Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Good Time to Sew . . .

We're having another heat wave--perhaps you've heard about it?  Our temps have been around 108 degrees, so it's best to just stay indoors with the air conditioning on and quietly sew.  The last time our temperatures were this high was a couple weeks ago and I was leading my stitchery friends from one non-air conditioned place to another!  Boy am I glad I'm not doing that again, and I'm sure they are too!

Have you been playing with your scraps this weekend?  I have four more blocks made for the Pie in the Sky quilt (from Kim Diehl's book Simple Graces).  A couple more weeks worth of blocks and I should be ready to start cutting sashing squares and putting it together.

I still have plenty of scraps left, so it will soon be time to think of another project, and the strings blocks are still drawing me.  I was also thinking I have a scrappy quilt top I pieced a few years ago that I'd like to quilt soon--maybe I can devote a few Scrap Basket Sundays to quilting a scrappy quilt.

Remember to post photos of your scrap project on your blog and link up in the post below so we can visit you to see what you've been doing.  Happy scrap day!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Scrap Basket Sunday Sign-Ups!

It's Friday night and there's no quilting going on.  Do you remember I said some months back that I wasn't going to blog on Friday nights, I wasn't going to quilt, and I was going to go out to dinner with Hubby and then lay around in the bath with a bath bomb from Lush followed by Tylenol PM and an early night in bed?  Well, I keep breaking my own rules.  There have been nights when I've really wanted to head to the Sweat Shop after our dinner out, and then I'm up late as usual, and/or I decide to skip the bath bomb for whatever reason.  Invariably, later on, I find that by not getting that winding down and transition time between the work week and the weekend, I'm not feeling relaxed, refreshed, and reenergized.  So I'm going back to the original rules, except for the blogging part because I DO need to post the scrap basket sign ups.  So what I'm getting at is that you're not missing anything--I'm not quilting those last two blocks just yet.

So, here's the Mister Linky sign-up for Sunday--I hope you'll join us in working with some scraps and then showing us what you've made.  When you've posted or are ready to post your scrappy deliciousness to your blog, just add your blog to the link list and we'll come visit.  ("If you link it, they will come!")  "See" you then!

Friday, June 28, 2013

I've Seen Fire(works) and I've Seen Rain . . .

"I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end . . . ."  Remember James Taylor's song, Fire and Rain?  I was thinking about tonight's blocks, and that song came to mind.  In fact, right now it's playing on an endless loop in my mind, and I wish someone would shut it off!  Ah, well, moving right along . . .

So tonight's blocks.  The first is April with the rain coming down because, as everyone knows, April showers bring May flowers.

I'm a bit concerned the rain drops might look like something else which I'd rather not say just in case there are children reading my blog.  But you know what I'm thinking, right?  Because chances are good you were thinking the same thing.  At least they don't have squiggly tails.  Sheesh!  But I think the whole quilt, viewed in context, won't look too odd.

Then there's July's block.  And July is rather predictable with the fireworks-filled sky.

Oh, that reminds me!  Happy Canada Day!  I know--I'm a couple days early.  But I always seem to forget ON the day, so I'm just going to go ahead and say it now.  And if you want, come on back ON Canada Day and read it again, so it's more timely.

As I've been posting my quilting photos, I've had a few comments asking about my machine, and it always seems like the people with the questions are the people who are "no-reply" so I'll answer the questions here.  I have a Juki that I use for quilting and I love it.  The best thing about a Juki over other domestic sewing machines is that the throat area is larger than most machines, so that means the quilter can wrestle a large quilt around easier.

Another cool thing about the Juki is that it's very industrial-like and not computerized, so there are fewer parts to go bad, and I'm told, since it's not computerized, it's less expensive to repair--I can't really say, though, because I've never had to repair anything on it.  As a final selling point, it's one of the machines that can easily be hooked up to a frame system and used a little more like a long arm, but unless I get a larger house, I don't think I'll be setting up a frame system any time soon.

I got my Juki several years ago on eBay--I purchased it from a sew and vac shop that offered free shipping; I made a "best offer" and they accepted--it was a really good deal and I've never regretted it.  Not like I've regretted thinking about James Taylor's Fire and Rain.

"My body's aching and my [bed]time is at hand.  And I won't make it any other way . . . ."

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Seven and Eight of Twelve . . .

Are you getting weary of seeing my quilted blocks?  If you are, I apologize.  There just isn't very much else to talk about unless you want to hear about my work, and that's what makes ME a little weary!  Okay, that's not really true.  I seriously enjoy my work, but all of the best stories can't be told because of confidentiality concerns, so you're stuck with my quilting instead.

I started the evening in December; this is the seventh block to be quilted.

Yes, December's sky is filled with swirling snow flurries and everyone is inside by the fire.  By the way, once the quilting is done, I'll be adding some buttons and embellishments to each block, so if parts look a little plain, like that wreath on the door, just know that they'll get dressed up a bit later on.

Next I completed March, the eighth block to be quilted.  With St. Patrick's Day shamrocks and a pot of gold, quilting a rainbow in the background was the obvious choice.  With tonight's two blocks, I've finished the center column and the right hand column; it won't be too many more evenings now until all 12 blocks are complete.

You may have noticed something kind of whiskery to the left of the March block.  Mr. Stitch has been patiently waiting for me to finish what I'm doing and prepare his evening meal.  In fact, he's followed me to my computer and is sitting next to me now.

Who can resist such a cute face?  I guess it's time to feed the cats.  See you back here tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Few Thoughts and a Couple Answers

On the way home from work tonight, I needed to do some grocery shopping and fill up the car's tank with gas.  Before that, I had to chat with a friend.  And after I got home, there was the chore of putting the groceries away, followed by dinner.  All of this meant I wasn't able to get into the Sweat Shop until around 9:30 p.m., so I only finished quilting one block tonight--September.

September's background was a hard one for me to design.  In September, the weather here is hot and the air is still.  It's back-to-school time, but try as I might, I couldn't think of anything school-related to fill the background.  Finally it occurred to me, and it was so simple too!

There, right in front of me, was the sign "Apples for Sale" so I quilted the branches of an apple tree entering the block from the left hand side and then I filled in with leaves--no need to worry about quilting in the apples, because they've all been picked and are ready to sell!  Under the sign and at the side of the house, I added some leafy vines.

Before I started the background quilting, I again lightly drew in some of the branches using a regular pencil.  Someone asked whether I erase the pencil marks when I'm done.  The answer is that sometimes I will, but usually I don't.  Regular lead pencils are one of the marking tools I use for quilting, and they've always washed out easily for me.  With this quilt, I haven't decided yet whether I'll wash it or just hang it when I finish; if I don't wash it, I might go back and erase a few of the more obvious lines, but most of them are so light that by the time I've quilted over them, they aren't at all noticeable.

Someone also asked about the pattern.  Originally this was a free block of the month pattern posted on the Shabby Fabrics website in 2012, and it's no longer available there.  In the general directions posted in 2012, Jennifer Bosworth said she would make the pattern available for sale beginning around June of 2013, so if you're interested, check the website periodically or contact the shop to find out when the pattern will be available.

The other thing I was thinking about tonight--did you by any chance read JoAnne's post about her friend Freda's idea for using a wire mesh caddy from Target to hold quilting tools and things on top of the table?  Both of them bought one and are using them to store all sorts of rulers and gadgets.  Well, I like cute stuff that can be used to store other stuff and I was tempted, but I already have places to store the things I like to keep within reach and all of that's working for me just fine.  BUT, I didn't have one of these . . .

. . . until tonight.  When I was grocery shopping at Safeway, they had a couple of these holding bags of onions in the produce section, and I found a couple more of a slightly different style--with a longer, narrower "bed" made of solid wood rather than the fence pickets--in the floral/seasonal display area.  AND they were all on sale.  So after considering both, I decided the picket fence look was more "me" and I figured it would fit better in my space, so I rearranged the onion display and made room in my shopping cart for my new "bike."  My thought is that the bed of the bicycle might hold precuts like jelly rolls, etc.  Space is limited in the Sweat Shop, though, so I'll have to give it a little thought and decide how best to utilize it, but I'm sure it can assume a decorative AND productive role in my life.  I think I might need to paint the wooden pickets white--maybe a whitewash type of finish.  I'll be sure to show you what I decide to do to it and what I end up using it for.  Right now, Hubby and I have a bet about how long it will take our cat Spike to try to sit in it.  I hope she waits until we're around to watch.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Two More . . .

. . . of the 12 Country Cottages squares are now quilted.  First, there's blustery November with its swirling leaves:

And then there's June . . . .

Here in California, the weather in June usually isn't all that breezy, but since the block design included a kite, I imagined there must be a pretty good wind in the countryside of Jennifer Bosworth's Country Cottage design.

I used a pencil to lightly draw the swirls in the November sky so I could get fairly uniform coverage with loops in all the open spaces, but I was able to make June's breezy air without marking it first.  Now, I wonder what months will be next?

Monday, June 24, 2013

It's a Start . . .

I've finally begun quilting the Country Cottages quilt.  I needed to do a little mall shopping today, so I didn't get to devote the whole day to quilting, but at least I was able to get it started.  In case you didn't follow this BOM by Jennifer Bosworth at Shabby Fabrics, I should tell you that she designed each block to represent a specific month.  The blocks are set three across by four down, and I'm starting the quilting by going down the center blocks.  The first block I'll show you is February.

My idea is to quilt the background of each block a little differently and to try to interpret the month in the background quilting.  In February, the winds still swirl, so I quilted a swirly pattern in the sky with some grass along the bottom.

Next is May's block:

May has flowers quilted in the bottom part of the background and just a little bit of wind movement in the sky.

Finally, we have August.

August is hot and the sun shines down.  Here's a last photo of all three blocks.  Funny how the flash seems to have hit the sun!

The last block in this row is November.  I hope to get to that one tomorrow night and I'll show you if I do.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Scrap Basket Sunday

Okay, who's in the scrappy pool this week?  I am, I am!  Here are my four scrappy blocks:

The blocks I'm working on are for the Pie in the Sky quilt by Kim Diehl in her book Simple Graces.  Here's a picture of the quilt from the book:

Judy sent me a photo of one she saw in a vendor's booth at a quilt show in Petoskey, Michigan:

I'm excited to finish my blocks, but I still have 12 more to make, so it will be another few weeks.  In the meantime, I was "talking" to Sandy from Northern California.  Sandy has been playing with her scraps to make another one of Kim Diehl's patterns that was recently printed in the March/April issue of Fons & Porter magazine--it's called Sprigs and Twigs.  Here's a photo from the magazine:

I think this one might be in my scrappy future too, but who knows when?  Too many quilts and not enough time!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

At Last, The Weekend!

The weekend is here, and I'm SOOOOO looking forward to sleeping in on Saturday.  Friday morning I jolted awake a few minutes before the alarm was set to go off, and I had that horrible panicked feeling I had overslept.  Luckily, it wasn't the case.  Now I think I'm going to try to relax and have a lazy weekend--the last several seem to have been filled with friends, family, social gatherings, and all those "have to get dones."  And while I love all that, I DO need a couple days of doing nothing much but hanging around the house every now and then.

Well, first things first--you probably want to know who won the Summer Picnic tablerunner pattern by Monice Moffat, right?  I have a few different ways I pick the winner of this type of giveaway.  Sometimes I'll ask Hubby for a number, sometimes I'll think of a number myself, sometimes I'll decide the winner is the person in the absolute middle of the entries, and sometimes it's the random number generator that decides.  This time it was the random number generator, and it picked number 27.  Number 27 on my list of entries is Anna of the Woolie Mammoth.  Anna, please email me your address, and I'll put the pattern in the mail to you.  Thank you again, Monice, for your generosity!  By the way, I've decided I'm going to start on my Summer Picnic quilt top soon.  I'll show you my progress as I go because I know some of you have the pattern and will be interested in watching.

Now it's time for Scrap Basket Sunday sign ups.  You all know what to do, right?  I hope you'll join us this week!

Friday, June 21, 2013

I Guess I Must Be Hungry . . .

That's what I said to the checker at Trader Joe's tonight as I pushed my nearly-full cart up to the register.  The woman ahead of me, who had just finished paying for her groceries, turned to look at me and laughed.  "It's very dangerous to shop when you're hungry," she cautioned, but of course I knew that.  Still, what's a person to do when the shopping needs to be done on a week night, and the most convenient store to stop at happens to be on the way home from work?

Sometimes shopping for groceries is just a boring but necessary chore.  Sometimes it seems more like an adventure, and tonight's trip was one of the more inspirational ones.  Everything looked good, and there were SO MANY foods available to spark the culinary imagination.  No wonder my cart was packed!

Driving home from the shopping trip, I thought about the past.  When I was a child, food and its preparation were central to our family experience.  My father's people came from Italy and his parents were the first generation born in America.  When my grandmother and grandfather spoke to one another, chances were very good that their conversations would be peppered with words in Italian--they would alternate back and forth between English and Italian, particularly if they wanted to say something they didn't want little ears to understand.  Every Friday, whenever they could make it, my father and his three brothers would gather at my grandmother's table for the midday meal.  Sometimes all four would be there, and sometimes it might just be one or two, but a hearty Italian meal at midday on Friday was a family tradition up until the time my grandmother was no longer able to cook.  I remember my uncle Charlie, a cop, would walk in dressed in uniform, and the first thing he did each time was to unholster his gun and reach up to put it waaaaay back on the top shelf of the coat closet, out of harm's way.  "It's not a toy," he would tell us, refusing to let us get any closer for a good look.  Some years later--and I guess I was a teenager then--my uncle Charlie killed himself.  Isn't it funny that my most enduring memories of him were at those Friday meals?

In the old Italian households, a wedge of good Parmesan cheese was prized.  A trip to replenish the supply was a momentous occasion.  I remember going downtown with my grandfather, walking down the street hand in hand.  We would turn into a shop where he would loudly greet the man behind the glass fronted deli case with the Italian equivalent of "hale fellow well met."  After the initial greetings, they very seriously got down to discussing the relative merits of the different types of Parmesan cheese available and the cost of each before my grandfather made his choice.  Soon, he would reach across the counter to take possession of a parcel of Parmesan cheese wrapped up in brown paper and tied with twine.  Mission accomplished at last, we would retrace our steps to wherever grandfather had parked his Cadillac and head home to bring my grandmother the gift of the best Parmesan cheese wedge my grandfather could afford.

My mother's people were a mix of French and English.  My grandfather on my mother's side was born in France and was destined for priesthood until he decided to run away and take a job on a cargo ship bound for America.  That grandfather died of cancer before I turned a year old.  My grandmother on my mother's side was not nearly the cook my other grandmother was.  Still, she DID make an excellent applesauce cake--something we looked forward to at Christmas time each year.  Her other favorite dish--one she made and gave to people every now and then, whenever the occasion warranted--was tamale pie.  I never did like it--it was always bland and mushy.  My mother didn't like it either.  Is it any wonder, then, that my mother turned away from her family's culinary roots and learned to cook Italian?

Growing up, I, too, learned to make my family's favorite Italian recipes, and I particularly recall working with two essential tools:  a wooden bowl with a curved chopping blade that we used for chopping parsley and green onions, and a grater/grinder that we used for grating cheese and making bread crumbs.  Long ago, that wooden bowl cracked and has not been satisfactorily replaced, but I still have the grater/grinder.

Functionally, both of those tools became obsolete once the modern food processor came along.  But somehow the meals don't taste quite as good now, whether it's the quality of the food, the fact I no longer use the old tools, or simply the lack of ceremony and tradition that was served up along with those past family meals.  And, of course, we're missing those people who are no longer with us.  But no matter what the present holds, gripping that old grater/grinder in my hand reminds me of my culinary heritage and the people who passed it on to me.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Sidetracked by Scraps

After I made the block for Thimbleberries the other night, I started messing around with the scraps leftover from that block; as is typical for me, when I made the flying geese star points, I made small half-square triangles out of the leftovers and then I felt I needed to do something with them.  Well, the goofy thing is that playing around with those leftover scraps sucked up two evenings in the Sweat Shop.  I did finally end up with a small wallhanging quilt top, although it still needs to be quilted and bound.

While I was working on this, I remembered that some quilting acquaintances of mine participated in a different sort of round robin awhile back where instead of adding borders to the center quilt starts, each person who got the quilts was supposed to cut through what already existed and add something to it.  Their quilts turned out pretty interesting, so when I started thinking my star center was looking kind of boring, I decided to add a few slices and splices.  I think the checkerboard border is a little too traditional for the unusual, asymetrical center but it's okay, I think.  At least I was able to use up a few more scraps and experiment a bit--because sometimes it's fun to push the traditional quilting boundaries, isn't it?  And doing it with leftover scraps makes it fairly painless if something doesn't turn out quite right!

If this particular slice and splice idea looks like something you'd like to try, I cut the red strips at 1", so when the block was cut and the red strips were sewn back in, it remained the same size with the same underlying pattern.  Those other quilts I saw from the round robin had a lot of pieced strips added in as well as a curved line or two and some applique.  Try something different this week and see what happens!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

I Was Holding Out On You

I'm sure you'll remember Monice and Hen House Designs, and how generous she was go give me two of her Summer Picnic quilt patterns to give away, right?  Well, what I didn't tell you then was that she gave me a Summer Picnic table runner pattern to give away too.  I wanted to prolong the fun, so I held out for a week or two.  She designed this pattern to use wool for the applique, and it looks fantastic in wool as you can see below, but I'm sure if you have an aversion to wool but a knowledge of standard applique techniques, you could convert the pattern to use cotton.

Here's a photo of Monice's runner:

It's a heck of a lot prettier than the bad photo I took of the pattern with too much flash!

If you would like a chance to win the tablerunner pattern, leave me a comment saying you'd love to win and want to be entered.  And if you'd like to visit Monice's Etsy Shop, click HERE.  Unfortunately, I do not have a free copy of her Whimsical Hearts and Tulips pattern to give away, so you just might want to go ahead and purchase it.  It's a beauty, isn't it?

And no, this quilt isn't mine--I just stole the photo from Monice's Etsy shop; hopefully she won't mind!

I'll draw a winner Friday night and announce the winner on my Saturday blog post, so make sure you come back to check!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Not Bad for a Monday

I hadn't talked about it too much, but I've been working for two of our new attorneys since December (the first started in late October; the second began in early December).  Most of the time since then, I've worked long days, putting in about an hour and a half of overtime each day.  That kind of work makes for a pretty decent paycheck but doesn't mean much time for quilting . . . but then this tired quilter didn't feel too much like quilting on some of those long days anyway!  Still, I've been grateful to be a quilter, because whenever I came home from work feeling stressed and a bit like a hampster in a wheel, I'd go into the Sweat Shop; we all know that quilting therapy is better than bathing in Calgon, right?!

Since I've been with the firm for so long, the people who make the staffing decisions like to put me with new attorneys so I can show them what we do and how we do it--the type of law we practice is somewhat specialized, and so many of the attorneys who come to us don't have a background in our field of law.  I know what's available and I can help them as far as information and where to find forms used within the firm, I can advise them on firm policy, and I can show them what to do in different file-handling situations.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, one of our secretaries accepted another position out of state, and so the firm asked if I wanted to work for her attorney and pass my two on to other secretaries. Well, of course I did!  So I started working for him last week; I'm also transitioning one of my "old" attorneys to a new-to-our-firm secretary, which involves a little bit of mentoring but doesn't require nearly as much of my time as working for the attorney did.  (The other "old" attorney is now working with someone who has been with us for several years so I was able to hand him off without any real follow up needed.)

The attorney I'm working with now has been with us for a year and had several years of experience in criminal law before he came to us (we do civil law).  So there are still some things I can help him with in our practice, but the work is a little less stressful, and there's only ONE attorney instead of two.  So tonight, a week into this new assignment, I was able to get off work at a normal time, and it felt a little like being let out of school early!

Once I got home and had dinner with Hubby, I headed into the Sweat Shop for a little more scrap play--this time with my Thimbleberries scraps and the July block for the BOM my Thimbleberries Club has been working on:

This is the first Thimbleberries BOM Lynette Jensen designed.  It's a sampler called Month by Month and the pattern can be found in the Thimbleberries Big Book of Quilt Blocks.  I don't think I want to set the blocks as they originally were set--three across by four down with different colored sashing between the blocks--but I'm not sure how I'll decide to set them.  I'll have to play with them and experiment once the blocks are done.

Since my long work days look like they're a thing of the past, at least for now, I hope to be able to get a few more things done in the evening, or at least get to bed at a decent hour!  Speaking of which, I think I'll head that way now . . . .

Monday, June 17, 2013


I hope your family had an enjoyable Father's Day.  I escaped to the Sweat Shop a couple times throughout the day but mostly I spent time doing this and that and cooking for my Hubby.  Soccer Son and I made a nice dinner; Soccer Son manned the barbecue and I produced the side dishes.  I actually tried to make Hubby a nice breakfast too, but the dish I made didn't quite turn out right; still, he ate it and said it tasted pretty good to him even if I did overcook it a little bit.  What a sweetie!

Most of the time, Hubby and I don't exchange gifts on holidays and birthdays--nothing big, anyway.  But for Father's Day I gave him a Kindle Fire, just like the one he bought me for Christmas the year before last.  Now when we go on our cruise to Alaska, we'll each have plenty of reading material without having to pack a bunch of books and magazines.

Although my sewing time was limited today, just before it was time to shut everything down for the night, I finished the Dulcinea Schnibbles quilt top:

I like this one!  I'm looking forward to quilting it too--it would be nice to have it done before the 4th of July, wouldn't it?  I have a couple of small piecing projects and then I'll see if I can get it pin basted and quilted.  Now it's time to head to bed--it's back to work in the morning.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day

To all the dads out there . . . this is my favorite classic ode to dad:

And here are my four scrappy blocks from this week. I checked my binder where I'm keeping the blocks--I thought I was probably getting close to done. Nope, I still have about four weeks' worth to make!

How about you? Did you have a chance to play with scraps?

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Can You Come Out To Play?

I realize Sunday is Father's Day and many of us will be busy celebrating with our hubbies (cooking stuff for the BBQ and cleaning up afterward while he dozes in the recliner), so perhaps you won't be able to participate in Scrap Basket Sunday.  Or maybe you'll have a little time while he does something extremely manly that us girls can't (don't want to) do.  If it turns out that you're able to work on a scrappy project after all, please take a photo or two for your blog and add your blog link to Mister Linky.

A friend asked me a couple weeks ago why she had to keep signing up every week, and I told her that Scrap Basket Sunday is more of a drop-in program rather than a life-time commitment.  Participate when you're able and if you don't have something to show one week, there's no penalty--just don't add your name to the link list.  And join in anytime--if you haven't played with us so far, you're always welcome to join whenever you have something.  The idea is that if each of us shows what scrappy project we're involved in, other quilters who might have more scraps than ideas about what to do with them could find that perfect project.  I know I've found a couple "want to make" patterns.  I love the string quilts, so those are high on my list, and I find this block pattern kind of compelling too:

So link when you can if you're just a spordic scrapper, or keep coming back to link every week if you're prolific--all scrappers are welcome!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Ready to Move On . . .

Okay, the blocks for Dulcinea are DONE!  This last batch of six seemed to go a little quicker--maybe I just finally got the hang of it.  Sinta of Pink Pincushion, one of the Schnibbles hostesses, said she didn't trim up the blocks and hers went quickly.  Each block is made up of four sections, and each section has a larger triangle--the large arm of the pinwheel--and two smaller triangles that look like the background of the pinwheel and an inner section that forms a box in the background--or part of a smaller pinwheel depending on how you look at it.  I think you can see it in my blocks below:

The part that makes the large pinwheel is bigger than the part made up of the two smaller triangles, so I was trying to figure out how Sinta sewed her pieces together without trimming.  What I finally decided was that you could line up the outer corner and right angled edges of both pieces and sew along the diagonal seam line using the smaller (two triangle) section as basis for where to sew the seam.  Your seam allowance would be much larger on the large pinwheel arm side, but that could be quickly trimmed just before pressing open.  So, I don't know if that's what Sinta did, but it's a possibility.  The blocks would turn out a bit larger, but if you change the border to one that's not pieced, it wouldn't matter.  And if your blocks turned out a little wonky and didn't match up quite precisely, you could add some sashing to separate them.

I wish I'd thought of this in time to take a photo or two to show you what I'm talking about because if you're like me, you probably don't have any idea what I'm talking about unless you have a visual reference.  Oh, well.  If you're making this quilt and want a speedy finish, cut the large triangles and then cut and sew the two smaller triangles.  Then read my suggestion again--maybe it will make sense.  Because I'd sure be happy if I could save someone a little time!

Next I'll sew my blocks together and add the outer sashing, then the pieced border.  Easy peasy, right?  Well, that's what I thought about the blocks before I started!  But I like the way this looks so far, so it's worth the trouble to make it--and really, it's simple enough.  And, of course, I didn't get interested in quilting in the first place because it was FAST!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Little Something Else

Another evening of Dulcinea blocks and only four more added to the design wall to show for my efforts.  For some reason, I was a little distracted, which meant I was working a bit sporadically between recesses on the internet--and internet browsing wasn't even for the purpose of looking at anything creative!  No, it had more to do with friends and work and various contacts I wanted to check on.  Do you ever have evenings like that where you just can't settle to the task at hand?  Normally sewing is my relaxation and escape, but for some reason, tonight it just gave my mind a chance to skip from one thing to another.  I hope I have a better result when I lay my head on my pillow tonight, or it's going to be a long night of insomnia--and that's something that rarely happens to me.

I DO have a little something I hadn't shown you yet, though.  Remember that crazy hot day last Saturday when I tortured my poor friends with a non-airconditioned lunch and shopping excursion?  Well during our limited stitchery time that day, I started on the June sheep blanket.  Giving myself the task of making up kits for my friends each month means I feel I have to complete the monthly blanket myself, so I can show them where I used the different colors of wool in the kits--that's kept me current on at least one of my projects!

I think the colors in the blanket are a little deeper than in the photo.  For some reason, these never seem to photograph all that well--maybe it's all that white in the sheep or something.  But I think June's blanket is awfully cute, don't you?

Oh, and no, I didn't get it finished during our limited time together on Saturday.  I worked on it later on Saturday night and again on Sunday before I started playing with scraps; I think I finished it then.  But tonight was our monthly Thimbleberries Club meeting, and most of my friends attended, so I brought the sheep and blanket for show and tell so they could see how it turned out and know what theirs will look like once they finish.

It's back to Dulcinea for me tomorrow night--maybe I'll be able to finish the blocks then.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Slow, Too!

If you're like me and you're participating in making the monthly "vintage" Schnibbles quilts, you might not want to wait until the last day of the month this time.  Or maybe you're faster than I am.  But tonight it took me two or three hours just to make six of the Dulcinea blocks--after I already had the fabric cut!

They look pretty good so far, I think.

But I still have ten more to make--that's at least another three to four hours, and that doesn't even include the time to make the pieced border.  I really didn't think it would take this long, but there's a lot of trimming up to do on these pinwheel blocks, and that's the part that is taking me some time.

I'll admit I probably could have gotten two more done tonight if I wasn't sidetracked before I even got started.  Have you seen this tablerunner pattern?

I'm such a sucker for red, white, and blue, aren't I?  The pattern is in the August 2013 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting.

While Hubby and I were having dinner (and he was watching a World Cup qualifying soccer match), I realized I had a couple quilt magazines I hadn't paged through yet, so right after we were done, I did a quick look-see.  Well, maybe not all THAT quick, but I tried not to linger too long.  Now I'm thinking about making that runner--I know I have some scrappy strips of red and white that have been in my stash forever!  I'll see if I can find some time to play with them--I don't think it will take too long.  But then what do I know?  I didn't think Dulcinea would take too long either!

JEANIE from San Jose left a comment on my Autumn House post, and I wanted to email her back, but she's "no reply."  Jeanie, if you read this, please click on my profile and email me directly so I can respond to your question about block 7.

"See" you all tomorrow, and happy quilting!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Just Lazy, I Guess

When I went into the Sweat Shop tonight I considered beginning the quilting on the County Cottages quilt, but that would have meant unplugging the Bernina, carrying it to a place on the floor where I won't stub a toe on it, picking up the Juki and power lifting it up onto the table, and hooking up the foot pedal and electricity.  Lord, I'm tired just thinking about it, aren't you?!  And I'd probably end up throwing my back out in the process!

So I thought I'd just cut fabric for the Schnibbles Dulcinea quilt instead.

Remember that bag of Minick & Simpson scraps I found in the scrap bin?  I ended up having to add a fair amount to what I had, but I knew I had a several--more than several really--fat quarters in my stash I could use, and I still have a lot of scraps leftover for the border--I didn't get that part cut yet.  But I DO have the pieces cut for the 16 blocks.  And I didn't even strain myself doing it.

I'll probably get a few of these blocks put together tomorrow night to show you.  Unless my vitamins kick in and I decide to do a weight sewing machine lifting work out.

Nah!  I don't think so.

Monday, June 10, 2013


I had such a nice, relaxing day in the Sweat Shop on Sunday.  It's been a few weeks since I had a day with no demands or chores that absolutely HAD to be done.  In fact, on Sunday I never did change out of my jammies or do much more than run a wash cloth over my face and drag a comb through my hair!

After I finished my four scrappy blocks that I'll show you next week (and, by the way, I checked--four more weeks worth of blocks still to make, so I'm not THAT close yet), I pulled out my almost-done Autumn House quilt and finished the borders.  Want to see it?

This is a Bunny Hill pattern; you may remember that last year, three of my stitchery friends and I worked on it as a block of the month project.  Between the four of us, we collected most of the fabrics that were used in the original quilt.  That was quite a feat since the quilt was several years old.  Using "original" fabrics isn't something I normally care very much about, but it was fun to do with this quilt and kind of a challenge to track the fabrics down.

Each month, we'd gather at someone's house and cut "kits" for each of us.  When we didn't have the "original" fabric, we'd audition substitute fabrics and sometimes we'd make different choices, so each of our quilts is a little bit different from the others.  I think my three friends finished the quilt top before I did and at least one of them has been sent out to be quilted, but I don't think any of them are totally completed yet.  I hope, though, that we'll all have them done and hung once autumn rolls around.

Sadly the weekend's over and staying holed up in the Sweat Shop with my jammies on isn't an option for the next few days.  I hope you had a lovely weekend too!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Scrap Basket Sunday

Oh, I'm so glad I can stay at home today and play with scraps in the air conditioned house!  Yesterday my stitchery friends, all six of us, met at my house for breakfast on the patio at around 10:30, and it was already miserably hot out.  After eating, we moved inside and crowded around the kitchen table in my small kitchen, stitching until it was time to leave for a little shopping followed by our lunch reservations at the High Hand Conservatory.  Did I take photos?  No, I think my brain had melted from the heat.  Because what I hadn't realized when I planned the day was that the former fruit drying sheds and the conservatory we visited were not air conditioned, and our temperatures reached 108 on Saturday afternoon.  After lunch, we visited nearby Newcastle where we stopped at a couple more non-air conditioned shops.  On the way back home, we stopped for soft serve ice cream cones where the ice cream melted quicker than we could eat it.  All I can say is that it was probably a very good thing our shopping was done, because a few of us were WEARING more ice cream than we'd eaten!  We were so happy to get back to my house and the air conditioning, even if it meant crowding around the kitchen table again!  Still, we all enjoyed the day just because we could be with one another--friends are the BEST, aren't they?!

Here are this week's scrappy blocks.  The other day when I was rummaging around my larger scrap bin, I pulled out a few more scraps to supplement the scraps in the basket--now it's full again!  I'd better get busy and make more blocks.  I wonder how many more I need for the Pie in the Sky quilt I'm working on?  When I started making blocks, I kept them wrapped around a cardboard roll, but they soon became too bulky, so I transferred them to clear plastic protector sleeves--the kind that hold paper in a binder--two to a sleeve.  I placed enough empty sleeves in a binder so that when the sleeves are full, I'll have enough blocks to make the quilt.  I know there are many more full sleeves than there are empty ones, so maybe I'm getting close!  How about you?  Are you joining us this week with a scrappy project to share?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Hot, Hot, Hot!

Can you believe it's supposed to be 108 degrees here in Sacramento today?  Yikes!  And on top of that, I'm hosting my stitchery group here at my house . . . where nowhere in my house is large enough to hold six women with their sewing supplies.  So, we have to gather out on the patio, BUT . . . once it gets too hot, and seriously that might be by the time they first arrive at 10 a.m., we'll load up the cars and head out--I have a surprise outing planned that shouldn't be too bad except when we have to get in and out of cars.  And I think that although we'll probably be miserable temperature-wise, we'll still have a good time together.  I'll try to remember to bring my camera.  (I sure hope nothing significant melts, except maybe a little cellulite!)

I'm looking forward to staying inside my air conditioned home on Sunday, holed up in the Sweat Shop, playing with scraps.  How about you?  Are you ready to sign up to invite us over to see what scrappy wonderfulness you've created and posted?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Thank You, Monice!

I know you remember Monice Moffat's Summer Picnic Quilt Pattern, right?  Quite a lot of you said you love the pattern as much as I do--and a couple of you thought this photo was my quilt.  Sadly, I haven't made mine yet--this is Monice's version.  But maybe some of us can work on the quilt together . . . well, maybe not PHYSICALLY together, but at the same time.  You know what I mean, right?  I'm not quite ready to start mine yet, but I'd sure like to start it soon!

So here's the really nice thing:  About 60 of you wanted to be entered in the drawing, and Monice was kind enough to give me TWO patterns to give away, which made the chances of winning slightly better.  The other nice thing is that if you didn't win but you still want the pattern, you can pop over to her Etsy shop and order it HERE.  And did you see her wool table runner pattern of a similar design?

That's in her shop too--AND she has a kit available if that's what you prefer.  (Personally, I think I'd also like the tractor to model it on!)

Ah!  But I bet you're wondering who the two lucky winners are, right?

Well, Shirley, who apparently doesn't have a blog, said, "I love patriotic patterns and Summer Picnic is just perfect! Hello Monice--your patterns are lovely!! Thanks for the giveaway."

. . . and . . . Frankie, who also doesn't have a blog, said, "I love this quilt! It's right up my alley . . . I love patriotic stuff! Thanks for the link to Monice's Etsy shop -- I'm pretty sure I need a couple of patterns. :D"

So Shirley and Frankie, click on my profile and privately email me your mailing addresses and I'll get these out in the mail to you--probably on Monday unless I haven't heard from you by then.

Oh, and in case you missed it:  Gloria posted a comment that she had purchased a pattern from Monice's Etsy shop and heard Monice is designing a pattern with a fall theme--I can hardly wait to see it!  Thanks, everyone, for playing along and encouraging Monice in her pattern designs--we're sure to see more good things from her.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Just a Couple Things . . .

First, if you haven't stopped by for a few days, you will probably want to scroll down a couple posts and check out the quilt pattern by Hen House Designs/Monice Moffat.  She's given me a pattern to give away to one of you and there's a link to her Etsy shop you might also be interested in if her style appeals to you as much as it does to me!

When I quilt, I always have the TV on something, and much of the time, it's just background "noise" more or less.  And I'll watch just about everything, but I never thought I'd get into anything "redneck," "cars," or "swamp" related . . . until now.  Now I'm oddly hooked on Duck Dynasty.  Tonight, for instance, I found it hard to pull myself away from Willie, Jase, and Si.  There was some sort of Duck Dynasty marathon--and it didn't matter whether the episodes were ones I'd seen before or ones I hadn't seen.  If I didn't have to go to work in the morning, I'd still be watching.  How about you?  Have you seen Duck Dynasty?

I wanted to pass on this idea someone had mentioned to me some years ago--you may or may not already be aware of it, but just in case . . . .  You can purchase adjustable magnetic curtain rods and use them to hang quilts on metal doors, the refrigerator, a dishwasher, etc.  I was told they were available at WalMart and that's where I found mine but I suspect other stores carry them.  (This is the door from the kitchen to the garage.)  It's nice to be able to decorate a door with a small quilt.  When I first brought it home, Hubby thought the rod would fall off the door when it opened and closed; it's always a point of satisfaction when his doom and gloom predictions don't pan out!  So far, so good!

Florence left me a comment saying she always makes just as many blocks as she needs for a project and she's surprised when I make little projects like the patriotic mug mat from random blocks and half square triangles, so I thought I'd explain.  Sometimes when I'm playing around with a design idea, something won't turn out right--or even when it's not my own design, after I get some blocks and sashing up on the design wall, I'll decide a color or pattern just doesn't look like I expected.  So I start again and end up with some stray blocks to play with.  That doesn't happen very often though.  What DOES happen a fair amount is that I seem to make a lot of flying geese blocks and I like the method where you sew squares on the diagonal to a background piece and fold the corners back, then trim away the underneath layers.  If I'm feeling kind of frugal, I'll sew a second seam, so when I trim away the excess layers, I trim between the two seam lines.  The "discarded" pieces then form "extra" half square triangles.  If I'm sewing flying geese where those side squares measure 2-1/2", I can usually trim the half square triangles to measure 1-3/4" or even larger.  It doesn't seem to take very much more time except the trimming part, and I usually work on trimming when I've finished whatever my main project for the evening was, but Duck Dynasty isn't quite over yet.  Hey!  Win, win, right?  That's what I thought.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


I've been doing some spring cleaning and summer decorating lately, so I haven't had very much time for sewing.  The other day, though, I was going through sewing withdrawals and needing a little break, so I pulled out a handful of red and white half square triangles that were left over from another project.  They all had the same cream with a small blue dot background fabric, so I went hunting in my rather large scrap drawer to see if I could find a scrap of that fabric large enough to make something with.  Sure enough, I found a couple small pieces and I ended up with this summer time mug mat--

But the really fun thing is that when I was rummaging through my scrap drawer, I found this bag of red, white, and blue fabrics leftover from an earlier project--treasure!

Wouldn't these scraps be excellent for this month's Schnibbles pattern, Dulcinea?  If this isn't enough, I'm sure I have more fat quarters in my stash I can add to these scraps--and probably more scraps in the scrap drawer, for that matter; or I can make a smaller quilt which probably wouldn't be a bad idea either!

I thought I'd take a couple photos of the summer decorating I've done in my kitchen; I ordered a lighted garland to go across the top of the hutch, but it hasn't come yet.

It's hard to believe that June is here already, isn't it?  I wanted to put out my red, white, and blue things before Memorial Day but I never got around to it.  At least I'll be ready for Flag Day . . . I think!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Hen House Designs

Do you remember when I told you about this quilt pattern I'd found on eBay?  It's called Summer Picnic.

I asked blog readers if anyone knew about the pattern company, Hen House Designs, and the only thing any of us could find was a quilt shop with a similar name.  Well, let me tell you the rest of the story.

When my pattern arrived, the back of the pattern contained the name of the designer, Monice Moffat, and her email address.  I emailed Monice to tell her how much I liked her pattern and to find out what other patterns she's designed and where I could find them; that began an email exchange between us.

I learned that Monice has an Etsy shop, Nana's Hen House.  If you click on the shop name, it will take you to her shop where you'll see she has a couple of different pattern designs.  She has a beautiful tulip pattern called Whimsical Hearts and Tulips, a table runner pattern called Folk Art Flower Basket, Summer Picnic, and a brand new tablerunner pattern that's similar to the Summer Picnic quilt above, but it's a runner and she's done it in wool.  She even has a couple kits listed if you're interested.

But here's the really cool thing:  Monice was kind enough to send me a Summer Picnic pattern, like the one I bought, that I could give away to one of you.  Isn't that really nice?!  Please leave me a comment saying you'd like to be in the drawing and I'll enter your name.  I'll draw a winner Thursday night to be posted on Friday's blog post, so remember to come back to see if you've won.  And say hi to Monice in your comment, if you'd like--I think she might check in on us at some point.  Thank you, Monice, for your generosity!

Monday, June 3, 2013

More Scrap Play

I've had things I've wanted/needed to get done around the house this past weekend, but I still wanted/needed a little play time in the Sweat Shop (all work and no play is not a good thing), so on Sunday I pulled out a box of Thimbleberries scrappy half square triangles and decided another little patriotic project was the perfect thing to play around with.

Originally I planned on a mini quilt with diagonal stripes, but as I started to sew the pieces together, I decided to change the pattern up a little.  Here's what I ended up with:

The finished size is 13 inches--a nice little mini to tuck here or there for a bit of punch or accent.  Even the binding is scrappy!

Sunday, June 2, 2013


Fist bump!  Woo-hoo!  I managed to make four scrappy blocks in time for show and tell!

I was afraid I wouldn't get them done in time, and in fact, I'm a little later than normal posting tonight, but that's okay.  After all, I couldn't NOT have scrappy blocks to show at my own scrap party!  How about you?  Did you sign up on yesterday's Mister Linky to share photos of what you've been working on?  I'm looking forward to visiting everyone to see what's new.

I think I might need to make a string quilt for my next scrappy project.  In visiting Scrap Basket Sunday quilters, I've seen several and they are all great!  Do you have a favorite scrap pattern you've made or maybe one that's still on your "to do" list?

Saturday, June 1, 2013


No, that's not what I meant!  I just thought I'd mention that I've been trying to CATCH UP on my normal routine after being away last weekend.  Tonight I visited the bloggers who signed up for the Scrap Basket Sunday show and tell last week, and I have to say everyone's doing some fun and/or pretty things with their scraps.  And, since I was away last weekend, I didn't make any blocks to show tomorrow, but maybe I'll get busy with those . . . or something else scrappy . . . or maybe I'll just be a guilty quilty slacker this week.  It happens.  Except not to some of you--and I'm sure the industrious quilters among you are ready with some new scrappy projects to show, right?  So here's the Mr. Linky sign up--hop on board the scrappy train just as soon as you're ready!