Friday, December 31, 2021

Wrapping Up 2021

It’s time to wave goodbye to 2021. It seems this year flew by, but we always think that at year-end, don’t we? The deep winter here in the northern hemisphere allows us time to reflect during the year-end holidays. All in all, it’s been a pretty good year at the Kizerian Cottage. There are always ups (good health, family and friends, quilting and traveling) and downs (basement leaks/floods, the pandemic and politics). I’m so very grateful that we have another year to look forward to together. There are so many good things ahead! And did I mention cats? CATS! Our dear fur kids Alfie and Darla always liven up the time we spend at home. Yeah, cats are near the top of the Good Things category. 

This year I sewed a total of 68 quilts. That’s a lot, to be sure, but remember that most of them were kid-sized quilts for my favorite local charity, Quilts for Kids, Salt Lake Chapter. Those kid quilts usually measure 40-42” wide and under 50” long. I had my machine “Bernadette” (a Bernina 550QE) serviced this week, and the technician noted on the service notes that I had put on 2.8 million stitches this year! 

Looking back at the year, I can divide my quilts into those I made as donation quilts for Quilts for Kids, those I made for person use or gifting, and those I made for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge (which may have ended up as a personal or donation quilt). 

**** Donation Quilts ****

Here are five of my favorite (or your favorites, judging by comments) QFK quilts from this year

“Creamsicle”, Orange and Cream String Quilt, September
This was just a fun make and used up so many string scraps. I got into a groove and when I came to, the blocks were done, LOL!

Riverdance , July
Riverdance came about when I was gifted some navy and orange scraps. I already had some four-patches in those colors set aside and they all blended well. To set the blocks apart, I used white strips to make them “dance”, hence the name.

Stringing the Blues, July
It’s no secret that I love string blocks. But when I had more than enough in blue to make an entire quilt, I figured “why not?”

Bright Blocks, June
This was a fun challenge I set for myself. I had some multi-colored patches aging in my scrap stash (the middle patches), so I pulled limited-quantity scraps and strips that matched it in reds, blues and greens. Eventually, this is how it came together. It was a blast! Sorry it’s pinned up wonkily on the design board!

Seahorse With No Name, March 
This was inspired by the border fabric, picked up at an estate sale. I used a Kaffe Fasset fabric for the sea floor and a solid light green for the water. The seahorse is my interpretation of one similar that I saw online. For added interest I pieced a color-gradient reef and appliqu├ęd some “coral”. The water was given wavy line quilting.

**** Personal Quilts ****

My personal favorite quilts I made this year were:

Pinwheels (for Lauren)

Beachcomber (for Graham)

Zipperumpazoo (for Megan)

Stay at Home (for Kelly)

Ring Around the Roses (for me)

Ring Around the Roses was finished just a couple days ago. I made the blocks in January and February as I sewed along with the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. The rose fabric is one that’s been in my stash probably 8-10 years, and I absolutely adore it. It’s been something I’ve been looking forward to finishing, and the wait was worth it.

Ring Around the Roses was quilted with a small vine-y loop. In the four corners I stitched a large rose motif, one of which you can see in the above picture. The quilt finished at 60x72” and I am enjoying it already!!

**Rainbow Scrap Challenge (RSC) Finishes**

Top Row: Spring Stars, Waffles, Cats
Middle Row: Windmills I and II
Bottom Row: Beachcomber, Sampler

I still have two RSC quilts to finish from 2021’s blocks: Chips and Split Nines.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Our Christmas was spent at the home of my son Ryan and daughter-in-law Kim. The grandkids Lauren (and boyfriend Graham) and Easton were there, too, of course. Easton was home from the Navy in South Carolina for Christmas.

L-R: Bruce, Lauren, Cathy, Graham, Kim, Easton, Ryan

All of Kim’s family was there (except one brother and his son), but there were 23 of us all together. Everyone was vaccinated, and we took a Covid test upon arriving before joining the festivities. We had a great meal (everyone contributed), great conversation, lots of laughter, gift opening and lots of catching up.  (Bruce and I aren’t in this picture. I was photographer *cough*).

So, this week we’ve been having snowstorm after snowstorm (at least the snowblower is fixed!) and are staying home for New Year’s Eve. 

Thanks for joining me this year! Your support and comments and friendship have meant the world to me! I hope you’ll continue to drop by in 2022. I’ll be continuing with the Rainbow Scrap Challenge and Quilts for Kids among other things. 

May your New Year 2022 be healthy and happy!  (Oh! Dang it! Can you believe that our beloved Betty White died on December 30?!? Say it ain’t so!). 

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Snow, Sew and Vegetate

What a fun week it was as the Christmas season began to bear down on us. We got the last of the shopping done on Monday, just ahead of the snowstorm this week. It snowed overnight Tuesday, and on Wednesday we woke up to a winter wonderland. There was over a foot on the valley floor where we live. The ski resorts were inundated and I’m pretty sure we could’ve heard the skiers rejoicing had we tried. 

Our neighbors pitched in to help us old folk shovel out. And some friends with a truck loaded up our (too large, in my opinion) snow blower and took it to the repair shop for us. It wouldn’t fit in our SUV, and we couldn’t have lifted it ourselves if it did. We have family members with a truck arranged to help us get it back when it’s been serviced. In the meantime,  I’ve kept the walkways shoveled and de-iced as we get skiffs and flurries. It’s exhilarating to be outside in snow and moving the ol’ body! Is it sick and wrong to enjoy snow shoveling? 

I went light on the sewing this week. Usually I spend several hours a day, but we had Other Important Things this week, like dentist appointments (semi-annual cleaning and all is well), going out for lunch, making a trip to the liquor store, walking in the snow and watching Christmas movies. I’ve also been trying to learn some advanced strategies for solving extreme Sudoku puzzles (on You Tube) with some success. Not much, but some. I go on Sudoku binges every few months….

But let me show you what I did sew. Inspired by my friend Julierose, I made a JOY table runner. I cut all the pieces several weeks ago, so it was quick work to assemble it. Actually, it can be either a table runner or a banner.

My goal this season has been to use up as many of my old Christmas scraps as possible. To that end I’ve already made two kitty quilts, a pair of pillowcases, my Christmas Presents quilt shown last week, and now this JOY table runner of scrap squares and yardage. 

JOY finished at 14x36”. The quilting is snowy-looking spirals. I added a hanging sleeve in case I want to hang it, but for now it will be a table runner. And see the Father Christmas in the picture? That was painted by Cousin Carrie (Kim’s sister) last year as a Christmas gift to us. I love it! Carrie selected the Father Christmas with all the wild animals for me as a nod to my Kenya trip back in 2018. Didn’t she do an amazing job? I keep him out almost all year. 

When I finished the JOY topper, I decided it was time to get a year-end chore done. Time to tackle the mountain of batting scraps and pieces. So I put on some lively Christmas music and spent an afternoon making Frankenbatting. I had some good-sized chunks and lots of strips. If it’s over 6” wide I save it. Skinnier strips and scraps to to a friend who makes pet beds. Some batting scraps are set aside and stored for things like table toppers, placemats, kitty quilts or zip pouches. But I had enough “ingredients” to make seven quilt-sized Frankenbatts!

My preferred method of making Frankenbatts is just to trim edges, butt them up and sew together with a short and wide zig-zag. I do have the heat-bonding strips, but they’re more of a pain. However, I keep a roll on hand just in case. (… in case of what, I’m not exactly sure). Anyway, once they were all sewn, I measured and labeled each one so they’re ready to go for the new year!

My final project of the year will be to finish up this Ring Around the Roses quilt for myself. I made the 10” blocks back in January and February, when the Rainbow Scrap Challenge colors were pink and yellow, respectively. I’m finally getting back to them now. The first plan was to just sew them together without sashing, like this. 

But I felt it needed and deserved more, and the blocks really needed some separation. An inner white stop border and an outer larger border of pink/yellow Moda Grunge fabric were already planned, but I felt that some narrow sashing and cornerstones would be sharp. 

Yep, much better! That’s as far as I have it now, although the border fabrics are all cut and ready to add. 

And since my daughter Megan claimed my last zipper quilt, I’m making another one for us. This week I sewed a couple dozen blocks or so, just a few here and there as the mood struck. Here are some of them from this week.

That wraps it up for today. We are planning a quiet week, hopefully doing nothing more than visiting a friend and exchanging neighborhood gifts. We’ll be spending Christmas Day with my son Ryan, DDIL Kim and her side of the family. I don’t yet have my food assignment, so I will need to make another grocery run before the big day. Plus, I’m feeling the need to bake some almond biscotti to enjoy in my coffee share with friends and neighbors. *wink* 

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Rainbow Scrap and Christmas Quilt Finishes

We finally got our first snow of the season this week. YAY!! It began on Thursday morning and stopped about noon on Friday. The accumulation here on the valley floor was about 3-4 inches, and about double that up in the mountains at the ski resorts (who’ve had to resort to making snow before this week). We are thrilled. Unfortunately, our snow blower, which had no use last year, has the throttle stuck in the open position. Bruce couldn’t get it unstuck, so we’ll have to take it in for a tune-up. I shoveled the front walkway and some walking paths on the driveway, but our wonderful neighbors across the street (dad Jason, mom Jen and son Riker) came over early in the evening and shoveled the rest of our driveway and sidewalks. We love them to bits! So today we need to get more ice melt and take the snow blower somewhere. Fun (not!)

There was plenty of sewing this week. First, I finished the Christmas Presents quilt for myself. The only Christmas-themed quilt I’d ever made for us before was a jelly roll race quilt in my early days of quilting. It had a red Minky (cuddle cloth) backing and I quilted it on one of my old machines. I used red thread, a big mistake for a beginner. The quilting was hideous and there for everyone to see in glaring detail. Also, the tension was bad in places. But my granddaughter London loved it, so I gave it to her. And almost ten years later it’s still going strong. Go figure. 

So, here is the quilt. The pattern is a free one from Kate Spain called Flurry, after the fabric line she released at the same time. After I quilted and bound it, I threw it in the washer so I could use it asap. Luckily I remembered color catchers (2), because they came out very pink and there were some areas of bleeding on the front. I washed it again in cold with more color catchers and it all seemed to come out. Phew! The quilt is nice and crinkly now, but the quilting, which I was reasonably pleased with, is difficult to see.

Christmas Presents (such an original name, LOL) finished at 54.5” x 58.5” before laundering. I love the smaller size as a lap quilt for me. 

In the four red cornerstones, I stitched large flowers. 

In the center colored strip of the border I just used a serpentine stitch. The white strips on either side were quilted with a meandering vine interspersed with holly leaves and loops. You might need to click on the picture below to enlarge and see the detail.  Also, each “gift” had a different quilting motif (stars, stipple, ribbon candy loops), with only about 3 repeats. 

The horizontal and vertical sashings got either viney loops or viney hook curls. 

With that quilt finished, I moved on to assembling the Spring Star blocks I sewed all during the year for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. This quilt fought me every step of the way during assembly. The blocks had a variance of about 3/8” inch, which means I lost a lot of points in the trimming. I ended up starching the front and the cotton sheet backing before basting to get them as flat as I could. 

At this point, I just trusted the quilting and the washing/shrinking to take care of the rest. I quilted it with loops and it was fine, finishing at 48x60”.

As usual, this will go to Quilts for Kids.  The quilting is a simple meandering loop, and with the fold-over binding from the backing fabric, I was wishing that I’d made those black squares gray instead. But when I started the blocks back in January, I had no idea of what the eventual backing would be. 

Well, I’m late getting this posted on this Saturday morning. My son Ryan came for dinner last night (DIL Kim is in South Carolina visiting Easton in the Navy). Between the snow shoveling yesterday, cleaning the house (sometimes it just *has* to be done) and fixing dinner, I guess I was more tired than I realized!

Linking up to Scrappy Saturday.

Saturday, December 4, 2021

It’s December!

Wow, this year is just speeding by, isn’t it? We’ve decorated lightly for Christmas, including a little tree. We pick up a few gift cards (the preferred gift of most family members) whenever we’re out, thus checking a few more names of the “Nice” list - no Naughties this year. I even did some baking! Bruce was jonesing for some oatmeal raisin cookies, so I obliged. 

Yeah, so cookies aren’t a preferred food on my diet plan (WW), but I’ve been plugging away losing about a pound or so every week for the last month or two. I love my WW meetings, and the group of friends that have developed there. One friend, Ruby, gave me some elegant fabric scraps that I showed a couple months ago. Well, last Tuesday she brought me the entire rest of the fabric - a full yard of this heavily embroidered expensive fabric. She does custom sewing on her industrial machines for Denton House, an exclusive source for home decorative items used by billionaires. I was floored. It is so beautiful - we all just fondled it lovingly.

Here are some close-ups to show some of the amazing detail. 

I have enough to make a large cushion (euro size) for the couch. I may even make two, but first I have to source some suitable backing fabric. I do have the pillow forms. 

Then with the smaller pieces and leftovers from that, I can probably make a half dozen simple cross-shoulder bags, which I’ll distribute to my WW friends. But first I’ll have to find a good, simple pattern (my days of drafting my own are well past) and the accessories like lining, shoulder straps, etc. Do you have any simple pattern ideas to suggest? 

In the meantime, I have been busy sewing. Yeah, so what else is new? I’m retired, the garden is sleeping, we see family regularly and do limited grouped errands in these Covid times. So, afternoons are usually spent in the studio. It’s what I love. 

My first finish this week was the brown and green strings quilt. It was finished early in the week and qualified as my last November finish.

I had sewn 27 brown string blocks earlier in the month and added the rest from my stash of string blocks. It needed an accent color, and I decided to use some green blocks as I remembered the green ones fell flat when mixed with the multi-colored string blocks I have by the dozens.

The backing was this green piece that I picked up at an estate sale a couple years ago. The quilt finished at the usual (for my string quilts using my 6.5” blocks) at 42x48” and is a donation quilt for Quilts for Kids. During our annual hiatus (November-December), I just accumulate quilts and donate them in a big batch at the January meeting. 

Here is the other quilt I finished on Thursday, making it my first finish of December. It was a way to use up a few donated strips sets in grays and red. There were actually only about three sets of those, so I used them as “seeds” and extended the color palette to include dark blue/navy. In the process, it ate up lots of ugly, unloved and/or orphan strips.

I made this quilt larger (48x56”) to be more appropriate for a tween or teen boy rather than a smaller kid. It has a definite masculine vibe. For the backing I used some wonderful gray yardage that I bought to use when making my son’s quilt last year (Arahorn) but never used. It was perfect here.

After that, I put away my dark neutral scraps - goodbye browns and grays! I needs me some COLOR!!!

Time to dig out a project I cut out last December and get it finished up for use this year!  Yeah, it’s another wonkily-pinned picture. Why do I always do that?? Anyway, here it is with the main portion sewn together. The pattern, Flurry, is a free one from Kate Spain, and the fabric is an older line, Pixie Noel, from Tasha Noel for Riley Blake fabrics. 

I modified it, eliminating a white row of sashing between the gifts and the cornerstones because I don’t like too much white. Also, notice that blue gift in the bottom row? It was a scrap from a  different line (don’t know where it came from), but it was a bit short for a gift. So, I just added some white at the bottom because who says all gift boxes have to be the same size? Another example in Cathy’s crazy world of “making do”. The quilt is for me, so I don’t really care if it messes up the symmetry. Symmetry is highly overrated. 

So, here are my progress shots so far. The borders are just pinned up for now because I still have to sew the bottom one. And can you see that red and white stripe fabric barely showing on the right-most picture?   How perfect is that for the binding?!? I plan to finish up this top today and maybe even get it basted. Quilting will be simple and NOT the swirls that I usually do for anything Christmas-related. I’ll show the finish next week. 

After that, my December is wide open for finishing UFO projects. Next in line will be a Rainbow Scrap Challenge finish - Spring Stars - that I made every month this year. I have twenty 12” blocks that I’ll set traditionally (4x5) for a 48x60” donation quilt.

And then I’ll tackle another personal UFO, Ring Around the Roses. I made these blocks last January and February, and they’ve been marinating in my stash since then. They are ready to be assembled!

That should keep me out of trouble for awhile.  What are you working on??