt so far. There will be a final gold strip across the top once it’s all sewn together.  

As it appears above, it’s just half sewn and half pinned. I think the confetti dots ombre gold fabric gives it a real lit-from-within look, and I love it. At least, it’s not bad for a “brown” quilt! It should finish at about 42x50”. I’ll show a finished picture next week. What do you think? 

And finally, a picture of Bruce with his NEW guitar-playing prosthetic. The one I showed last month was his “quick-and-dirty” (homemade) version while the prosthetist was finalizing this real carbon fiber arm. Bruce helped in the design of the arm because he was a medical engineer who worked for Symbion and Robert Jarvik on the artificial heart and the Utah artificial arm.  Who would’ve thought that his experience would end up coming in handy for himself? Anyway, the playing arm is lighter and gives Bruce much easier control. He can even pick notes, not just strum. He’ll never be a Bela Fleck, but he is really amazing!!

Have a great week!

Saturday, December 5, 2020

December in the Studio

How are you coming with your Christmas preparations? I can’t seem to get in gear. We did take down and pack away all our autumn things, now condensed into one 18-gallon orange and black tote bin. However, I didn’t have the energy to pull out all the Christmas bins. We must have 6-7 of those, two just for ornaments. My plan is to go through them and get them reduced down to two, maybe three bins, but I’m just not feeling it. Maybe one day next week when I’ll have more time. We’ve finished most of our Christmas shopping which, frankly, is just gift cards this year. I hope to get the out-of-state ones mailed off next week. I have my annual physical on Monday and then we have dentist appointments on Wednesday morning. Other than that, my week belongs to me! 

I sewed about 25 more string blocks, but as I said last week, if you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all. But what I can show you is the flimsy I sewed together in about a half hour on a whim one afternoon. Even my squirrel projects are having squirrels now...

The string blocks are 6”, so this quilt top is roughly 42x48”. It’ll go into the queue for basting/sandwiching. This week I did baste Scraptastic Stars, but I haven’t quilted it yet. It’ll be a finish for next week. I also finished the Gumby quilt top, and it will be basted this week along with the strings above. Pictures of that next week, too.

But what have I been working on? I did finish this little quilt for Quilts for Kids, that I made from some of my gray (dark neutral) scraps. This is the second quilt from the gray bin, in keeping with the use of dark neutrals and finishing up for the last couple months of the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. I really like how this quilt turned out. It measures about 48x56”. It’s pinned up (not evenly) on my design board since I don’t have a two-armed quilt holder-upper anymore, LOL.

I added orange scraps to the grays for a little zing. I think they’re spread out well enough to provide some interest. The quilting is just a simple stipple.

I made some “modified” zipper blocks (above) to fit the 6” size needed in the far right column. The top two sets of gray/orange blocks in the checkerboard column were orphan blocks from QFK and pretty much set the color scheme for the quilt. 

I really hope to tackle my brown and black scraps over the next couple months (yes, even into 2021) to whittle those down. Still waiting for inspiration to strike there, though.

In the meantime, I started on the final quilt I want to finish as a Christmas gift. This is for my son Ryan.  The columns are sewn and pinned up on the design board. The camera makes them all look so bright in this photo, but in real life they’re more toned down and very rich-looking.  The first three columns (to the first black strip) are sewn together. 

Here's a closeup of some of the fabrics. Due to the large size, I had to add other fabrics to the originally-intended fabrics purchased. You may notice some of the Dan Morris prints (the gold to the left of the black strip and the blue/brown to the right of it) making an appearance. I tried to keep the piecing random and color-balanced. However, there are three places where like prints abut (or nearly abut) each other. Oh well. That’s part of being random, isn’t it?

I want to give a shout out to Angie, who sent me a box of fabric cuts that she no longer sees herself using. The box contained lots of kid-themed fabrics and will be perfect to use for Quilts for Kids. Opening the box was an amazing early Christmas gift. Thanks, Angie, for your generosity!

I can hardly wait to tuck into these fabrics!!

Alfie and Darla are waiting patiently for me to hang the Christmas stocking with care. They’ve finally taken to their beds (Alfie’s on the left is heated). I took their old kitty quilt and cut it in half and bound the exposed edge. So, they’re both content now.




Have a good week, everyone! Stay safe and healthy.