Sunday, May 5, 2019

Some Creative Thoughts

Five days ago, I posted a picture on my Instagram feed and declared my intention for the week as part of the #onethingwithamy hashtag -- "turn this motley group of leftover y-seam demo units into a cute baby quilt flimsy as I continue to clear out the aftermath of 35 years of teaching quiltmaking". 

This is where it was a couple days ago when last you saw me!
I finished setting it together and then . . . . how am I going to make this "cute"???

It needed to be a bit longer and so I fell back onto my often used strategy of adding a pieced band top and bottom plus more of the "float" bands of fabric.  There were leftover diamonds I could use.
Taking time to trim the points of the diamonds with Marti Michell's Point Trimmer make assembling a row of these diamonds easy and accurate.
Perfect alignment every time. 
And a straight band of pieced diamonds. 
The ends ones were cut on the angle at just the end being joined to the band so they could be trimmed straight on the outside end. 
That was easy!!  But now what?
Nothing to be done but pull out anything with lots of color that might say "cute" loudly!!
(I didn't photograph the rejects, but I did put them away.)
And the winner is . . . 
this cute farm print I grabbed at an end-of-bolt sale!!

I needed to piece the upper and lower borders to make the best use of the fabric I had.
To make the joining seam less obvious and eliminate "cow-butts" and "headless cows"
I folded back the end of the right hand strip until I found a less obvious area for the seam. 
Then I cut off sections at the correct ends of the strips being joined. 
The seam isn't a perfect match but it is less obvious! 
And here is the "cute" quilt!!!

So here's the "creative thought" for the day -- if I had not defined the look I wanted this quilt to have before I started working on it, I think I would still be stuck up in the studio trying to figure out how to border this piece.  It's not just a jumble of colors, it's a jumble of print styles and while that makes it a true scrap quilt, it can also make it harder to unify the finished look of the quilt.  

When I started pulling potential borders fabrics, "cute" defined where I started -- if it was a cute, multi-colored print, I auditioned it!  The moment I laid this hunk of fabric next to the pieced center, I knew immediately it was the right piece because it was colorful and "cute".

So thank goodness, I defined my creative goal for this motley stack of pieces.
I'm not sure I always do that but I'll pay more attention in the future because it certainly made this project come together easier and more successfully than I imagined!

This quilt is destined to become one of my charity makes.
It measures 44" by 58".
I even pulled the backing together today!

Check out the hashtag #onethingwithamy to see what other quilters are doing!


Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Where's Mary??

"I think she's out chasing a bird!!"
My mother was the first person to say that, but not the last!?!
With new arrivals nearly every day during April, it's important to go birding as often as possible.
I live on the south shore of Lake Erie and spring bird migration is a big deal!!
This beauty (Rose-breasted Grosbeak) just arrived for the summer nesting season!
I don't just walk and gawk at birds though -- I try to be useful to the woodlands as well!
Every spring walk finds me pulling as much garlic mustard as I can clutch in my hand and carrying it on to the next trash can.
This is native to Europe, but it's invasive in North America and even though we'll never whip it out here, some of us try to keep it from overrunning woodlands and pushing out native spring wildflowers plus it decoys this threatened butterfly, the West Virginia White, into laying eggs on it's leaves but the caterpillars starve when they eat the leaves.
I've also been lobbying for and monitoring some control efforts of lesser celandine in my favorite local park!
Across the creek, the ground is covered with this plant and on this side of the creek, you can see the results of herbicide spraying -- look at it wilting!!
Once again, no way to eliminate it completely so efforts are focused on keeping it out of high quality stream beds and wildflower areas.
It's my dream to see this stream-side terrace covered with native skunk cabbage and marsh marigolds!!
Most evenings find me stitching on something!  Amy at Amy's Creative Side has started a hashtag on Instagram (#onethingwithamy) -- click HERE to explore!!
The idea is to set a achievable weekly goal -- so far I'm all over it!!
Week 1, I bound and washed this quilt to prepare it for donating!
Now I'm working on this motley collection of tumbling block units that are leftovers from all my y-seam piecing demos.  Since I've stepped away from teaching, I don't need them so I'm attempting to turn them into a "cute" child's quilt.  
It will be small but I'm not so sure about "cute"?!?
I have been fiddling with it for a couple evenings and just have one more zig-zig set of 12 y-seams to finish -- then borders!! 
Since I always chain piece through y-seams, I alternate with other projects so I finished assembling this scrappy quilt top -- made a backing and it's on the layering table waiting for pins as I write!
 I finished assembling this top and am ready to add the borders! 
Like many of you, we have been getting lots of rain and while general flooding hasn't been a problem, I have to admit I'm a bit frustrated by the ever present wetland along the edge of my lawn.
This fella (Northern Cardinal) is loving it though -- just peaked around the the monitor of my computer and he's out there right now, scouring the soggy lawn for edibles.  He must be having great success because he's working out there most of the day!
The Korean Spice viburniums are blooming and filling the yard with a luxurious scent!
The red currant is in full bloom and I'm hoping the insects are pollinating it so I can enjoy lots of fresh berries this summer! 
A male house wren has laid claim to the back half of my garden and is exploring every nook and cranny -- bad for the bugs -- and singing his merry tunes! 
So far, I've managed to fend off the white-tail deer munching on my flowers -- I see their tracks but they don't like my bi-weekly stinky spray program! 
And the old peony that I moved at the wrong time last summer is showing buds!!
So spring is good -- still several weeks of bird migration to soak up and wildflowers to find. The garlic mustard won't pull itself and energy spent on my garden will pay off this summer!
I'll be wearing myself out!!


Thursday, April 11, 2019

Are You Stitching?

My stitching right now is short snatches of time because my focus is supposed to be on redecorating -- at least that's what I said at the beginning of February, but I've managed to drag it out into April???
One of the challenges of retirement and ageing seems to be accepting the slower pace dictated by age related changes and a lack of deadlines in my case.

This lap quilt has been on my design wall for two weeks just the way I brought it home from my charity quilt work session.  Nothing has happened.
I did finish the EPP tile from @sharksdinner -- that's it on the right.
Of course with me, there's another reason for my dawdling pace.
Spring migration is building in this area.  Ducks have moved through and now we are waiting for shorebirds.
My April birding goal is to see a "first of the year" bird everyday -- so 30 new birds!
First 10 days -- 10 birds -- on track.
Then this morning, in 3 hours I saw 8 new birds for the year -- including this lucky find near a local marsh -- a black-crowned night heron out in the open in the daytime??? 
I should be able to take a few days off, but I can't -- I might miss something!!!!
I might never come back inside!?!
More like I might wear myself out and have to sleep for a week.

I did finish my Mrs. Peach cushion.  
 After enduring several days of "how to quilt this" agony, I started with some simple straight lines.
My strategy is always that once engaged with the quilting, more ideas will flow into my fingers.
But they didn't this time, so I "let it go" and forged ahead to finish the cushion.  
It's a 24" pillow and to avoid those pokey corners, I rounded them -- looks better to me.  
I use a water glass to trace uniform corner curves, then trim before turning.
And we have a finish!!
I'll be leading a workshop using this pattern from Marge Sampson-George at the Gathering of Quilters in Berlin, Ohio the last weekend of August, 2019.  Stay tuned for more details.
(a little vacation from retirement?!)
It looks great with my wonky birds quilt.
There's a part of me whispering, "it looks so good, you should have made it bigger - a quilt!" and my new "retired" whisperer is saying "no, this is perfect -- got a taste of the challenge, finished it and now you can do something else on that long list!!" 
So I did!  This is a pile of corner trimmings from the Posy Patch Quilt I tested for @sterlingsewn -- use them, throw them away???
Then up popped this sweet Carrot Top block from @thesewingloft two weeks ago!
You can find it along with some other very cute, simple blocks HERE.
Just needed a trim and we are ready to go!
I'm not starting a big project -- I just want to play around with this cute block!
A handful of oranges from my amazing stash and I was off and running. 
The intention was to make two potholders to donate to a local fundraiser, but I cut more strips than needed and happily had just the right number of HST's to make four. 
Then I got a text about a surprise "birthday card shower" and it was quicker to finish one of the carrots into a mug rug than to go buy a card! 
So now, not only will there be two potholders to donate, but there will be three mug rugs for spontaneous little gifts.

It's so hard to resist all the wonderful new ideas and patterns that pop up every day in the cyber quilting world, don't you agree?  So adapting to small projects is a good way for me to enjoy the new trends and support the maker/designers pattern sales!  I still can't try all of the "new" but I can play with more of them by making smaller pieces.  Wish we had thought of minis and mug rugs and pouches years ago -- maybe I wouldn't have so many UFO's staring at me from my shelves!?!

I'm off for a weekend of wildflower trekking in Southwestern Ohio -- this section of my library is coming along for support!
I'll relax in the evenings with new friends and finish knitting little caps for the triplets -- only two and half months before I get to meet my newest grandchildren!!
Enjoy your weekend as the seasons change -- spring for some of us and fall for the rest!!

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Signs of Spring

It's a sunny day here in Northeast Ohio so I had a wander around the yard and my favorite park looking for signs of spring.  
I had to push back some leaf litter to get the full view of these charming crocus -- love that yellow cup at the base of each flower!  I'll have to mark this clump and dig it up for separating later this spring -- spread that loveliness around a bit! 
The hellebore feel late but they are coming along and should be in full bloom in another week!
Love snowdrops and have been working for years to plant them all over my gardens -- think this clump might get spread around later this spring, too.
These two iris blooms -- look how determined they are to push through the leaf litter!?!
That pop of color makes me smile!
The pond is already growing algae and looking pretty murky but I'll leave it that way in hopes that an American toad will use it again this year for a breeding ground and tadpole nursery.
I'm very pleased to see these little red shoots -- it means the peonies I transplanted at the wrong time of the year last summer came through the winter!
 I groomed my raised planting trough and planted peas in there -- fingers crossed that they will love it and I'll have fresh peas by the end of May!!
I also set out the straw bales rescued from the trash pickup after Halloween -- they have been fertilized and the April rains will start the rotting process that makes them a good place to plant stuff!!
Curious?  Google "straw bale gardening", because it's a "thing"!
I even hung laundry outside -- it will take all day to dry but ohhhh, the scent when I bring them inside!!
I did a bit of very early plant shopping while visiting family in southeastern Pennsylvania over the weekend and this tray followed me home -- for now, they will just be outside on mild sunny days, but soon, soon -- real dirt!
I'm slowly redecorating my dining room and hallways so the stitching is slow, but I did finish assembling this plus quilt.  The strips were cut 4 1/2" wide and come from a big ugly pile of unwanted solids -- all the greens and blues.
Let me tell you, they look lots better in this quilt than they did on the cutting table!
All of them date from the 1980's and have a gray cast.
I wish I had taken a picture before the cutting started.
It is twin size and will be finished into a quilt to be donated to a resident of a local transitional home.  There's another pile of ugly solids -- all the reds and pinks -- that might have the same destiny!
The woods are still so brown here after a long winter with very little snow -- the only color are the subtle greens of lichen and mosses.
And of course the bird color! 
There are so many bluebirds around this spring -- seems like I see them on every walk and in the most surprising places!  All those nest boxes in the parks have brought them back in force!
Now this guy just got back from the south!!
A rufous sided towhee -- he's a bit early but seems happy to be the first one in the park which means he can secure the same ideal territory he used last summer!!
Now I need to spend the rest of the morning finishing my tax appointment preparations -- necessary!!
I hope you are enjoying the change of seasons in your part of the world.