Monday, May 31, 2021

Hands 2 Help 2021

This year I’m participating once again with Hands 2 Help, a great online charity quilting drive organized by Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict.  I’ve participated for several years in the past, but I think I missed out last year (pandemic?). 

But here I am in 2021. As I do ongoing charity quilting for the Salt Lake chapter of Quilts for Kids, I have chosen them as the charity I’m contributing to for Hands2Help. However, I don’t feel it’s fair to count ALL my charity quilts for purposes of this challenge, so I’ll only be showing the ones I’ve completed in March, April and May of this year - the months of Hands2Help. 

First, here is a collage of my quilts finished in March. You may notice that many of the first batch are in green - that’s because I follow along with the Rainbow Scrap Challenge every month, and use that as a guide to finishing some of my donation quilts.

Seven Donation Quilts, March 2021

For more information about these or any of the quilts, check out my “2021 Quilts” tab at the top of the blog (or just click the link I gave). All my quilts are listed with names, measurements and dates finished.

Next up are the six donation quilts I completed in April 2021.

Six Donation Quilts, April 2021

and finally....

Eight Donation Quilts, May 2021

That’s 21 donation quilts. I should mention that the quilt (wallhanging) in the bottom right of the above picture (the International Sisters pattern) is actually going to Harambe Humanitarian, a nonprofit organization here in Utah and Kenya that provides menstrual supplies and training for young girls of the Maasai tribe. This is the third (of 8 scheduled) quilts of mostly African fabrics that I’ve made for them for fundraising purposes.

I hope you’ll check out the 3rd and final link-up of finished quilts at the Hands2Help link-up at Confessions of a Quilt Addict. The world is a small place and any way we can help others is a wonderful thing.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Endings and Beginnings

I’m not sure where to begin; what a discombobulated week!

Shortly after I posted last Saturday’s blog post, I had an email through It appears that someone had a very close DNA match to me, and that person is a half brother. I already have a full brother named Steve, and we knew that our real father married again (very briefly) after he and my mom divorced. Well, apparently his second wife had a son that they named Bryan. Bryan just had his DNA done with the express purpose of finding his lost siblings (which he thought was two sisters). 

We’ve been emailing back and forth, sharing our life stories and finding out some awful things about our common father, who was never more than a sperm donor in any of our lives. Steve and I were given our step-father’s surname and Bryan was given his step-father’s surname. This whole thing has been just mind-blowing. Something of this magnitude in one’s life tends to knock you off your axis a bit. At least it does for me. Steve and Bryan have talked - they both always wanted a brother and only had sisters (Bryan has 4 half sisters, 5 including me). Bryan grew up in San Dimas, California, which was the next city over from Covina, California where Steve and I grew up. Wow, the wasted years...

So, my week consisted of a lot of thinking. Thinking while sewing, thinking while writing to Bryan and talking to Steve. Thinking while not cooking (there was pizza and a lot of fend-for-yourself meals this week). Thinking while mostly not answering emails. So, I have a lot of quilts and a brother to show for the week!

In no particular order, here are the quilts I finished up (primarily just quilting and binding) this week. We start with Strings and Gems, finishing at the usual (for my QFK string quilts) 42x48”.

The backing is the last of this wide-back splatter print.

Next was the third International Sisters double-sided wall hanging that I finished for Harambe Humanitarian. The other two were done in previous years.

The wall hanging finished at 28.5” across by 42.5” down, not including the hanging sleeve.

Since May is red month at the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, where many of us are sharing our red blocks and creations at Scrappy Saturday (check it out!), I’m working on finishing red quilts for Quilts for Kids from my scraps and those donated by friends and QFK itself. Here is a very simple finish, Red Bees.

Sometimes you just need to use up some of the yardage pieces along with scraps, and that’s what I did here. The little quilt measures 40x46”.  The quilting was a simple bee-line loopy thing that echoed the flight paths of the bees in the red fabric. The backing is the same red bee fabric.

And then I finished quilting and binding the Disappearing Pinwheels blocks. Remember that I had trouble counting the number of blocks last week? It seems that both my first count (22 blocks) and my second count (26 blocks) were wrong. Either that or these blocks are multiplying in the dark. The final count was 28 - twelve that I used in this quilt, plus 16 more left over; 8 red and 8 navy. But first, here is Disappearing Pinwheels.

It’s pinned sideways on my design board. The finished size is 40” x 52”. I love it! I quilted it with swirls (I’m sure there’s a real name for the pattern). And I did an OK job. Not great, but this was really good practice. So, I’m showing you this picture of the quilting, bobbles and all. It is what it is. 

So, what is to become of the remaining Disappearing Pinwheels? The 8 leftover navy ones will be dealt with in the next blue RSC month. That leaves the 8 red ones, which I made into a churn dash variation of Disappearing Pinwheels. The ninth block was going to be strings for a 3x3 setting measuring 36x36”. In addition, I made 16 blocks (6.5”) of red strings with black and white strings (no picture). The strings were to be just the center block. But then tragedy struck.

I was not paying attention - thoughts were wandering everywhere as they have been all week. I cut the last block wrong. The pinwheel was 13.5” and was to be cut into 4.5” segments (thirds) both horizontally and vertically. The right cut is wrong, and there is no fixing this. That means there were only 7 blocks to work with. What can you do with seven blocks?

Well, I put one of the red blocks in with the navy blocks so that will give me 9 for that quilt when its turn comes. That left me with six red blocks, so I decided that I could use them along with three strings blocks (all of them 12” when sewn together). After playing way too long  on the design board with the blocks, I thought I had a solution. But my mind went on walkabout again, and this is what I ended up sewing.

Ugh!! That was it for that day; I had to quit. The working title of this is now DOG’S BREAKFAST. I think it will be easy enough to rip off the bottom red strip and row of blocks and reverse orient them at the top so that the string blocks make a diagonal line ala tic-tac-toe.  I’ll do that and quilt the d*** thing before the end of the month. 

Finally, I sewed together the Ugly Nine Patch donation blocks into an Ugly Nine Patch flimsy. The sashing is a non-color called oatmeal. There’s no shortage of ugly here this week, is there? Seriously, considering the blocks I started with, I don’t think it’s that bad! I’m just going to back it with a solid yellow from my stash and call it good. This, too, is scheduled to be finished this week before the end of the month. 

Finally, we’ll end with something beautiful after all the ugly blocks and quilts! My Chihuly rose bush (named in honor of glass artist Dale Chihuly) is looking amazing this year! 

It’s a little past its peak blooming time, so some of the roses are wide open, but it keeps on adding more.The colors are so vibrant! I can’t remember if it bloomed a second time last year, but I’ll be deadheading this and feeding it (and talking sweetly to it) to increase the odds!

Life is .... full of wonderful surprises.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Done and Dusted

Done and dusted. That would be the perfect title for this week’s blogpost if my spring cleaning were done. It would be the perfect title if all my planned sewing and quilting projects for this month, or even just this week were done. But no. It’s the perfect title because after this busy week (especially yesterday), am done and dusted. Tired. Spent. Exhausted. 

On Monday we ran 6 of our 8 “needs to happen this week” errands. Tuesday was yardwork day. The veggie garden is planted and so are all the flowers and flower pots. Wednesday was sewing day. Thursday was tackling Mt. Washmore, more errands, and more yardwork. Friday was grocery shopping and the installation of our new home security system. The guys who sold us our security plan (and those who installed it) were amazing. Heck, George was here long enough for the cats to warm up to him! So now we’re in the 21st century with smart home technology, cameras, alarms, detectors for fire and gas/carbon monoxide (already had those), sensors for water leaks, glass breakage, and more - all accessible from our panel or smart phones. And for a negligible amount over what we were paying before. But the process was a bit disruptive yesterday. I’m so glad it’s done (and dusted!)

BUT - that means I didn’t get accomplished what I thought I’d get done in the sewing room this week. All is not lost though as I do have things to share.  First up are the “chips" that I finished a week ago but didn’t share last week. I thought I was making 12 of each, but it turns out that my count was off, so there are 13 with white borders and 11 with black borders. 

Kim and I basted two flimsies on Wednesday, but I only got one quilted. It was this little red scrappy column quilt that I showed the beginnings of last week. It finished at 40x48” and made a nice dent in my red scraps.

The backing used up the last of this cute print I’ve had in my stash for about 3 years. Naturally, the quilt will go to Quilts for Kids. 

I also worked on the large half square triangles that I’m making into Disappearing Pinwheels. I thought I had enough to make 22 blocks and had planned to make a quilt using 20 blocks, with the 2 leftovers going into the Parts Department. But I counted again and realized I had enough to make 26 blocks (Are you sensing a pattern here with my counting ability?) so, I decided to make more than one quilt. 

This is where I am with the first quilt. It will consist of 12 blocks and be bordered with the red on all four sides (it’s just partially pinned now). The backing will be some of the denim blue chambray hanging to the right.

The remaining blue HSTs will wait for our Dark Blue month in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. However, I’ll sew up and play with the remaining 8 red and white blocks this month. I’ll have to add some other blocks to bring them up to a good quilt size. Here is one partial possibility with string blocks. 

But I’ll have other blocks to consider adding, because I also sewed up six 6.5” crumb blocks and 13  4-patches. Stay tuned.

After resting up, I’m getting a late start today (Saturday). Today I’ll be cleaning the spare downstairs bedroom. I finally assembled my new Shark vacuum for use downstairs. We’ll use our regular old heavy monster vac for upstairs without the need to cart it up and down stairs. Plus, naturally, there will be laundry and sewing today. We hope to make plans for the coming week to visit a friend and enjoy the fruits of our last several weeks' of labor. Life is good. 

Linking to:  Rainbow Scrap Challenge and Oh Scrap!

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Coming Together

This week we had so many plans and goals come to fruition, and it’s a wonderful feeling. Every year that we can live in this house (4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, my studio, an office and Bruce’s workshop plus a yard with 8 ½ raised garden beds) is a bonus. I’m 67 and Bruce is 74 with one arm, so we know our time here is limited. Downsizing is in our future, but not this year and hopefully not next year either. 

The carpet guys finished up the basement this week and the final move-back of the studio and office is done. Well, I have one box to unload and return to shelves in the office, but that’s it. Bruce had help twice this week from the local church missionary young men, and they transferred two cubic yards of new soil into the garden beds. Today he (and me if he needs another hand, LOL) will install the drip irrigation in the garden beds and plant the veggies. I’m also planting the front entry flower pots today that I should’ve done a week ago. Since we had the exterior windows cleaned last week, I decided to clean the interior windows (paced myself) this week and do some deep spring cleaning. Next week I’ll clean up the downstairs bedroom and I’ll be all done with that. Yay!

Mother’s Day was lovely, with all kids either dropping in (the local ones) or calling (the out of state ones). I got flowers, gift cards, bath bombs and lots of hugs!! Such a beautiful contrast to last year!

I’ve been having fun sewing up my red scraps. Angela, our Rainbow Scrap Challenge leader has called red for May. Since I have a lot to share, I’ll be linking up with Scrappy Saturday. First, I finished quilting and binding the Red Alphabet quilt for Quilts for Kids (QFK). 

This little quilt finished at 40x45”. It used the red alphabet fabric that my friend Angie sent me last fall, plus some red and yellow squares from the QFK scraps and some blue strips from my stash. 

The quilting is just a simple stipple. The backing is a hodgepodge of scraps from my stash, QFK, leftover alphabet fabric, etc. I love using things up. It’s rather hideous, though. But kids don’t care....

With that done, it was time to put the pedal to the metal and sew some red blocks. First, two Spring Stars. They will measure 12” when sewn into a quilt.

Those took no time at all, so I kept going. Next up were the waffle blocks. The one in the center was my test block that I sewed last year to see if I’d like them.  Naturally, I loved them, so here we are. I sewed two more this month, but I’ll count all three since I never counted the test block. They are set four together to make each block 10.5” (10” finished).

A couple weeks ago I showed a pile of large red and navy half square triangles. Well, as I went through them this week, I realized the red ones were only half sewn. So, I finished those and counted them all.

There were enough of each color to make 11 pinwheel blocks of each color. But what quilt layout uses 22 blocks? I decided to use ten of each for a 20-block setting. So, now I’m sewing a red pinwheel and a blue pinwheel - one of each every day. Then I’m cutting them into two different Disappearing Pinwheel variations.

You can see what the blocks are going to look like eventually. I had a better closeup, but I wanted to show the new carpet and coving in this picture. See? My fabric is even back on the shelves. The old hard-wired telephone lines (and yucky old phone outlet) are gone and everything is clean and spiffy now. I love clean and spiffy, hehe!  But I digress.....

I’ll continue to sew one red and one navy block every day, and in another week or so, I’ll have enough to assemble them into another QFK quilt top.  I also decided to pull some of my string blocks and use up some for another string top. Here’s what I pinned up on the design board. Those three red string blocks in this top are the only red ones I had left from last year’s red month.

But fear not! I got a wild hair to sew string blocks this week, and I made 30 new red blocks.

As usual, the string blocks will finish at 6”. I have plans for six of them to go into an in-process red scrappy column quilt. There will be 4 columns of 6” blocks and 2 columns of 8” blocks. So, the length will be 48” and the width will be 40”.  Besides the snowballs and rail fence blocks below, there will be the string blocks, some nine-patches and then the 8” blocks will be windmills and sawtooth stars. 

I actually have more blocks to show, but I’m going to save them for next week. My goal for the coming week (after the flower pot planting and deep cleaning the downstairs bedroom) is to finish the red scrappy column quilt top, sew the string blocks into a top and maybe even get them both sandwiched up. And of course I’ll continue to sew on those Disappearing Pinwheels.  So if you drop by, you’ll either find me out working in the yard or downstairs sewing. Life is good.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

More Fabric Scraps

Last weekend, I attended our monthly Quilts for Kids workshop. I turned in 17 scrap quilts, all made since our January meeting. Three of the quilts were made and donated by my friend Terri, and the rest were made by moi. To punish reward me for using up so many scraps, our leader Sandy brought me two more garbage bags full of scraps. One of them was just strips, cut 1.5 to 4” by WOF (width of fabric). Now, keep in mind that last week was the new carpet install, for which I had to clean out my studio, then bring back in at least half the stuff (machines, cutting tools, fabrics, WIPs, etc) in order to work. So then I had to sort through the two new bags of scraps and put them away in their new homes. NEXT week the carpet guys are coming back to install the coving (carpet baseboards), so the fabric (more of it now) will all have to be moved out again. Luckily, this time much of it can just be piled on the four tables in the center of the room since the installers only need access to the baseboard areas. And they’ll move the furniture out from the wall and back again once they’re finished.

I did manage to get one of my monthly blocks done for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, and I’m linking up to Scrappy Saturday to share. Meet the red momcat and her litter of five kittens. 

I had good intentions of sewing more blocks, but the week got away from me. I did use up some red alphabet fabric that Angie sent me, along with some red and yellow and blue scraps. Some of the red and yellow had already been sewn into three four-Patches, so I continued with that, and this top came together very quickly. Honestly, I used lots of chunks and strips for the backing and that took longer to sew up. This will get basted and quilted this week and I’ll show that crazy backing, too.

So what did I do in the sewing room, then? Well, Cousin Kim and I spent Wednesday afternoon cutting the new scrap strips and solids into zipper blocks. I’ll be doing a scrappy workshop for QFK in either September or October, and have chosen the zipper block to show them. The zipper blocks (see Lynn Dykstra’s tutorial here) finish at 6x9”, and we will be doing 48 blocks per quilt for a youth quilt measuring 48x54”. So far, between cutting strips and squares, matching prints with contrast squares, pinning block pieces together and bagging, we have completed about 6 kits. I need at least that many more. I probably won’t get them all done this week, but I don’t need to. It was just an easy way to tame the piles of new scraps.

That clear bag (upper left of picture above) has five bagged kits in it, with another kit waiting to be added. Once I make  another zipper quilt to show them, I’ll prepare a handout to include in each bag. Kim and I will probably work on these tomorrow. I know it’s Mother’s Day tomorrow, but we decided that’s how we want to spend it. 

Scraps!! Red scraps in front, zipper scraps in the piles behind. We have our “work cut out for us”, hehe. If only...

On Monday, it was Bruce’s birthday. The day was picture perfect, and we enjoyed a nice walk to the park. Some of the family came over in the evening and we had the much-anticipated mud pie. It did not disappoint. 

Bruce had an appointment Tuesday with his prosthetist to have his prosthetic arm checked. No issues and all is well. Then we went to Home Depot to get flowers for the front garden pots and planters, plus new fluorescent lights for my studio. The coolest thing we got was a wagon (a Gorilla Wagon, LOL) for Bruce to use in the garden since he can’t use a wheelbarrow. We’re having 2 cubic yards of soil delivered later this week, and will have several young men from the neighborhood coming by next week to help Bruce haul it to the garden planter beds.

Cousin Kim was here on Wednesday to sew, but as I mentioned, we cut zipper blocks and made kits. Oh, we also went to JoAnn’s because I needed to get straight pins for the zipper block kits. Some fabric may or may not have come home with us...

Thursday was a work-in-the-garden day, with another trip back to Home Depot to get more sprinkler parts. And a side trip to get iced coffee at Barnes and Noble. 

Friday was grocery shopping, laundry, making strawberry-rhubarb compote (a huge batch to begin stocking the freezer), and more zipper block cutting. Soil was delivered, window washers came by, and things are shaping up ever so slowly!!

By this time next week, my studio will all be put back together , I’ll have lots more RED scrap blocks sewn, the flower pots will be planted and the garden beds will be ready to plant. Life is good.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

A Busy Week

The deed is done. The carpet is installed in our basement office, my studio and the stairs leading down to the basement. Whew! I paced myself over the 10 days prior to last Tuesday’s installation date to move all my fabrics (and tools, WIPs, and accessories) to the spare downstairs bedroom. The drawers from the office desk, plus all the office supplies storage, closet storage and the CD storage (which looks like an old library case) were moved over that time as well. Then, last Saturday we had to move two large and VERY HEAVY bins of food storage (a Christmas gift from my son Shane a year ago). The first bin we slid to the three little steps leading down to Bruce’s laboratory, and let gravity do the work. For the second one, Bruce wanted each of us to grab one side handle and lift and carry it. I know how to lift with my legs instead of my back, but I used my right arm and re-injured my neck and shoulder (we ended up sliding it down like the first bin). I have Thoracic Outlet Syndrome too, so even just overuse of my arm and shoulder can aggravate my neck. I was down for three and a half days days nursing my neck with a heating pad, ice, Ibuprofen and Tylenol. Lying in bed offered the best relief for a couple days, but by Tuesday I was up and moving. I’m almost back to normal now, just using Extra Strength Tylenol. Yesterday I went grocery shopping, mopped floors, did a load of laundry and made 3 pints of strawberry-rhubarb compote, so it was  a very good energy day.

Regarding the carpet, though, I don’t have any pictures yet. It’s a medium-toned gray/taupe, very plush and thick carpet. But it’s not really done. They are coming back on May 13 to install the coving, which is basically carpet baseboards. It had to have the edge finish cording (or whatever it’s called) stitched to it first. Once that is done, I’ll take pictures. And yes, I’ll have to move my fabric again so they can move the bookcases out from the wall to install it. But there isn’t really anything heavy for us to move (they do it), so in the studio it’s business as usual - and anything that isn’t needed can stay in temporary exile until mid-May. 

So let’s move on to more Quilty things, shall we?

I did get my two Rainbow Scrap Challenge quilts quilted and finished. These were the windmill (Twin Sisters) blocks I worked on for RSC2020. First is the gender-neutral quilt (darker colors, no pink).

It was quilted with a viney loop and backed with a polka-dot backing fabric from Connecting Threads. 

The second quilt had the pinks, pastels, florals, etc. - more girly. 

This had the same backing as the first quilt. Both quilts measure 42x48” and will be donated to Quilts for Kids. I’m also participating in Hands2Help again this year, and these quilts count for that. When we wrap up the H2H drive, I’ll do a recap post of my charity quilt donations. But for now, I’m linking up to Scrappy Saturday for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge

On Thursday and Friday I decided to tackle those ugly pink and blue nine-patch blocks that I won last month. I thought I’d do a Disappearing 9-Patch, but I wanted to add a white (actually an off-white) into the mix. Then I discovered the Double Disappearing Nine Patch. There are a couple ways to do a DD9P, but this is how I did mine.

Start with your 9-patch and cut it into four even quadrants. 

Measure your resulting squares and cut four white/background squares and one colored square the same size. place them to make another nine-patch, like below. 

Sew together the “new” 9-patch, then once again cut into four equal quadrants.

Arrange your quadrants in any manner  you like!

So now I have 8 of 12 of the original blocks sewn and chopped, and this is what I’ve got so far. The blocks at this point measure 8” and will finish at 7.5”.

I’m going to set them 6 across by 7 down so that I’ll have six leftover blocks. I’m thinking there are at least 4 blocks (from one original 9-patch block) that will be too ghastly to include on the front. But they’ll end up on the back and I’ll be done with them! This quilt still won’t be a “looker”, but it will be a serviceable donation quilt.

Before that finishes up, however, I’ll be getting a start on my Red May RSC blocks. Here are some of the things I plan to work on in the merry, merry month of May.  My red scrap bin runneth over. It’s sitting on some red orphan blocks.

Two more prospective red kid quilts: alphabet and bees.

And finally, some red and navy large HSTs for another yet-to-be-designed kid quilt. 

Our May is starting out much better than last year. Last week we passed the one year anniversary of Bruce’s arm amputation. Who’d have thought he’d be playing guitar and banjo this year? We’re celebrating his birthday (Monday) with his favorite; mud pie from Baskin-Robbins. We’ve invited some of the family over to help us eat it. There was no way to order just one piece each for ourselves, and death by chocolate is not an option.