Wednesday, July 29, 2020


I'm struggling a bit right now -- lots of yawning these days.
And the temptation to sit down and "wait" seem to be becoming too familiar a state of mind?
At this moment, I'm waiting for some rain to arrive.
I'm waiting for the kettle to boil.
I'm waiting for the storm to cool off the air so I can open the house back up.
I'm waiting for inspiration for this blogpost and what to make for supper and how to quilt my grandson's quilt?

Of course, I know how this works -- inspiration doesn't usually find me unless I'm working along. 
Just starting to ramble along here might lead some where?
Searching through the fridge might reveal a supper idea.
Starting to stitch in the ditch along the edges of the sashing strips might inspire the next step.
Now if I could just stop yawning?!?

Afternoon coffee in hand!

Folks who know me face-to-face know while I can be intense I also have an "oh, look!" habit!?!
Yesterday, I "realized" (thanks to a local preserve that I follow on Facebook) that the second annual Bumble Bee Watch is currently underway and it's just this week and all I need to do is submit photos and some data via the I-Naturalist app.   That's all!?!
Since the current batch of monarch caterpillars are almost all in the chrysalis stage, why not?!?
(Weird view -- looking up into the butterfly enclosure)

  So I watched a training video from the Minnesota Extension Service on identifying bumbles and embarked on a frenzy of photos and observation as I try to apply what I learned.  
Side view -- face portrait -- top side.

 Then I noticed that my favorite native coneflower is opening!!
I call it sweet coneflower and I love the unique petals plus the fact that it doesn't reseed all over the neighborhood (which many of my native flowers do).
Next thing you know, I'm wandering around the garden to pick a bouquet and see what else is going on -- the morning glory or moonflower vines (it will be a surprise) seem to be plotting a take over.  As it is midsummer, I've been spending an hour every morning weeding and tidying up a section of the garden -- this enthusiastic duo will need to be corralled tomorrow morning.
Inspiration and a "to-do" list for the morning!
(The rain is arriving!!)
And of course, I'm stitching.
I started this scrappy quilt -- been cutting pieces for it all winter and spring.
Easy to piece and I figured out a pressing strategy that assures me matching seams will always be opposing.
And I started another quilt -- Marge Sampson-George's Christabella
She designed it as an English paper piecing project but I'm machine piecing it -- lots of auditioning is needed since I've gone rogue on the fabric palette so it's slow going right now.
I'm started with two clumps of new fabrics I acquired this year and am blending in some older stuff.
Today, I put the binding on this scrappy bargello just back from quilting.  The top might be 7 years old?!?  Julie at Pink Doxies showed off an adorable digitized pantograph she used on a hexie quilt she pieced using my Set-In Piecing Simplified technique recently -- it has bees and flowers and is soooo cute!  This top popped into my head as soon as I saw the quilting design so I turned it over to her to quilt for me!  I'm so pleased with the way it turned out.  She was even able to scale the design down a bit for a better fit for the size of the squares.
Love me a finish!!
I also started hand quilting my Halo quilt top -- inspired by an Aussie quilter's stitching shared on Instagram with all the particulars of how she is doing it!
"Big Stitch" using size 8 perle cotton -- 3 different colors since I didn't have enough of one for the entire quilt or was it that I couldn't make up my mind which color???
My grandson's quilt is layered and I have pulled possible threads -- maybe tomorrow I'll start?
So don't just wait -- turn on the kettle, pull out a UFO that needs some stitching, clean out the fridge, bring in a bouquet -- move into life as it is right now.  
In the process, inspiration will come -- little or big and it will help pass the time.
Things will get done, I'll start to feel perkier, old projects will get finished and new ideas will capture my attention.

I'll be as focused as my granddaughter watching me prep her first ice cream cone of homemade raspberry ice cream!!  Pretty stinkin' cute, huh?!?
I found these mini cones while searching for chocolate syrup!!  
(Let me hold it myself!!)

  This week I discovered the Farm Link Project - it started with a couple college students and has now grown into groups all over the USA linking farmers with surplus to food banks.
Check out what they've accomplished in just six short months -- impressive!!
I read yesterday that "food insecurity" is becoming a huge problem in this country -- maybe we can all pitch in and help?


Monday, July 13, 2020

After A Full Moon

Where do you stand on a full moon?
Perhaps you've never given it much thought but after years of hearing my nurse customers' stories about "working in the hospital on full moon days", I started to pay attention to my own response to a full moon!
It's not great.  I'm all the cranky adjectives!
I came up with an action strategy for dealing with my full moon moods years ago and while it doesn't seem to be as much of an issue right now (retirement helped I think), my instincts still fall back on those strategies to get through that first week after a full moon.

One of them is to "not start any new projects"!
I need positive vibes, to feel like I'm accomplishing things, so making good strides on anything is a big boost to my mood!  Starting a new project is fun, but it contributes nothing to elevating my mood!
So last week, I made quilt backings!

It started with a big one for the dodecagon quilt top I finished piecing this spring.
I had the perfect print in my stash and it was only 3/4 of a yard short???
I created pieced sections using leftover greens from the top.
Since the top is all hexagons, I joined the strips with 60 degree angles (clever, huh?).
I decided on 2 1/2" strips so that any excess could just be added to my scrappy sourdough box!
One of the challenges of using this yardage was that I wanted to "match" the motifs so the seam wasn't obvious and the backing looks like one big seamless piece.
I did a pretty good job because it's hard to find the seam in this photo!!
This is one end.  I split my yardage into two equal lengths.  I added a pieced section to opposite ends of each length, then laid them out on the floor and moved one length up and down until the motifs aligned across the width of the backing.  Next day, when I returned to the project, I re-checked the alignment, trimmed off a couple inches down the length of the two pieces and matched up the edges for stitching!
Quilting this will be a winter project so it's all back on the "to-be" shelf.
Keeping it simple evolved as a theme last week -- I had some clever ideas for making this backing wide enough for my Halo quilt top, but in the end . . . . 
. . . not quite as clever, perhaps even boring but ready to layer!  And I layered it yesterday.  One of the Instagram #halosewalong2020 participants shared her hand quilting strategy last week and I'm blatantly following it!!!

One of my July goals is to get my triplet grandson's big bed quilt bordered and backed to start quilting!
I added the borders and turned my attention to the backing!
It is so good to have that list of monthly goals when I can't think what to do next!
The fun thing about this quilt is that all the blocks were pieced from one layer cake and a 1 1/2 yard cut of the polka dot background.  The sashing is from another fabric line, but I thought it look pretty cute with the layer cake fabrics.  All of that fabric was purchased over 4 years ago and since I didn't have a plan for it at the time, there was no border fabric.  Happily, I found this new print this past winter -- even though it's not from the original line, the background color and the print theme hold it together for me and my grandson!
The backing gets a little crazy.  It's two lengths of the print I colored for Kings Road Imports back in the mid-90's stretched with a band of the left over layer cake squares.  His sisters have a different colorway and while I realize it's not totally "boy" to have so many flowers, it's special because "grandma planned the colors".
I still have two hunks in other colorways to use for my older grandchildren and those projects are on my short list!

Another July goal is to tidy up a particularly messy corner of the studio! I halfheartedly started mid-week and (much to my relief) found my two temperature quilt tops folded up with a stack of possible backing fabrics.
So I quit tidying and started sewing (because by sewing, some tidying will occur).
I added the picket fence border to the bottom of my "birth year" temperature quilt which needed to be longer in my opinion.
Again, there had been a clever plan for this border but I never got farther than a pile of green prints (which I have borrowed from several times).  It was suppose to suggest grass and the holdup was not knowing how to piece grass.
But I do know how to piece a picket fence!
It's a border I designed for a friendship quilt of mine years ago.
It's easy to do -- just graph it out using a scale of one square per inch with pickets and rails between.
Then make the pickets from strips with a simple flip and sew corner plus strip sets for the rail units.
(That corner square is so crooked that this picket is a reject).
Ready to make a backing!
In a fit of whimsy, I decided to usurp this kid's print for a backing on my own quilt but it wasn't quite large enough.  Again, I had clever ideas but my fear of ruining the fabric by cutting it (absurd, really) into bands and the work of adding rows of pieced blocks between the bands quickly turned into "find a compatible print and border it" up to the size needed!?!
Of course, the perfect print was just a few inches short of what I needed for the long borders.
Time to sketch and calculate!
Adding the borders this way isn't a new strategy for me -- can't recall how I stumbled onto this idea?
It eliminates the need to piece any of the border strips.
It's exactly like piecing a "partial seam" block and HERE's a link to a good video on how to do that.
The final backing of the week is for my year 70 temperature quilt top pieced during 2017/18.
There were two cuts of beautiful prints folded up with the top -- both long enough but neither was quite wide enough.  Both prints were good choices but in the end I went with this great bird print from one of Kathy Doughty's (Material Obsession in Australia) early fabric collections.
(I'm such a sucker for a good bird print!)
I also wanted to incorporate my fabric chart into the backing.
A search of the stash for some prints to piece into a band to widen the backing turned up this great Alexander Henry (save the saliva -- it's from 2005).  It's a little bold but all the colors are perfect.
I was experimenting with using the "stripe" cross wise or length wise and how to position the color chart when I realized I could take pictures of all the options then use the layout app on my phone to put them all "side-by-side".  That simplified making my decision because I could see all the options together -- so much easier than put one up, change it, etc.
Here's the final result!
By the end of the week, I had finished five backings and my sew-jo was hyped up so I started piecing a new scrappy project that I've been cutting for all spring.  This evening, when my daughter gets home and can lend me her hands, I'll layer up my grandson's quilt so the machine quilting can begin this week.

It was good to keep busy with my comfort work last week.  With Covid 19 ramping up around us and the pressure to get educated about racism and it's impacts on our society continuing, staying grounded in one's daily work is stabilizing.  I've been following the posts of Black naturalists on Instagram -- hiking, birding, botanizing.  They are exploring regions that are unfamiliar to me and I'm on the lookout for connections in the Gulf states for the future, an area I've always been interested in birding.  

Here are some Instagram discoveries you might enjoy this coming week! 
Check out @knitchings because every one of her posts will make you smile.  
Have you heard about the Farm Link Project working to redirect large quantities of "excess" produce to food banks -- follow them at @farmlinkproject -- the movement started in California and is spreading nationwide.   Check out their website HERE! 
 Finally, if you haven't already found @modern_daily_knitting they continue to provide links to articles and organizations to help us understand racism.  Even if you aren't a knitter, you'll enjoy Kay and Ann!

I hope you'll follow my lead this week and push yourself into your stitching even if you don't know where you'll find the energy or focus. 
 You might be surprised to find both waiting for you over there in that pile of fabric!


Monday, July 6, 2020

Halo Quilt Sew Along - A Finished Top!!

During April, I shared a new project -- the Halo Quilt.  The booklet has been in my stash for a couple years and this scrappy quilt catches my eye on Instagram over and over!
I was in the midst of several other projects (of course) but when a couple Instagrammers announced they were going to host a Sew Along, I caved at once -- I could do the two blocks a week goal they shared easily.  I copied the template pages, glued them to template plastic, cut them out and started exploring my fabric stash for the right stuff.
A few blocks into the piecing and I made some basic fabric decisions such as the arcs would be simple prints, the four side shapes would be low volume prints, and I'd use a wide variety of print styles and novelty prints for the centers and corners.
I didn't stay with those guidelines 100% of the time, but they helped me start moving.
I machine pieced the blocks and used them as "sew-offs" (leaders and enders) for projects with deadlines.  My experience teaching the drunkard's path block with Marti Michell's templates made the curves easy and my blocks were generally square which was a delightful surprise!
Soon the blocks were accumulating and I was getting very relaxed about the fabric pulls.  In general, I pulled the fabrics for two or three blocks at a time and pieced them.  Some of the other participants cut all their fabrics before starting the piecing but I have a rather short attention span and am eager to see how "this block" is going to look!!
As the blocks were finished, I added them to the layout without much arranging.
As the number of blocks increased, I started researching the outer border blocks by looking through the dozens of Instagram photos from other quilters.  My first thought was to use more low volume prints for those units and I trialed a few -- meh . . . . 
Then I saw Maria's (@marvanzij) version using teals!!! -- check it out HERE!
I love teal and so off to my shelves I went -- but I don't have enough teal prints to pull it off .
Which color do I have lots of variety?
Rather than use the border templates in the pattern, I cut rectangles for the sides and squares for the corners following the instructions and made this "cut away" template.  Once all the arc units were assembled and the border squares/rectangles cut, I worked on my design wall to audition them for placement to enhance the circles in the center of the quilt.  It took a couple days of coming and looking, moving, leaving - coming back, looking, moving, leaving, etc. until I was happy with the arrangement.
I was also going slowly because I wasn't completely convinced that the blues would be right.
Interestingly, I cut all the pieces for this quilt with my trusty Gingher scissors?!?  
I haven't done that since the early 1980's!?!
At this point, I was convinced the blues were just right for my blocks!
My version is smaller than the pattern and many of those being made by others.
It will finish at about 47" by 56" -- larger would have been fine but I could sense that I was getting bored with the piecing and I'm always happy to have another laprobe around the house!
Time to assemble the blocks into a top!
My blocks were pretty consistent but every now and then there was one with a wonky corner -- I'm blaming the grain of the fabric.  
I'm not a "trimmer" -- but I have lots of experience at "fudging" things together so my focus was to match the arcs and the block corners and everything happily fell into place!
I believe it helps that I always assemble quilt tops using pairs and quads instead of rows.
It's the same technique I described in my recent post on setting together the blocks for my Mississippi Mud pattern -- it's HERE.
Here's the finished quilt top.  The backing is in progress and I'm currently stalking Instagrammers for quilting photos of their versions!  I found a hand quilting one that inspires me -- not sure I want to hand quilt this one or that I can adapt the idea to machine quilting -- we'll see?!?
Are you doing any anti-racism work?
It would be easier in the short run to skip it, wouldn't it -- but I believe the sooner all whites get educated about this issue, the sooner things will improve.
It's easy to wish things would just go back to normal but normal wasn't really working.
I remember someone saying to me as my husband recovered from a stroke that it was good to see him getting "back to normal" -- I bravely responded that "back to normal" wasn't my hope for him as it led to the stroke.  There needed to be changes made and this isn't any different.

I'm halfway through Me and White Supremacy -- the questions are getting harder but my white fragility is getting less fragile.  I listened to another one of Ms. Saad podcasts -- twice -- introduced me to the white habit of "cultural appropriation" as it pertains to yoga and the spiritual practices in which it is rooted.
Now I can't stop wondering how quilters fascination with the work of Ghee's Bend reflects that same demeaning habit.

Over the weekend, I started listening to The Bluest Eye.  It's Toni Morrison's first novel and I was pleased to find a copy of it on Overdrive read by her.  I love to hear authors read their work -- I know it's being conveyed the way they intended.  Her word pictures are vivid and the fact that she has a soothing melodic voice is a bonus!

Finally, I'm hosting an OPEN GARDEN DAY this Saturday (7/11) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The daylilies should be at their peak and the native meadow and prairie plants should be starting to bloom!  It's free but donations to benefit The City Mission of Cleveland will be welcome.
There might even be a few plants for sale and a few quilts on display depending on how energetic I get?
I'm located in Northeast Ohio, Lake County and an email to 
maryhueyquilts at hotmail dot com 
will get my address.
Everyone is welcome!!