Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Out with the "old" and In with the "new"

Here we are again -- at the end of an old year and the beginning of a new year!  I'm not sure why these few days always fill me with a sense of excitement?  Is it getting to "the end" of lots of stuff -- goals, frustrations -- or the anticipation of "the new" -- more goals, a clean slate, anticipation?  Whatever it is, I'm ready as usual to move into the new year eagerly.

I finished up some gift sewing this week and can share them here because my family doesn't read my blog and by the end of the day tomorrow, everyone will have their gifts.

I only made one small quilt -- a combination housewarming/holiday gift for my oldest daughter who is also my birding sidekick.  It was a holiday/winter panel which is about a year old -- I chopped it up a bit and added sashing and borders to upsize it to a laprobe.

 I organized a set of  pint-size aprons for the triplets since they love to help their parents in the kitchen.  

Then I pulled out this old pattern (from when their Dad was a toddler) and made this funky shirt for the boy.

Adapting some t-shirts into fairy dresses for the girls intimidated me for a couple weeks after I found the perfect fairy skirt netting but once I started, they came together just fine and I've paired them with leggings.  Given how often the girls pick out their fairy dresses for the day, I think they will be popular with the two girls.

I tallied up my success list for the 2022 goal of reducing the UFO stash by 36 pieces -- 24 finishes and 12 eliminations was the goal.  I exceeded that by reducing the UFO's by 40 which included 21 finishes and 19 eliminations!!  Excellent!!

(I think) I have 17 UFO's left plus some orphan odds and ends and 8 antique/vintage quilt tops left.  Those remaining projects will comprise part of my 2023 goals!

I spent an afternoon last week outlining five new goals (none as big as the last couple years).

  1.  Finish six more UFO's from the leftover 2022 list.  Most of the remaining UFO's are small projects so that feels doable!

2.  Quilt the new tops I made in 2022 -- there are just five so a little progress every week could be the key. 

3.  Spurred by my finish of the vintage rail fence (above) quilt a couple days ago, I'm determined to deal with all the antique/vintage quilt tops I own -- there are nine currently and selling is a valid option.  One is already listed in my Etsy shop for sale.  I got so excited while reviewing these quilt tops, I dove into some repair work already that is needed on this one.  It's a delightful collection of fabric from the late 1800's.

4. If/when I start new projects, I am going to chose from a list of seven that I've wanted to make for a while.  Several are just a hoarded pattern at this point. One is an applique block of the month that we kitted and sold in my shop (30 years ago).  My Mom bought all the kits but never started them, so the plan is to do it as a BOM in 2023.  I'll be elated if I finish that top!!   

Another one is a "scrap buster" strip quilt and the 2 1/2" strip box needs a big thinning so that could be a quick stitch-up -- no cutting?

The challenge for me on this one will be to not be led astray by some shiny "new" pattern -- every one of the seven projects in that stack are irresistible ideas -- that's why they are in the stack so I just need to stay enchanted!!

5. The final goal for the year is to rehome twelve finished quilts.  I'm doing this as a favor to my kids -- twelve less for them to rehome during the big clear out in the future!?!  I gave away or sold 22 this past year but there are still lots left.  It's hard to let go of quilts I've made and love.  It takes a focused effort to work up to letting one go but I would like to see more of them being used instead of being stacked up?!?  

There are currently two twin size blue and yellow quilts listed in my Etsy shop for sale.  They are scrappy in nature and the same layout so would be a lovely set but they are listed as single quilts so you could buy one!!

So have I inspired you to set a quilting goal for 2023?  You don't need to be as enthusiastic as I get but goals can be very motivating.  If you've never done this, pick out a project you really want to finish or start -- look it over and determine what effort is needed to finish -- break that down into six parts and then try to finish one part every month for the next six months.  I think if you try using goals to motivate your quilting efforts, you'll enjoy your success and find ways to build on this new habit.  It sure has worked for me!!  I think I could actually run out of UFO's in the next couple years!!

Best wishes for a peaceful New Year!!


P.S. And a big thanks for continuing to follow along with my musings!!

Friday, December 9, 2022

Quilting Reflections

The quilting is well underway -- 30 to 45 minutes a day so I don't ruin my neck and shoulders and back for the remainder of the day.  I'd like to work longer since the project is going so well but I've learned  that steady does it better.  I'm close to the halfway point and have worked out all the design decisions needed.

I started with the plain square in the center and while a fancy feather circle might have fit the square nicely, in my opinion it didn't suit the simple style of the quilt.  A pumpkin seed flower which is easy for me -- a series of arcs which are well within my comfort zone is all that is needed.
Not only is it a simple motif for me to machine quilt, it influenced the designs for other blocks because repetition in design is a good strategy visually. It also saves mental energy for me -- fewer ideas to sort through in my mind because I can focus on how to fit that design element into the blocks.
I try my ideas out with a chalk wheel -- drawing directly on the fabric to help my brain make a quicker decision about a design idea.  I've long abandoned the idea that I should be able to "visualize" -- I need to see it.  That saves me so much mental energy (which seems to be in shorter supply as I age).
Each of these blocks is repeated four times throughout the quilt so after the first block is quilted, it's easy to quilt the remaining blocks because all the hard thinking work is done.
I'm quilting the balance of the quilt with a diagonal grid.  It's simple so fits the style of the patchwork and besides, I was totally intimidated by the idea of trying to develop a design that would "reinforce" the graphic lines of the patchwork.  
Looking at antique quilt photos, I was reminded that the simple grid is a solid solution.
The trickiest part of planning a grid over patchwork is getting the spacing between the lines sorted out.  I used the chalk wheel to plan the spacing but when the reality of slight block size differences started to "mess up" my plan, I found that quilting a line from corner to corner  (which you can barely see on the right side of this picture) and then spacing the three lines (fairly) evenly between is working best.  
On the left side, you see inconsistent spacing that is the result of this strategy, but when the quilt is finished and laying out across a bed, those will just blend into the overall appearance of the quilt. 

Since I don't listen or watch "content" while I'm piecing or quilting, I get pretty reflective.

Working on this quilt has led to some 2023 planning reflection. If you've followed my musings here for several years, you know that I'm into BIG annual quilt making goals.  There was the year I set out to use 212 yards of my stash.  And that massive 2021 goal to quilt 21 quilt tops by the end of the year.

Those goals keep me motivated even though I'm only accountable to myself.  And I'm learning to be a bit flexible about reaching the goals.  For example, this year I wanted to finish 24 UFO's and eliminate 12 UFO's.  I'm not going to make the finishing goal (but I'll get to 20 which is very satisfying) but I have already exceeded the eliminating goal with 18 projects (no projects were harmed in this quest to "get real" -- sold, canceled, repurposed, or abbreviated).

Plus striving for each of those goals has impacted my skill set in very positive ways!
Shopping in my stash first is so easy because I made myself do it for an entire year.
Eliminating projects and focusing on pieces I "really" want to do has reduced the mental burden of all those old UFO's which no longer interest me on any level.  (So huge!!)
And this week, I'm realizing that all that machine quilting in 2021 has made the process of finishing a quilt top into a quilt much easier and very satisfying with lots less procrastination.

If you are in the habit of rambling around your quilt making or your knitting or whatever craft you practice, consider setting a goal to maintain more focus, build skills, and garner more satisfaction in your work.  Start by taking "inventory" of the stuff.
Then determine a priority.
That priority will help you set a goal.
And the timeline doesn't need to be an entire year if you don't think you can stay focused that long 
(but trying to might just surprise you).
A six month or three month goal can be just as motivating.  Even a month.

I'm just starting my annual "inventory" and there are two areas I'm considering.
One is the pile of antique quilt tops -- there are nine and I know they will be a problem for my heirs to disperse.  If there is any provenance, I know it but they won't.  The top my mother set together with blocks made for her by an aunt needs to stay in the family.  There are a couple that were given to me because people didn't know what to do (except not thrown them away).  There is one I could not resist at a flea market.  If I go with this as a goal, dealing with one a month could accomplish it easily and I would have 3 months to lose focus??
The other is the stack of quilt patterns I want "to make". 
Well, that's what makes quilting fun isn't it?  Starting a new project!
So perhaps picking the top four would be stimulating (but of course, I would want to finish each one in 2023 so as not to grow new UFO piles)?
And of course, there are still UFO's lurking in the corners --- argghhh?!?

The pondering continues!

I hope you are getting into some holiday frivolity this month after a couple years of so much less -- baking or going out to lunch with a friend or caroling or enjoying the winter lights.

Talk soon!


Tuesday, November 29, 2022

One of Those Days!

It's one of those days!  I'm on fire -- everything is going better than expected.  The arthritis is calm, the bed sheets are hanging outside to dry (perhaps the last time this year),

I baked cranberry bread to share and eat, even froze extra cranberries
 for winter scones and bread,
and started to layer up an antique quilt top that I've owned for over 25 years
. . . . and that was all before noon!?!

Oh, and the sewer backed up in the basement . . . . . . . . . 


well, at least it did it on a "perky" day.  This has become an annual event and I should have called for a clean-out a month ago and I did think about it, but . . . . . . you know how that goes.  Happily, I have My Plumber on speed dial and the receptionist knows my name and the plumbers know where the clean out is and where to plug in the electric?!?
They'll be here late this afternoon and I've already cleaned up the mess inside.
(Should I resent the fact that I know how to use a shop vac?)

But I didn't let it ruin my day -- nope!
I'm going to show you some fun details about this antique quilt top!

I bought it in Texas during Quilt Festival about 30 years ago.  It was the inspiration for my (least successful) pattern -- Farmer's Medallion -- and I've tried to sell the top a few times but it's still here so I'm taking that as a sign to finish it and use it (gently).

Since there has been a real lack of progress on my 2022 goal -- only one small finish of a UFO for the past month -- and George (my APQS quilting machine) has been sitting ideal since late August, it's an easy project to tackle right now.  
This top is on my target list of UFO's to finish and well suited to simple quilting.
Then when I found enough fabric in the stash for the backing and enough batting -- karma!!

The first thing about this quilt top that caught my eye was the fabric -- lots of circa 1900 shirting plaids with a sprinkling of 1880's calicos.  But when I opened it up and started to study it, WOW!  
The woman who pieced this had a strong sense of graphic design.
(I've looked for a published "pattern" but finding none, I give her full design credit.)
Focus on the navy plaid.
If you trace it from one side of the picture to the opposite, you'll begin to see the graphic design and this repeats on all four sides and is echoed in the corners.

Identical blocks are positioned symmetrically around the quilt.  The 4-patches are in the corners,

 the 9-patches are at the center of each side, 
and the simple squares are centered around a large simple center block.
The rest of the blocks are a simple scrappy design rendered in "coordinated" values all the time and colors some of the time. 
I wish I could have watched her planning and piecing process -- it's so organized it seems planned but yet, the scrappy aspect of some of the fabrics implies spontaneity as well.  There are pink prints in specific locations but there is a variety of pink prints.  That black calico at the top edge of this block is likely a mourning print and there are just ten pieces in the quilt -- precious scraps from her mother or grandmother?

There are quite a few "patched" bits which aren't as apparent from the front as from the back.  This is something we rarely do in our work today because we have so much fabric and it's so easy to buy more.  But there's a kinship to be felt when you "patch" bits together to get a big enough triangle or square.  
And it's okay -- so much historic precedence exists in vintage quilts!! 
I wrote the pattern first as a mystery quilt for the regional quilt group here in Northeast Ohio and then went on to publish it.  I found a picture of one of the "mystery" versions made by my friend and student, Mary from Ravenna.  Even without seeing a picture of the quilt, she was able to achieve the strong graphic medallion of the original quilt top using just my guidelines for  value placement (dark, medium, light).
Would any of you be interesting in having a copy of the pattern?
Let me know in the comments.  I might still have a few copies around here?

The holiday lists are upon us and the pandemic is no longer quite so scary but I don't think the holidays will be quite the same as before Covid.  I'm trying to think how to enjoy less harried holidays this year -- easing back into "celebration" mode.
How about you?

Wishing you a peaceful start to December!

P.S.  I'm changing my email address -- the new one will be 
maryhueyquilts47 at gmail dot com
Make a note because the old one will be closed during December.




Monday, November 7, 2022


 Last week a friend/follower got in touch with me to see if I was okay because I had not posted anything here for the past month.  Yes, I'm okay.  The gap is perhaps a combination of not thinking I had anything to say and not realizing an entire month had passed.   Losing track of time seems to be a growing piece of me?!?  How about you?
But I could have been in a bit of slump as well?  I don't always recognize when a bit of apathy slips into my life from time to time -- slippery slope and all that.  But I came across a handout the other day which I shared with a group of quilters I mentored in the early 2000's -- Dealing With The Slumps.  Hmm?  Coincidence?  Probably not according to my belief system!

I organized the handout as a summary of a monthly gathering in which we discussed three aspects of creative slumps.
How to recognize the slumps.
How to diagnose what is happening and why.
How to face and get through them.

(The primary purpose of today's pictures is to give you a break in the text and may not have anything to do with the text -- LOL.)
Three of these migrating hermit thrushes spent five days in my garden thanks to that big pokeberry!!

Reviewing the group's responses gave me some much needed insight and so I thought I'd share them with you as well.

Although we were specifically addressing "creative slumps" as it pertained to our quiltmaking, I think the insights shared apply to any situation.  The group agreed "slumps" manifest themselves as the inability to focus on the things we want to do, not being interested in the things we love doing, a negative or apathetic attitude, fatigue, boredom, and may occur when we are experiencing unusual stress that may not have anything to do with our quiltmaking (or knitting or baking or exploring the world). 

Realizing I'm in a slump is one thing but getting to the root of it's cause(s) is important to help me find a way out and perhaps avoid a future slump.  The group suggested several possible causes of slumps.  Stress, of course.  Interruption to our normal routine (like a pandemic).  Being faced with hard/difficult decisions or tasks we don't enjoy is another trigger.  One of my frequent slump triggers is a bad case of too many "shoulds" coming before all the "funs".  And then there is the bane of our modern society -- too many commitments which can build up to a serious case of resentment towards the world.

It's a finished project -- Part II of the Sharks Dinner BOM from 2019!!

Recognizing what is triggering a slump is only helpful if it is followed by action but it's hard to motivate myself when I'm in a slump.    So here are some ideas from the group!

For those of us who are overwhelmed by too much to do, it might be helpful to write out or list steps necessary to complete a big task -- the old break-it-down into manageable increments. Once I've done that, I can figure out the best order of tasks plus I can "cross off" what's done -- I like measuring my progress! 
Sometimes a "step" might be eliminating tasks.  I've surprised myself this year by eliminating quilt projects/UFO's from my "to-do" list -- my goal was to eliminate 12 for the year but I'm at about 20 with two months to go.  I'm getting ready for a local guild's annual "garage sale" for quilters at the end of this week and there are a couple nice UFO's that might be available to some lucky shopper. . . like this set of 21 hand-pieced (mid-1800's reproduction fabrics) 9-patches with a big stack of more squares??

We concluded the discussion by talking about maintaining routines that enhance a positive attitude.  I've had a hard time admitting that my "messy" work areas (may) affect my attitude.  One of the perks of being retired is that I'm tidying up those work areas more regularly and it's been a great strategy.

  Preplanning what you will do "next time" you sew (knit, crochet, etc.) is another important strategy for me -- for years I've had the habit of laying out what I'll do "tomorrow" at the machine or in my hand stitching corner.  That way I don't have to think when I come back, I just need to sit down and go to work.  The work calms me and engages my brain in such a way that things (usually) go smoothly and I'm productive regardless of my mental state -- cranky, tired, bored.  I give that strategy credit for keeping me caught up on this big year long project -- Homage to Grandmothers Flower Garden from Katja Marek!!

When faced with a task you don't enjoy, lean on friends!  They may have new-to-you ideas and experience that will help. I'm not talking about the "you ought to" advice -- that's not helpful.  But there might be a different way -- job it out, do it with a friend?  Perhaps standards need to be modified.  That is what got me through quilting 21 quilt tops last year -- I "lowered" my standards.  Not really, but I did accept my skill and energy limitations.  Instead of quilting feathers, I fell in love with Baptist fan -- so doable!!!  Had I feel compelled to quilt all of those tops "awesomely", I would never have met my goal!  For me right now, a big part of accomplishing things has become working with my growing limitations as a result of ageing -- bucking nature is exhausting so I'm trying to be content and go with the flow.  Some days just "going" is an accomplishment!?!

Yep, there's a new project!

At the end of the handout, I shared a reminder to think about the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly or moth -- first it has to work hard to find all the food it needs, then it has to sit patiently in a chrysalis or cocoon and then it has to work it's way out of that, inflate its wings and let them dry until finally it's ready to go!?!   Here's a time lapse that will give you a peek at the final stage.
It's a good illustration of how we emerge from a slump -- hard work and patience!

So there you go -- food for thought to start off a new week!!
It feels like it has helped me to write it out for you and I hope it might spark energy for you!


PS -- that Quilters Garage Sale is Saturday, November 12 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the lower level of the Streetsboro United Methodist Church, 8940 State Route 43, Streetsboro, Ohio 44241
I'll be there with "treasures" -- books, quilting stencils, a little fabric, a few finished pieces, patterns, maybe some scrap bags, etc.
Soup and beverages will be available to benefit the Streetsboro Food Pantry

And it would be fun to see you!!


Friday, September 30, 2022

Now It's Fall!!

No doubt about it after this past week -- the day the calendar said "autumn begins", it began with a wallop here in Northeast Ohio.  The temperatures dropped and the rain and the wind came for a long weekend.  Nothing like the hurricanes in the Caribbean and Florida, but that's why I've retired here in NEOhio!!

I just came inside from doing what will likely be my last Ask A Bumble Bee survey for the season.  I started in mid June and have done about 10 surveys in my yard and several local parks.  It involved photographing all the blooming plants and counting how many (if any) bumble bees were foraging on them.  I didn't have to ID the bees beyond being "bumbles" but after a summer following them around the yard, I know this is a Common Eastern and it's a male and he is nectaring on Little White Aster which I've let go where ever they want to grow because all the bees love them!

It's been very interesting to see how much the bumbles prefer native-to-this-region blooming plants.  For example, they were using the single dahlia blooms for nectar and resting . . . . until the asters started and now they have abandoned the dahlias and are all over the asters.   These three male bumbles aren't actually nectaring -- they are hanging out until it warms up a bit.  Such a fun picture!!

  I was surprised to see how many of my beautiful non-native perennial flowers were completely ignored by the bumbles during their bloom periods.  The experience has firmed up my resolve to convert my lovely gardens into a native plant and insect habitat!  All new plants must be native like these little late blooming cuties -- Calico Asters!!

 And while I'm on the subject of "gardens", for years I've been hoarding all the leaves that drop in my yard and using them for winter mulch on my flower beds without realizing how important it was for native insects -- I was mainly being lazy and practical.  Leaving the leaves in the flower beds meant not having to haul them to the street for pickup and saving me money on mulch.  During the past couple winters I've watched webinars about native pollinating insects (bees and such) and learned "leaving the leaves" not only saves me the work and money, it is also good for native insects in my habitat!  HERE is an explanation of why it's a good thing for nature.   This fall I'll be "leaving the leaves" again to enhance the vitality of my little backyard habitat and to save personal energy!!

The arrival of October means I only have three more months to reach my goal of dealing with at least 36 UFO's this year -- finishing 24 of them and eliminating 12 of them.  Turns out I'm really into "eliminating" at the moment -- I'm up to 18 so far?!?  The more I eliminate, the easier it seems to become!  

However, I am a "little" behind on the finishing so to refocus myself, I put this piece up on the design wall where I have to look at it every time I sit down at my sewing machine.  I stalled out on it last year -- I still like the design but the designer's suggested "assembly" process is a problem for me.  Too modern, perhaps?  So I've gone a little bit rogue?!?  Once the polygons are stitched to the background down through the center lines of them, the designer suggested layering it for quilting.  Then the quilting was to be densely spaced vertical lines which would attach the rest of the polygons to the quilt simultaneously.  In my opinion, it would make the finished piece stiffer than I like and so I was reluctant to follow that suggestion.

In an effort to get the project moving, I cleared off the cutting table ( a very rare but satisfying occurrence),
laid the piece flat and pinned everything down.  The designer gave an alternative step -- hand applique the polygons in place but since I'm not loving the process so much at this point, and . . . .
. . . . . . . having just finished that big EPP project by hand I wanted an easier hand stitching project right now.  So I elected to wrestle with this piece at the machine for a few days to topstitch the polygons in place.
That step is finished and the top is back on the design wall waiting for a long afternoon of sewing time to build borders around it, expanding the top into a nice size lap robe.  As I was choosing thread for the topstitching, I realized this piece is basically a classic triad color scheme -- orange,  violet, and green -- which I've used before.  Thinking back to all the lessons I learned working through the book, Color From the Heart by Gai Perry almost two decades ago!  It's still available and a classic for sure!
My fabric palette started with a couple 5" charm paks and leftovers from a layer cake -- all from different designers.  I'm always trying to show that mixing "collections" works just fine.

The hand stitching project I mentioned is to big-stitch quilt the other six EPP blocks I made in 2019 from the #sharksdinner block of the month.  It was easy to pick up since I layered the blocks last December while finishing the first six blocks into a laprobe.  The big stitch quilting is going well and last evening I started quilting the fifth block -- this will be finished soon!!
I have finished quite a few quilts using big-stitch -- it goes quickly and is pleasant to do since the stitch length is a bit loosey-goosey and I love playing with all the heavier pearle cotton threads!
I entered the "matching" lap quilt I finished in December from the other set of these blocks into a local quilt show this weekend.  We are going to see it tomorrow and it will be fun to be back in a quilt show mode -- seeing lots of former customers and students, doing a little shopping, and checking out what everyone has been up to over the past couple years.

On the triplet grandkid front, the first day of nursery school came and went with no meltdowns.  They are so lucky to have a built-in "gang" to hang out with no matter where they go -- a triplet advantage!!  (It's funny how they always seem to line up in birth order from left to right.)
However, I did flunk "Grandma 101" the middle of September by forgetting my oldest grandson's birthday -- had to grovel a bit.  I really need to write everyone's birthdays in my calendar for 2023 so I don't do that again!!!

Keep stitching!!

Friday, September 16, 2022


I'm one of those holdouts -- fall starts on September 22!  The fall quilts and pumpkins don't come out until my calendar says "first day of autumn".

But that's less than a week away -- how did that happen??  I still have summer stuff to do!?!  Which I must say/feel every year . . . . . especially pertaining to the garden.  So this week has been about buckling down and getting those tasks finished.  Every morning, I've made myself start the day with a 30 to 45 minute work session in the front gardens.  And I have to say, I'm happy to be able to do it myself (as long as I don't exceed the 45 minute time frame).  My back is in the best shape it's been for a couple years thanks in a large part to the strength building exercises my physical therapist convinced me to do everyday!

It's so beautiful out there right now, too!!  Check out this pokeberry fruit!  It's a huge plant and many gardeners would chide me for allowing it to persist but I live with the hope that it feeds bees when flowering and birds in the fall -- the cardinals do spend a lot of time foraging in it though I'm not sure if its for the fruit or the insects who may be sucking on the fruit.  A couple years ago, I watched a butterfly suck juice out of the berries -- that could happen again!!

And the native asters and goldenrods are in full bloom drawing in dozens of insects -- butterflies, bees, and beetles with a couple savvy spiders.
The "empty the file cabinet" project is progressing slowly not because I'm not trying but because it's so easy to get distracted by all the projects in that room.  I have finished up four small quilt tops and organized backings to donate to a local guild for their annual charity workday next May.
Four less UFO's and the pile is a bit tidier?!?
I fell a bit behind on Katja Marek's Homage to Grandmothers Flower Garden over the past month so that has been my stitching focus this week -- almost caught up!!  I hope that by the time part #38 is released this Sunday, I'll only be one week behind.  It is in two big pieces at the moment and living on the "extra" design wall.  Since I'm machine piecing it, I'm assembling a few sections and then adding them to the rest so it's less cumbersome at the machine so what you see is two large sections overlapped to fit on the design wall.  There are some beautiful versions happening around the world and if you are an Instagram user, check out the #homagetogfg hashtag to see some of them!
I finished the hand-stitched piecing of Jemina's Creative Quilting's mystery quilt from this past winter a couple days ago.  Whew!!  It's ready for the borders but I'm taking a break from it to hand quilt a UFO that has been patiently waiting for my attention since December.  I used 3/4" hexagons and at this point it's about 52" square.  Next challenge is the "how to quilt" question??
I did have a sweet little finish this past week.  Perhaps twenty years ago, after a very successful machine quilting lesson with Sue . . . . . where is her last name, she lived in Michigan, think brain think . . . . I confidently started making this charming tea cozy.  
But you guessed it, I never finished it.  Each time I uncover it in a studio tidy-up, I set it aside with the intention to finish it but never do.  True to form, I laid it on the cutting table last week to consider it again. 

Happily, as I waffled -- do it or let it go, Mary? -- I came across a tiny Dresden plate teaching sample and as I was putting it into the "orphan blocks" basket, my creative fairy pointed out the size might be a perfect applique for the unfinished cozy?  Sure enough it was and then I got out the pink button jar and while I was playing with the buttons, I noticed another UFO with lots of pearle cotton stitchery embellishment . . . . .
and as only you can understand as a fellow quilter, everything came to a grinding halt while I finished the tea cozy -- in about two hours!
So I owe Marjorie, the designer, an apology for going off the rails but it's wonderful to have it finished and out of the UFO pile!!  Doesn't it look perfect with the tray mat I made last year from orphan blocks?
No doubt, the reason I've never finished this was a fear of not being able to achieve the same degree of machine quilting accuracy since I rarely do anything that detailed anymore.  Often the key to finishing a UFO for me is to let go of the original intention and modify things to my current skills, interest, taste, time, etc.  If I have no need for a king size quilt anymore or I've changed the color scheme of my home, it's okay to finish the blocks I have pieced into a laprobe and put the leftover fabric into the stash (which feels a bit like going on a free shopping trip). Why bludgeon myself into finishing something I don't want anymore -- the time and perhaps money necessary to do that are better spent doing what inspires me currently!  
I've found repurposing, merging, rethinking to be a marvelous creative boost for myself.  
I encourage you to apply a similar strategy to your UFO's by asking yourself "what else could that become"?

Happy Fall (or spring if you are a southerner)

P.S. I think Sue's last name started with a W?  Can you think of it??