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







Saturday, July 21, 2018

Summer Distractions!!

High summer is upon us here in Northeast Ohio!
It's a season of color, happy little discoveries, and comfortable memories.
These little blue flowers (I'm told it's a weed) grew alongside the back porch of my first childhood home and ever since I discovered them in my current home's garden, I allow them to grow where ever they appear just because they make me smile.
Suddenly on the 5th of July, I discovered Monarch butterflies were leaving eggs all over my backyard plot of milkweed so the new rearing enclosure that was a Christmas gift had to be quickly assembled!
Now my mornings begin with cleaning the enclosure, reviewing everyone's progress, and bringing in fresh food.  With close to 70 caterpillars at various stages and a few new finds almost everyday, it's a good hour or more of pleasant work.   I can't determine if all these eggs are the work of one female or several, but for about 5 days, every time I was outside, there was a Monarch in my yard -- such constant presence is new for me.  The females can lay 400 eggs and I'm pretty sure she did!!
Now at the 15 day point, I'm seeing a few new chrysalis every day and should be releasing butterflies by the end of July.   
These likely won't be the generation that makes the big migration to Mexico, but they will parent that generation so I'm excited to be able to release so many!  If you live in the area and would like to stop by and see all this in person, let me know!
Then there was the big "we got married" picnic that my son and his wife threw!!  Both families worked together to set up tents, mow the pasture, organize tables and coolers and lights.  My son (in the hat) and his "dude buds" smoked a whole hog, a local farm-to-table caterer did the sides . . . . 
. . . . . and I rounded up a load of flowers and a bevy of nieces to make the table bouquets!
In between all this enjoyment of summer outside, I got caught up in a knitting project!?! 
I discovered Marie Greene of Olive Knits this past winter -- her sweater designs are primarily knit top down and seamless -- my kind of knitting!!  She challenged anyone who was game to a 4 day sweater knit-along beginning July 1 with a new pattern, The Beekeeper's Cardigan.  During a tidy-up of my knitting supplies in mid-June, I re-discovered a bag of my mother's yarn -- enough for a sweater?  
I swatched to test my gauge and get a feel for the design.
You know where I'm going with this, don't you?
I did not finish in 4 days (but some gals did!?!) but if you follow my Instagam feed (@hueymary), you've seen progress photos.   This was the end of the two week knit-along -- I was at 44 hours at this point.  Today, I'm finishing the second sleeve and then will start the final ribbing bands. 
 It's been a delightful knit and I'm so pleased with the results.
I'll share a bit more about when I finish later this month!
I'm staying on my machine quilting schedule for the most part -- make steady progress every day -- though keeping tabs on this pot of "bush" cucumbers (they are now embracing the huge tomato plant in the adjacent pot) has been distracting.  It's behaving like a zucchini, hiding the fruit just under a leaf so that in spite of twice a day inspections, suddenly there's an almost too big fruit down there??
Then something has to be done with them -- refrigerator pickles this afternoon!
The black currants HAD to be harvested today -- I just have one bush so never enough to do anything significant.  This year, I'm going to try drying them like raisins -- should be either enough for a batch of scones (yum) or I'll use them for flavoring tea!
The drive to eliminate the invasive bindweed from this flower bed demands daily policing and on the morning tour four days ago, two cardinals flew out of the honeysuckle vine!  I looked more closely to see what bugs they have found on the vine -- they like big juicy bugs and can crack a beetle in a flash but no bugs!!  
They have built a nest!!
It's hard to see -- just a sloppy looking clump of grass and sticks right in the center of the picture that hopefully will last long enough to fledge their brood!
When I was out there working this morning, I was being watched!
The female has started to lay her eggs!!
According to Nests, Eggs, and Nestlings of North American Birds by Baicich and Harrison, she will lay from 2 to 5 eggs and begin incubating once the 3rd egg is laid (birds generally lay one egg a day).
Incubation takes 11 to 13 days!  
Can you see her?
So the next few weeks will be filled with lots of cardinal watching -- I've always wanted to discover a cardinal nest!!
FUN!!
While it's hard to be inside on the nice days, I am working on my "birth year" temperature quilt! 
 It just took an interesting turn, too . . . . . . all will be revealed soon!
 I'm keeping up with the #fussycuttingsewalong hexie project on Instagram.  I am currently piecing this large motif as the center of my masterplan for the 52 hexie flowers that will result from the group by the end of the year.  I've done some preliminary auditioning and feel (pretty) confident about the plan.
As soon as the center is finished, I'll share it here. 
If you don't see it, you know it didn't work after all!

I'm still waiting for ripe tomatoes and I hope this current season is providing you with lots of enjoyable moments, too!
Mary

NOTE:  I still am not getting comments e-mailed to me so I can't e-mail you a response but I do appreciate your comments and am reading them just the same!!  (Yes, I tried the fix several times and will keep trying.)












Thursday, July 5, 2018

2018 Finish Along -- Third Quarter Goals

Are you saying where did the first half of the year go?
I am!!
Time to share a few new goals for the third quarter of 2018 and see if I can get some more quilts finished!!

I'm rolling over my Bernina ZenChic Triangle quiltalong piece -- it's a leftover from last quarter and just past the halfway mark of quilting.  I don't want it to slip through the cracks!!
I'm never at a loss for UFO's -- this is the "finished top with backing" shelf.  May look overwhelming to some of you, but there are only 18 on it now.  
It was full, to the top, falling off the edge . . . . 
So generally making good progress!!
I decided to pull a rather old one -- dates to 2000.  The pattern was laid out and shared with me by a fellow "It's Okay" teacher from Milwaukee, WI -- Jan Kreuger.
I've hung it on the design wall across from my machine so that my subconscious can start working on the quilting plan!
I'll likely use it as a gift or sell it when it's finished.
My third project will be to quilt my daughter's version of my pattern, Mississippi Mud. It's a full size quilt and I'll be quilting it in four sections.  I've finished several of these over the years and so I already know how to quilt it!!

I also want to share that I've donated my Minimal mini wall quilt (it's 13 1/2" square) that was included in the Curated Quilt's third issue Gallery to a fund raising auction on Instagram that begins Monday, July 9.  Bids will be accepted through Friday, July 14 and all proceeds will go to aid immigrant and refugee families in crisis.  80 items are being auctioned!  




Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Quilting!!

Back at the end of May, I showed you my version of ZenChic's Bernina Triangle quilt along.
Even though I don't have a definite purpose/recipient for this quilt, I put it on my second quarter goal list for the 2018 Finish Along challenge.
Keeping it up on the design wall forced me to keep the momentum going -- it needed to come down in one complete quilt top or not at all since it took quite a bit of concentration to get it up there in the first place following the diagram that Brigette Heiland shared with us! 

So I was pleased to have everything together!!  This is one of those quilts that is more interesting at close range -- my soft palette of colors plus the low contrast of value between the assorted prints and the green background (it's one of the Moda grunges) make it difficult to photograph.
It was a bit short in length for me so I added a border to the top and bottom but I used the height of the inner rows and inserted a couple of the feature prints to camouflage them. 
Time to make a backing!
My determination to use lots of what I already own sent me on a stash diving adventure.
Happily I was able to pull a half dozen pieces that echoed the palette of the quilt top!
If you've never made a pieced backing, it's a bit like an improv puzzle.
I pressed all the fabric and then put the largest  pieces on the design wall -- I pinned a note with the measurements to each piece of fabric.
Like many of you, I find it easier to proceed if there is a "visual" in front of me. 
Next step is to sort the pieces into "similar" width groups. 
In this case, I discovered that I had enough fabric to make two fairly wide columns. 
The space between represents a third column that will bring the backing up to the needed width. 
I keep the vertical grain of the fabric going up and down so the backing behaves more like one piece of fabric -- that makes the quilting easier!
And if I can keep selvages along the outer edges of the left and right columns, that's even better!!
Once the two outer columns were long enough, I started working on the center column.
(There was more stash diving at this point!) 
Here's my backing -- 5 yards of some "on the edge" of very old fabric in it's new forever home!! 
At this point, the quilting is underway -- all straight(ish) lines -- 1/4" on each side of the seams.  That was the basic plan in my head as I finished piecing the top, but when I saw Brigette's blog post (HERE) about the quilting of her version, I was sure my idea was good!!
My goal is to finish by Saturday, June 30?
And I could do it -- not much on my calendar for the week!
I had a great outing yesterday so hopefully I'll be content to stay close to home and quilt!
Want to see some of what I saw?

I joined a group of damselfly and dragonfly lovers along a local river -- one thing that could help me add pursuing this lovely little creatures more often is that they don't fly until the sun is shining -- no early mornings for them unlike birds!!

But the morning stayed cloudy and the river was high, so insect sightings were challenging. 
Happily, the forest edge along the river is lush -- no signs of heavy deer browsing which unfortunately is becoming an all too common a sight in my area!!
Native Ostrich ferns underneath a canopy of large sycamore trees.
And these Canada lilies were abundant!!
They tower above the rest of vegetation and I've never seen so many!
Look at this color!!
Once the sun came out, we did begin to see quite a few insects.  I can remember seven different species including this one which was new to me -- a Violet Dancer. 
It's about 2" long and the shade of violet along it's body varies a bit but is always tipped with a blue/violet.
I just noticed that interesting beetle in the lower right of this picture?!?
Wonder what that is?
I will also say that dragonflies and damselflies can be more challenging to spot than birds!
But it's interesting to become more educated about them.
They are a good indicator of good quality environments so it's important to understand and appreciate them!

Okay, back to that quilting!!
Have a lovely week!
Mary


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Dodecagon EPP Update!

Early in February, 2017, I began my Dodecagon journey using Marge Sampson-George's pattern and templates.  I've shared my progress in several posts since then and today's share is exciting to me!!  I have the center of my layout almost completely assembled and it's coming together so beautifully!! 

Back in January (read it HERE), I shared how I was setting up the four large floral units and some tips (ala Karen @faeiriesandfibres -- you can read through her posts for lots of great EPP tips HERE!!).  
Once the four units were finished, I began spending my evenings with the units laying on the living room floor, adding rows of hexagons in preparation for assembling the large central diamond section of my layout.
Every stage of completion gets me more and more excited about the final quilt!!
At this point, I needed to organize more pink and yellow hexies to complete the border around the outside of the center.  
Finally, the nine center units were ready to set together!!
In the picture below, I have the two top rows stitched completely together but snapped this photo so you can see how I've dissected the units for the most logical (to me) assembly.  
The units interlock together -- that was necessary to applique the floral motifs into position without losing the hexie paper's stability along the outer edges.

And a closer look!
Once the center section is together, I'll do some more auditioning -- I have a layout design but it has changed a bit here and there as I work with the fabrics and see the interaction of the colors.
These are my grab-n-go baggies for stitching on the run -- one dodecagon plus enough black hexies to border -- there are only seven left!!
Actually, I was "worrying" yesterday about what I can "take along" when these are done?!?
Ahhh, but it just occurred to me that I can bag up sets of the green hexies to stitch into bordering strips that will be set between the dodecagons in each corner of the quilt -- dilemma, no more!! 

I'm doing well to stay focused on this project as there are so many tempting other EPP things going on out there -- the Kingfisher SewAlong with Jodi Godfrey of @talesoflove keeps popping up in my Instagram feed and then there's the #roseofkaleighsewalong based on one of Sue Daley's patterns -- arggghhhh.
But at my age, I need to focus on "leaving quilts, not fabric".
This will NOT become an ancient UFO!!
Check out this thoughtful post from Jenny Kae -- as one who has been dealing with UFO's for over a decade, I could have written this and you need to read it!!

Have a good week!!
Mary

NOTE:  Blogger isn't currently forwarding comments to me (their glitch) so please excuse me if I don't respond with a personal e-mail.  I'll post replies on this post but that means you'll need to come back for another visit to read it.  Sorry if that is an inconvenience and thanks for reading today's post!