Saturday, April 24, 2021

Spring Cleaning in the Studio

The countdown to new downstairs carpeting is at three days. On Tuesday the installers will be here to begin laying new gray/taupe carpeting in my studio, the office, stairs down to the basement, and the small stairs from the office down to Bruce’s laBORatory. We (meaning me) have cleaned out the studio except my sewing machines and the furniture that the installers will move into a spare bedroom. It’s desolate! I have been pacing myself, doing a bit each day to avoid overdoing the physical stuff (as I tend to do when I work outside in the garden). Bruce helped yesterday to drag two heavy totes of stuff down to his laBORatory, which is where the office furniture will be stored come Tuesday. All that’s left is moving the computer stuff, storing the seven desk drawers and their contents, and moving my machines and cutting mat. We’ll do all that on Monday. 

In looking at the picture above, I guess I need to move my iron and ironing board too. Easy peasy. The picture below is the left part of the same wall pictured above. I’ll move that cart of my neutral scraps on Monday, too. But you can see the old, yucky carpet. I don’t know if you can click to see, but there are rust spots in the carpet. I used to have an old iron-based Victorian dress form that stood in that corner. Before the exterior drain was fixed outside that door (it was actually the former door), we had a flood in that area and the iron rusted into the carpet. Never could get it out. 

But by this time next week I hope to have it all carpeted and all my stuff returned to normal. Fingers crossed. They said it would take two days - one to lay the carpet in the rooms, and the other to do the coving (which requires special woven borders) and the light cutouts on the stairs. 

In the meantime, I did get a bit of stitching done. I quilted a Halloween quilt that Cousin Kim assembled. I don’t have a picture of it yet because she hasn’t added the binding yet. Anyway, I plan to show the last several quilts that Kim has finished in an upcoming blog post - she’s been on a finishing tear these last three months. 

But Purple Posies did get basted, quilted and bound. Yay! In fact, it’s coming with me today (along with about 17-18 other quilts) to our Quilts for Kids workshop this morning.  The weather looks threatening in this picture, but it had been beautiful all day and then clouded up about a half hour before this picture. We hurried out to get a picture (I also wanted a picture of the blossoms on the tree before the storm hit) before it began raining. Only it didn’t rain. A half hour after this picture, it was bright and sunny again. Pffffft......

Purple Posies is a donation quilt that I quilted with little loops, flowers and hooks. It turned out cute, but I didn’t get a photo of the back, which is just the solid lavender with a strip of the leftover floral fabric to add width. It finished at 50x60”.

Last week I was having tension issues with my machine. I had tried adjusting everything and cleaning and oiling as per usual. Nothing had helped. But my friend Pat suggested using canned air to blow out the tension discs. I hadn’t thought of that. Once I did that, the issues disappeared! Who knew? I made a quilt sandwich and played with my walking foot, free motion foot - just playing and speeding, etc. Perfecto! YAY!! Thanks, Pat. That precipitated my quilting frenzy this week!

Since this is the last Saturday of April, I’m linking up with Scrappy Saturday at the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. Here are the light blue scrappy blocks that I finished this month.

I didn’t get a picture of all the string blocks I made, so the picture in the lower left of one block represents the 18 that I made and inserted in one of the light blue quilts for this month. Eighty blocks total, a good showing.  Next week I’ll show all the quilts for the month. I’m hoping I’ll have time to get my studio back together and finish two more quilts before month end.

Which two, you ask? (You did ask, didn’t you?) Why, Rainbow Scrap quilts. I decided that my Twin Sisters (aka Windmills, to me) would be better if made into two separate kid-sized quilts. 

The first one included most of the darks and expressly forbade any pink, although some of those reds and oranges look pink in the picture. It will be a gender neutral quilt. These blocks finish at 6”, so this flimsy measures 42x48”.

The second flimsy contains the pinks and more of the floral and pastel blocks, again measuring 42x48”.

I had a piece of multi-colored polka-dot backing fabric in my stash that split perfectly in half to make the backing for these two tops.

Finally, last weekend we had dinner with son Ryan and his wife Kim, plus our two grands Lauren (17) and Easton (22) at their place. Ryan is becoming an excellent cook/chef! He reads and watches a lot of cooking shows and experiments with new recipes. And the new gadgets (special grills, meat grinders, etc) attest to that. That evening we had birria tacos (I hadn’t heard of them before this) and they were to die for. OMG, my mouth waters just thinking of them. My DIL Kim wisely lets him do the cooking! Anyway, we celebrated the March birthdays (me and Ryan) and Lauren’s April birthday. Easton is graduating from Utah State University in two weeks, and we will attend his (virtual) graduation. In June we’ll have a real, in-person family gathering/send-off for him as he heads out to New Hampshire to begin naval officer school and their nuclear engineering program. 

Life is good. 

Saturday, April 17, 2021

April Showers Bring New Carpet

Hi! How was your week? We were sure busy here at Chez Kizerian. We’ve been talking about starting up some of the home improvements we’ve put off over the last year or more because of Covid. It’s true that we have an eye toward downsizing in the next couple years, but these improvements are things we want now for ourselves even if only for a couple years. Plus we need to maintain the home and put its best foot forward when the time to sell does come.  

When we moved in, most of the house was carpeted in a fairly nice (quality and condition-wise) grayish-green carpet. Think eighties dark seafoam green.  It’s been replaced by hardwood floors upstairs. However, the stairs going down to the basement level, my studio (a former family room), and our office (pic at right) still have the fugly green carpet. The other spare bedroom downstairs was carpeted and painted (and new window and window coverings installed) about 5 years ago. While we love our hardwood upstairs, we really need the insulating qualities of carpet (and a thick pad) in the basement. The old green carpet has seen two basement floods (we have since fixed the drains indoors and outside that caused those issues) and decades of traffic. 

So, on Monday we went to Home Depot and selected new carpet. They came to measure on Wednesday, and we had a quote on Thursday. We went in and paid for it on Thursday and then got a call from the installers that same day wanting to install it next week. Wait, WHAT?!? I’ve got whiplash from the speed! (Two years ago when we ordered new doors for my studio it took them over five months to deliver and install). I pushed back the installation a week until Tuesday the 27th, which will give me time to move all my fabric and sh*stuff into the spare bedroom. The installers will move the furniture out (tables and bookcases and a desk in the office) and put them back. Needless to say, I have had a lot of work (1) decluttering the spare bedroom to make way for things to be temporarily moved in and (2) starting to move books, fabric and all the sewing paraphernalia from the studio into the bedroom.

But for now I’m still sewing away! A week from today is our next Quilts for Kids workshop, and I will have somewhere between 16-18 quilts to take to them, depending on what I can finish up in the next week. Three of the quilts were made and donated by my friend Terri, and the rest are made by me from scraps. 

I finished up some Rainbow Scrap Challenge blocks for Blue April and am linking up to the Scrappy Saturday link-up party.  First, 24 “chips” at 4.5” square:

And then, since I still had so many scraps, I decided to start sewing 6.5” string blocks in the RSC color of the month plus white-with-black strings. I made 9 of those. No plan for these yet.

And then I used up a pile of 2.5” squares to sew these 18 4-patch blocks. They’ll go to live in the Parts Department for now until called upon to give themselves in service of a Future Scrappy Quilt. 

But there was more Light Blue nagging me to sew it. This little flimsy got sandwiched up and quilted with curls and loops. Sea Scraps is a little donation quilt for Quilts for Kids that measures 40x45”. 

At that point I decided to change lanes and finish up the four-patch posy quilt whose blocks I showed last month. The blocks are all sewn together with sashing and cornerstones. Then I pieced a backing of mostly the solid lavender fabric with a leftover chunk of the floral to make it wide enough. Now that it’s been sandwiched, I can get to the quilting over the next few days. 

I’ll keep the quilting simple, as I always do for donation quilts. Besides, my Bernina is having some tension issues and I may have to take it in for servicing. I’ve tried adjusting the tension myself and have switched threads and needles sizes, but nothing is correcting the issue. It’s the first time in the almost nine years that I’ve had this machine that I’m going to have to take it in (other than its annual servicing) for a mechanical issue. 

In the meantime, I’m going to start on sewing these Twisted Twin Sisters blocks together. This is about half of the 120 blocks, and I’m just sewing them into pairs for now.

I still can’t decide if I want to make it into one quilt that would finish at 60x72”, or divide the blocks up and add borders or something so I could get 2 donation quilts from them.  Stay tuned.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Return Journey to Normal

There’s quite a way to go to get back to “normal” pre-Covid days. I’m not even sure what will constitute the New Normal, but at least positive changes are afoot. Now that we’re vaccinated and have safely navigated our post-vac waiting period - and now that spring is here! - our lives have taken noticeable turns toward freedom of movement outside the house. If we need to run an errand, go shopping or whatever, we do. We don our masks and avoid clusters of people, and we do wash our hands thoroughly when we get home. But I’ve actually been to the mall once, and we had son Shane and DGD London over for pizza one night, then we visited Wheeler Farm and visited the animals, walked and hung out for a couple hours. We had planned to go out to dinner one night, but I was feeling lousy on Thursday and Bruce was under the weather yesterday, so we haven’t done that yet. I’ve been struggling with arthritis and my Covid weight gain, so am back to dieting (*sigh*). With a little luck we can resume regular WW (formerly Weight Watchers) meetings and weigh-ins this summer. The virtual meetings just aren’t for me. 

But enough of that. What keeps me occupied almost every afternoon is sewing. There are always errands and appointments and housework for the mornings, but afternoons are for sewing and reading (and occasional napping). This week, I started off with some light and bright blue sewing for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.  Here are my two Spring Star blocks.

And these are all the blocks I’ve made so far this year - two of each color every month. Each block is 12.5”.

I also got my waffle blocks sewn. Each quadrant of the waffle blocks is a block in its own right, but I’m sewing them together in fours. So, here are my three (twelve) blocks for April. They are 10.5” each.

With those blocks finished, I could move on to sewing up light blue toddler-sized quilts for Quilts for Kids. I showed you this first one in the piecing stages last week. Now, The Princess and her Monkeys (thanks, Katie) is a finished 42x48” quilt.

I was pleased with how well the light blue string blocks blended in. Since there weren’t enough of the princess or the monkey squares, I had to add in a few fillers, but they were cute things like birds, a hedgehog and such. 

The back was a piece (Stonehenge?) from my stash and the quilting was a simple flowing loop design. Most of the kids quilts I quilt are either loops or stipple because they’re so easy and quick.

This next quilt came together very quickly, so I don’t think I had anything to show before this week. I’m calling it Alphabet Monkeys, and it used up all the remaining sock monkey fabric (Praise the Lord!) I had on hand.  The blue- and white-background pieces were width of fabric, so I just arranged them pleasingly and divided them with red 1.5” strips. There was a enough of the monkeys-in-squares multi-colored fabric to make five blocks, and they were added in as another row near the top.

Alphabet Monkeys finished at 42.5x47” and was quilted with a stipple. For the backing, I used one of those 100% cotton alphabet/number curtain panels I thrifted last month. Perfect!

And the next light blue kids quilt went from an idea to a quilt top this week too. Here’s the finished top, but let me walk you through this a bit. The scraps from Quilts for Kids were the three blue and orange sea critter scraps you see below - in those exact sizes and configurations. They dictated the color scheme.  Other QFK scraps were a width-of-fabric (wof) strip of the blue dolphins, which I divided into two strips, some blue waves on white (not wof) and a 2.5” strip of gray anchors (at the very top). Oh, and those orange chevron scraps that had been trimmed from a QFK quilt backing - hence the odd orientation. To those I added some leftover chunks of Tula Pink Saltwater scraps in blue and orange from my stash.

It’s not the most beautiful quilt ever, but it works and I’m pleased with it. It measures 40x45.5” and will get quilted this coming week. I may even try some waves or curls or something. 

I’ll also be sewing my last set of light blue RSC blocks this week. And another item that’s moved to my priority list for the coming week is the purple 4-patch posy blocks. I want to get them sashed and sewn into a top. We have a QFK workshop in 2 weeks, and I’d like to have that one done by then.

And lest you think I forgot about those ugly 9-patch blocks from the 80’s that I showed you last week, think again. I got them all sewn together. Let’s take a look (if you’re brave enough. Warning; they’re U.G.L.Y.!!). First up, the pinks and blues. They’re on the design wall with some denim-colored cotton chambray that will be used as the backing. I had originally thought that I could use it for sashing or bordering them, but I wanted something to make these blocks sing. Heck, the chambray didn’t even get them humming, so it’s banished to the backing. 

I will probably still cut these 9-patches into Disappearing 9’s, but I’m thinking of bordering them with a light cream (or ??) first to add some other non-pink or blue fabrics into the mix. I’ve talked to several of my QFK friends, and one (Cyndi) thinks she may have something that will work as a border with these. We’ll see. So far, the best option from my stash is a Kaffe fabric turned backwards (wrong side), but I’ll be da**ed if I’ll use my Kaffe for this quilt. I’ve also scouted some fugly 80’s pink and blue floral prints on Etsy. If Cyndi’s fabric doesn’t work, that’s what I’ll order.  So this one is on hold for a couple weeks.

The next groups of ugly 9Ps are these green, gold, etc. blocks.  About 4 of them were the originals, and the rest I pieced from scraps to coordinate. These actually didn’t turn out too terribly badly. And I have that yellow which should help pull it all together. Not sure if this will be sashed 9-patches or a Disappearing 9P.  

Oh! Bruce ordered an early birthday present for himself. He got another guitar - a little one that he can play with his prosthetic arm. He has some “set-up” work to do on it, but it plays easily for him. Terri, I know you’re smiling here, but I have to admit to the world that Bruce has GAS. That’s Guitar Acquisition Syndrome (and he also has its sister disease, BAS - Banjo Acquisition Syndrome). He has promised me that he will begin selling off or giving away some of the instruments that he can’t play anymore. Right. I won’t hold my breath, though. I think our kids may have to figure that out some day!! (Just like they’ll have to do with my fabric.....)

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Stitchin’ the Blues

Happy Saturday! I’d like to start out by wishing everyone (who celebrates) a Happy Easter or Passover (which ends tomorrow) or Ramadan (which isn’t for another week or so).... or whatever. Since it’s just Bruce and me here (no family gatherings yet), all we’re doing is having a bit of a fancy dinner on Sunday. Yeah, don’t tell anyone, but I’m actually going to fix an entire meal with all the fixin’s. I’ll try not to make a habit of it. 

It was a great week because we got to visit with our friend Terri for an hour or two. She was planning to be in the neighborhood, so we *finally* got to exchange Christmas gifts and birthday gifts from the last few months. We’re all fully vaccinated, and since it’s safe to meet with family and friends (and Terri qualifies as both), we got to talk and laugh and HUG! It was so awesome, and definitely a high point in our week.  

Also, Alfie and Darla got a great order from Chewy this week. After I unpacked the box, they got to play with their favorite item - the empty box!  But they loved their toys, too, and have been crazily playing with those as well. I also ordered and received compostable litter bags, so I never ever have to scrounge plastic bags again. YAY!! 

Another new month means we get another color of scraps to work with for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. To go along with our sunny blue spring skies, Angela has chosen light and bright blues for our April scrap color. Yay! I was almost afraid to go down into my studio for fear that those blue scraps had taken over!! 

Last week I showed you a quilt that I was going to try to squeeze in as a finish before the end of March. Well, I finished it just before dinner on the 31st, so I was able to chalk up 9 quilt finishes in March. It’s just another string quilt, with some solid green and yellow blocks (spring!) thrown in to calm it down a bit. Stipple quilting, usual 42x48” size. Labeled and added to the pile for Quilts for Kids. 

Then it was time to happily change gears from greens to blues. Lots of stuff here to keep me busy for April!  That dark blue/mixed blue pile in the picture below is the scraps from the scrap bin. I sorted out all the darks and put those away for another month. We’re just keeping it light and bright for now. Also, I put away the blue rain/umbrella fabric (extreme right) because that’s yardage and I can always work with that another time or use it as a backing. The large pieces of blue and brown letters (left top) and the blue solid on top of it were a 100% cotton curtain (lined) I bought at the thrift store a couple months ago. There’s enough there to back 4 quilts. 

First I decided to go through everything and divide the scraps into piles of like things. There will be a nautical quilt, a sock monkeys quilt, and a dinosaur (-ish) quilt of blues and browns. I had some smaller scraps of pink princesses on blue and some extra sock monkey fabric, so that’s where I started. After all, what goes better with princesses than sock monkeys? 

I had to pull in some other bits and squares from my stash, but this is what it looks like as I’m finally sewing the top together. It’s going to be called Princesses and Monkeys (or maybe The Princess and The Monkey - like a fable or something?)

I had some light blue string blocks in my stash, but not enough. So, the first thing I did for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge was to sew my light blue strings into more blocks. I made 18 blocks at 6.5” unfinished, and I forgot to get a picture. Dang! Anyway, six of them were added to the ones I already had for the quilt above, and the other dozen will hang out until called upon to serve. Princesses and Monkeys should finish up this week and I’ll start on one of the next quilts in between RSC blocks.

The light blue Momcat and her kittens showed up this week as well. You’ll notice that Momcat and one of her kittens are made of cat fabric!

In the Quilty Orphan Adoption event that Cynthia held last month, I was fortunate enough to win some 9-patch scraps. Here are the eleven 9.5” nine-patch blocks I won. I have plenty of fabrics to supplement these with (I’ve already pulled them, hehe). No fancy plans here - just make more blocks, sash them and sew them into a quilt.  I’d venture to guess that these fabrics are from the nineties through the aughts.

The real challenge is with the larger blocks that were the second part of the lot. These are 12.5” blocks and considerably older and uglier.  There were 14 blocks, but one I just had to throw away because it was stained in several places. The remaining 13 got separated into two groups of six each, with one leftover.

I ended up taking apart the two green and pink blocks in the left group and moved the pinks squares over to the pink/red/blue group on the right. The gold and red block at the bottom was also taken apart, with the gold staying with the left green/gold/brown group and the red moving to the red/pink/blue group. 

Then I pulled some fabric candidates for additional patches for each group. I think I can make enough supplemental blocks for each group, then “sash the hell” out of them (as Cousin Kim and I say...) and get two kids’ quilts as a result. As an alternative,  I’ve also considered making them into Disappearing 9-Patch blocks because making these disappear might be the kindest thing I could do! Stay tuned. It’s ugly, but it will be fun!

We spent one morning this week working out in the yard - cleaning garbage and leaves and debris. It was so good to move and stretch and feel the sunshine. We’ve also gone on some nice walks this week and even had our first Barnes & Noble coffee/book date in over a year! Life is good.