Tuesday, September 18, 2018

September is Flying

I guess as we get busier and older, we say that about every month.
I'm trying to get in lots of time outdoors because I am always enchanted by the change of seasons.
This has been happening all along the southern shoreline of Lake Erie -- Monarch butterflies migrating!  Those delicate little things fly across the lake which is 57 miles across at the widest point.  We had a spell of very rainy weather and they do the sensible thing and just shut down the trip and wait out the weather -- the picture below was taken on a drizzly afternoon so the quality of the picture is not great, but look at all those butterflies!! 
Those aren't dead leaves!
A couple days later when the sun reappeared, things thinned out a bit, but they still mob up to rest in the sunshine after the lake crossing.  One fellow watching at the Ohio/Pennsylvania state line counted over 1000 of them coming off the lake in an hour this past Saturday morning.   
I found this large patch of flowers in the middle of an industrial park and it was literally covered with nectaring monarchs -- to stand in the middle of that patch and have two dozen butterflies fluttering around me was too wonderful!!
I've been sewing, too -- everyday!
Half of my daughter's Mississippi Mud is quilted and the remaining two quarter sections are layered and ready to go!  You can't even tell where I joined the two sections, can you?
It's there on the right side where the batting has a slash.
I am meander quilting it and since I hate to bury threads, I've figured out how to traverse each star when I get to it.  Would you like to see how?
This series of pictures follows the path I take -- I meander to a point. . . .
. . . . then grab my ruler and trace the edge this far . . .  
. . . . down to the opposite point where I meander off the star, do a loop or two . . . 
  . . . . and back into the same point.
I travel across to the right and up to the point where I started -- half finished and no threads to bury!! 
Once I've meandered around the outside of the star, I arrive at the third point . . . .  
. . . . crossing to the fourth point . . .  
. . . . before returning to the third point. 
I literally have only had to bury a few threads when the bobbin runs out and that's a good thing!!
This quilt has been in the works for a long time.  My daughter started it around 2003 and lost interest several times in the piecing, so I have been doing a block here and there.  Now she will be moving into her own place this winter and it will be nice to have a brand new quilt!

Mississippi Mud is a pattern I wrote 25 years ago now and was tremendously popular with my customers and students.  It's still available as a PDF in my Etsy shop HERE.

I'll leave you with one last butterfly picture -- isn't this one a beauty??
It's the fall form of the Question Mark (I didn't know there was a fall form until I read my field guide to confirm the ID).
The silvery outline of the wings looked lavender in the sunlight.  These hibernate through the winter and emerge again in the spring to breed -- amazed again!
Enjoy the changing seasons!!

Mary

Linking up with Let's Be Social over at Sew Fresh Quilts this week?






Friday, August 31, 2018

The Temperature Quilts!!

My #onemonthlygoal for August was to finish the second of two "temperature" quilt tops!
And I did it -- just under the wire -- wahoo!!!

I looked back through this year's posts and see that I've only shared the start of the larger one which begins on my 70th birthday and documents the first year of my 8th decade -- oh, my gosh, 8th??
You can look back at that post HERE and read about my original plans and ideas.

I enjoyed the hand work of making these funky drunkards path blocks and watching the strips grow on the secondary design wall.
Once all of them were stitched, I fiddled around with the layout until I found a formula that used 377 squares without any odd balls -- that's 365 days plus 12 month markers. 
The round white dots are "full moons" which I watch carefully because I think they make me wierd.
Because I started on June 10 (my birthday) and ended one year later on June 9, all the cool colors are lumped together in the middle -- I'm not sure I like all the "hot" but it is what it is.
I added labels to the month markers and am still fiddling with softening them -- experimenting with fabric crayons.
I fell way behind on the second smaller one made from HST's so in July, I zeroed in on finishing that top (for the first year of my life).  I systematized my construction process so it would go more quickly.
With so many HST's to construct, I soon ran out of "leaders and enders" so pulled out a stack of six "Painted Trees" by @bluenickelstudio which I had cut during the spring.
As the blocks and strips from both projects started going up on the design wall, it struck me how compatible they were!?!  It occurred to me I might "merge" these two projects into one piece!!
So I began to experiment with ideas in a series of spontaneous work sessions.
Only two of the trees were really compatible with 1947/48 so I needed lots of filler!!
There's a little bird mug rug on my cutting table reminding me that I believe I've been birding since I was hatched.  The result?   A stack of little birds blocks.
The stack began to grow and then Marti Michell's new Small Flying Geese ruler arrived -- we must use it now!!  So I created that strip across the top using the twenty-some fabrics that represent the temperature range of the quilt.  And perhaps I could work the name of the piece into the border?
Wanting to finish by August 31, I rejected the idea of piecing the name and started experimenting with writing it out with permanent marker (didn't like my script) and printing it with the inkjet.
That worked -- first time!?!
If you've never tried this, I double starched the fabric, backed it with freezer paper, and cut it into an 8 1/2" by 11" sheet.  After the test print on paper, I went for it and it worked!!
This afternoon, everything came together!
Loving it!!!
The trees and the flock of birds is perfect!
My binding plan is to use the twenty-some fabrics of the temperature grid and the quilting plan is still in the thinking stage.  Plus I have to make a backing.
The top finished at 51" wide by 44" long.
95% of the fabric is from my stash -- yahoo!!
I'm linking with #onemonthlygoal over at Elm Street Quilts!!

Have a great weekend!
Mary









Monday, August 27, 2018

Staying in a Groove?

August has been such a "come and go" month for me that it's been a challenge to stay in my typical productive stitching groove.  Thank goodness for the portability and short seams of working with hexies and having an engaging knitting project going!!

I've been continuing to strive for making a weekly hexie flower as part of Naomi Clarke's (@naomialicec) #fussycuttingsewalong on Instagram.  This month's theme has been "travel" and it's been a tough one for me since I'm working with traditional reproduction prints for this project.
Upper left is a favorite travel destination -- formal gardens of any sort represented by the centered floral motifs.
Upper right is a "fail" as we were supposed to be plucking out a section of a travel motif and reassembling it in such a way to create a design -- after over a week of going through that (large) box of fabric, I caved and settled for "travel" -- it's the hare riding on the tortoise's back!
The lower one is cut from a map of Paris that I picked up several years ago and the center motif is Notre Dame -- my gosh, it's upside down in this picture?!?  It's another of those hexie flowers that recreates the fabric as printed.  When I visited Paris in 1968,  we stayed near Notre Dame so perhaps the street is on this map?

There is a master plan for all these motifs which is keeping me motivated!!
I am adding 1" diamonds to make each into 3" hexagons and after much searching (first in my stash and then via shopping), I found this soft green toile style print for the alternating setting triangles.

Back in July, I shared a glimpse of a large motif that will be the center of this plan!
I chose one of my favorite hexie motifs for the center and have been building up the large star gradually.  
Since I'm machine-piecing this quilt top using the "Set-In Piecing Simplified" technique which I teach, I made the six point sections as "leaders and enders" while working on other projects or just when I need to unwind with some repetitive stitching.
The sections are all labeled and I'm almost done attaching them to the center.  
Once that is done, I'll be able to figure out (for sure) how much background to add so that the finished star fits into my setting plan.  I've worked it out on paper, but am doubting my theory a bit . . . . . 
She sets a weekly theme and everyone makes one hexie a day to reflect that theme.
This set is from the "about you" week.
I bird (a lot), my favorite color is yellow, and I use more green in my piecing than any other color.
The week two theme was "summer" -- growing flowers and berries, enjoying insects, and feeding the hummingbirds!
The week three theme was "fantasy" and it stumped me at first.  Most are using unicorns and fairies and gnomes but since I'm stash-focused in my projects, I chose frogs in jaunty hats and cats that wear monocles and water the garden.
When the sew-along wraps up in early December, I should have enough 1 1/4" hexies to make another Nundle Dilly-bag, one of Brigitte Giblin's patterns that I've made before.
This week's theme is "cute critters" -- I hope I have a few more in my stash!

My  #crownwoolsmkal wrap is almost finished!!  I'm using up sock yarn leftovers -- think there are 9 different skeins.  It's almost 6 feet long at this point and I've enjoyed exploring new-to-me stitch combinations.  As I said last week when I posted this picture to my Instagram feed, I might look like I'm wrapped up in a lot of socks, but it's pretty and unique!
And the goal of reducing that stash has been reached -- now the remaining sock yarn fits in the (smallish) box with the lid closed!!
The neighbor children went back to school last week and I'm striving to hold onto the last days of summer.  There's a fresh basket of peaches on the kitchen shelf which hopefully will yield another pie this week.  Since I won't have the help of #tidysister on the left (she made the crust) and #funsister on the right (she helped peel), it will only be one pie and perhaps not home made crust?!?
Time to stitch!!
Mary









Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Winding down the Summer

Summers pass along so quickly.
I've released most of the Monarch butterfly horde that have been eating my milkweed patch!
There are still a few left and I'll take on a few more during August and September to hopefully boost the migratory generation of these amazing creatures.  Seems like it should be a good year for the Monarchs -- I've released close to 70 and a friend has released over twice that many.
Hopefully, we are having a good impact! 
There was a big family gathering for 3 days at the beginning of August of my crew and my three siblings with their families.
We are spread out all over the US so it's rare for us to be all together at the same time and it was a happy weekend -- nice to gather for something other than a funeral! 
Upon returning home, I got back to work on my version of the Bernina ZenChic Triangle Sew Along quilt.  Earlier this week, it was ready to trim and bind.
Do you save these trimmings?
Typically, I do . . . . but not this time -- too often they just sit in that basket in the corner of the studio taunting me.
I spread the trimmed quilt out on the grass -- not sure I should admit that my only empty flat surface is the back lawn?!?  My quilting has left the edges a bit wobbly, so I decided to block it before adding the binding. 
That meant the patio needed to be swept -- hard empty flat surface. 
Then I spread out a clean sheet and put the quilt face down on it. 
I covered it with wet beach towels. 
And then stomped the moisture from the towels into the quilt.
At the end of the afternoon, I lifted off the towels and let the quilt lay for a few more hours to be sure it was completely dry. 
Yesterday morning, I bound it!! 
And here it is!!
I participated in this sew along to gain a better understanding of "modern" quilt design. 
Now it will be interesting to see how the experience impacts my quiltmaking going forward. 
Will my fabric selections get simpler?
It was also good to move completely through a finished quilt in less than a year!!
So that makes one goal for the third quarter of the 2018 Finish Along crossed off the list!
On to the next one!!
It's an ancient UFO!!

Enjoy!!
Mary

And I'm still not seeing your comments come into my e-mail so thank you for taking the time to leave one,  I'm reading them!!



Wednesday, August 1, 2018

That does it for July!

And here comes August!
I'm just back from a teaching trip to the Baltimore, Maryland area.  
I delivered my favorite lecture -- UFQ Assault Tactics on Thursday morning and then taught an all-day workshop Saturday with 12 participants who worked their way through a large scrappy string pieced 8-pointed star.
It's always fun to see these blocks -- this rainbow one is unique
And Maria, the workshop organizer, banged out a total of 48 diamonds for a 6 block quilt!  She wouldn't quit string piecing until her pile of strips was exhausted!!
I spent Friday exploring the Eastern Shore of Maryland along the Chesapeake Bay -- okay, I went birding.  No new birds, but there were lots of butterflies to distract me including this teasing red-spotted purple.  It stayed in the brush so I just keep clicking the camera hoping for at least one good shot!
I had a nice walk in the shade of a "tunnel" of Osage Orange trees down an old lane to a deserted ferry landing.  I was interested to see the color of the wood of a freshly cut fallen tree. A unique yellow-orange.
The path led out to the edge of the bay and I puttered around at the water's edge for a while watching osprey and eagles fish and enjoying the peace and quiet.
It was a hot day but the light at the end of the tunnel kept me moving back towards my car where a cold tea was waiting!!
I finished knitting my #beekeepercardigan on the trip.  Since it was a stash of yarn I inherited from my mother, I ran out so did a search for more yarn only to discover not only is the yarn discontinued, but the company that made it is gone, too.  Even a search for re-sellers failed.
So I punted with a very, very close substitute and did all the ribbed bands using it.  It's a slightly darker shade of ecru but it's looks okay to me since it's consistently used throughout the sweater.
I did the scary "first time ever" blocking by myself last evening!!!  It looks yellow because the tub is in the basement -- poor lighting. 
Fortunately, Marie, the designer has a good tutorial on her blog and after reading it several times, I forged ahead.  
Currently its spread out on the front porch drying -- seems okay, but I won't relax until it's completely dry and I can lift it up.
Marie Greene of Olive Knits is the designer and I love her approach to knitting a sweater -- no seams!!  You can find her patterns and blog HERE!
No sooner had I finished the sweater knitting than I cast on for a mystery scarf knit along -- it's on Ravelry -- the Crown Wools MKAL and the designer is Casapinka.  Since I'm using an assortment of sock yarn leftovers, it isn't really like starting a new project -- it's more like cleaning up the yarn box!?!
It's a six week project and I'm a little behind but I'll catch up by the end of this week! 
Most of the Monarch caterpillars we have became chrysalis while I was away.
I counted 54 -- next week should be fun releasing all of them!!
One more short trip for a family reunion this weekend and I can get back into the studio!!
I miss working at my machine every day!!

Hope your August gets off on the right foot!!

Mary