Friday, October 19, 2018

My New Gig -- Not Teaching!?!

It's the first morning of my "retirement" from teaching quilt making -- called for a late breakfast (10 a.m.) of my favorite tea (yes, I use my coffee press for tea) and oatmeal with apples, walnuts, and maple syrup!
There's a stack of quilts on a chair in the living room that need putting away but they'll still be there later today . . . . and tomorrow! 
Not going to miss the packing and unpacking of traveling to teach!!
One of my birding friends asked the other evening "what are you going to do now?"
Does this look like the habitat of a person who is going to have trouble keeping busy?
I'll forgive him because he's one of those guys who is bored with retirement.
I'm starting out by clearing out my teaching files and workshop paraphernalia.
This is my light/dark kaleidoscope teaching sample.
I engineered the "step-by-step" samples into two more blocks . . .
. . . to make a sweet little quilt top for my charity project. 
The leaf color in this red print from the era of bluish greens can be a challenge and so I was delighted to find enough of a similar blue/green in my stash to add an accent border as I worked to make the top large enough to be a child size quilt.  All those clumps of fabric laying around the outside edge are possible "final borders".
Quickest way for me to make a decision is lay them all out and leave the room.
When I come back, the best candidate usually reveals itself quickly.
Auditioning this way leads to intuitive decisions which are less taxing on my brain.
Saving mental energy!! 
And here's the finished top!
It's moved into the stack of charity quilt tops along with some of that blue/green for the binding.
It should be finished in time for our annual Christmas donation to a local transition program for young women with children.
I'm back at work hand quilting this beauty -- in the past seven days, I've finished one and a half of the large motifs and started the border quilting (keeping it simple).  
The cutting table is a busy spot as I prep for several projects -- looks like there are at least 3 different projects in this picture!?!  One for a charity quilt, one a long term scrappy quilt that has been on my "to-do" list for some time (and is suppose to whittle down the quantity of reproduction prints in my stash -- we'll see????).  There is also a new y-seam project in the offing -- not quite ready to share but if you are a fan of Set-In Piecing Simplified, you are going to love this one!!
I'm also plotting a sew-along in November that will feature a simple quilt you can make without leaving your stash.  The purpose of the sew-along will be to #shareaquilt.
It will also be a perfect pattern to introduce a friend to quilt making -- hoping to suck in my DIL!!
More to come!!
I am currently dealing with a bit of knitting fever!  
Having successfully completed a cardigan for my oldest daughter this summer, I'm hot to knit more than socks!!  
The flood of new Indie hand-dyes is hard to resist but I will try to stay calmer about the "starting" of knit projects than my quilting starts -- one at a time and all the way to the finish!
My life isn't really changing as much as it does for many retirees -- I've been easing into it for 10 years and while I did think I've last a bit longer as a teacher, I'm excited about this new path.
I'll remain active in my local quilting community through my charity stitching group and continue to share ideas and skills via this blog.
My "retirement" gift to myself is a new camera (well, I literally wore out the last one)
and I'm hoping to do a bit more nature photography with it.
This portrait of a Lincoln's sparrow that popped up on the rail for a minute yesterday delights me!
So here's to hardly any deadlines and less responsibility!!
Have a lovely weekend!

Friday, October 12, 2018

Third Quarter Goals for the 2018 Finish Along

 Just setting myself up with two finishing goals for this quarter!
First up is my Value Proposition QAL top from 2015 (?) -- I'm on the last row of blocks and haven't touched it all summer.
Just these four blocks to go . . . . .  
. . . . . and 300" of this 10" wide border.  Since it's such a busy print, I expect the quilting design choice will be simple -- parallel lines or a grid that echos the 60 degrees angles of the hexagons.
Part of my renewed interest is thanks to Jeana Kimball who has started a #50daysofhandquilting push via her Instragram feed and so I started out the first day this morning with an hour of stitching!
I would love to have this hanging in the living room by Christmas!!

Second project will be a retirement gift for a long time naturalist birding friend.  When she announced her final day last month, my immediate impulse was to make her a quilt.  But first I always check this shelf to see if I already have something perfect on hand -- it's not nearly as full as it once was so I was fearful that there wouldn't be the perfect quilt top (with backing and binding) to suit her. 
But yes -- have no fear!  There it was -- third quilt top I touched!!
Complete with backing and binding -- ready to layer.
Bright, cheerful, and featuring birds!!
The quilt isn't askew -- it's my photo -- quilt on floor, me on a chair reaching way out?!?  I have about two months before her official last day -- thinking Baptist Fan but we'll see!
These two project should keep me busy for the next few months.

Enjoy the weekend!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

One Monthly Goal = A Finished (Ancient) UFO

At the beginning of September, it dawned on me that I was just 7 weeks from the end of my 40 year quilting making teaching career.  That meant I could clear out teaching packets and disperse leftovers and make a bit more space in my studio!

This stack of partially pieced bowtie blocks was at the bottom of a drawer and as you might be able to tell from the fabrics, goes back into the late 1980's.  Not sure why I haven't come across them before this as most of the demo samples from that era have long since been finished or repurposed.
So this was my "one monthly goal" for September as part of the Elm Street Quilts monthly challenge.
I quickly determined it would be a perfect boy's quilt for my charity stitching group's annual Christmas gifting project -- we never have enough boy quilts!  Once I had finished piecing the remaining blocks (they were my leaders and enders for a week of working on other - more interesting - projects), I organized a layout sketch.  Some stash diving produced this great print for alternate blocks.  There wasn't quite enough for my plan, but that just made the quilt better -- check out the plain squares of green and rust that filled out the plan.
Since the design wall was covered in other projects, I worked directly from the sketch to join pairs together -- what do you think of those impromptu guides (aka, scraps) to keep me on target?
As I stitched block pairs together, I spread them out on the floor adjacent to my machine.  A couple afternoons of stitching had the top all together and ready to layer and quilt.
I kept the quilting simple -- partly so I'd get finished and partly because it's a simple quilt.  There is a grid that follows all the horizontal and vertical seams and cuts the plain squares into fourths.  Once that was finished, I decided to add a diagonal grid through all the plain squares, too.
By this past weekend, I was ready to trim it up and today, I bound it during our bi-monthly charity sewing afternoon.
One of the other gals held it up for me and I'm pleased with it on several levels.
First, it is no longer an "ancient UFO" and second, it's going to be perfect for a little boy!
Keeping it simple and moving through it quickly was a good strategy instead of adding it to the UFO stack to be revisited who knows how many times before I actually used the blocks (or threw them away).
I've been outside a lot the past couple weeks with the change of seasons -- I'm always afraid I'll miss something!!  Like these mushrooms!  
There was a huge patch of these in the woods I frequent a couple years ago and ever since I've been hoping to see a repeat performance -- finally, I spotted the beginning bulb of one along the trail a couple days ago!
And when I glanced across the floor of the woods, there were several dozen more!
That large one in the center is huge -- 7" across and 8" tall.
And while I would not advise eating it, judging from that missing lump along the right edge, someone thinks it's tasty!
I also found this fella in my garden a week ago -- a black swallowtail caterpillar!
I never saw that butterfly in my yard (I would have been excited about that) but here is a caterpillar -- on the fennel.  He's now happily ensconced in a bouquet of fennel and carrot greens fattening up for a winter in a chrysalis that I'll keep outside in a safe spot for it to emerge in the spring.
Totally exciting!!
 I hope your first weekend of autumn or spring is a pleasant one -- I'm heading off for a few days of grand kid bonding!!


Linking up this week with Let's Be Social and One Monthly Goal -- click on the badges up there along the right side of the blog to see more fun stuff!!

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!!


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!