Thursday, March 31, 2022

Wrapping up March!

March can be a tough month here in Northeast Ohio -- the ice is gone from Lake Erie but it's still a rough place to earn a living -- this red-breasted merganser doesn't seem to mind the cold water and the wind but the rest of us are all staying in the sheltered spots -- outdoors and indoors.
But the bluebell foliage is popping up
and Harbinger of Spring is in full bloom so soon our focus will shift to all those things we can't do in the winter!!  Thank goodness!!
Thanks for the encouragement shared after my last (fretful) post about my back.  I'm just home from my monthly maintenance appointment with my physical therapist and she answered a bunch of questions for me and calmed me down a great deal.  We decided on a couple new things I can try and she assured me that I'm doing well under the circumstances -- we've worked together for four years and the strategy has helped during that time.  So I'm feeling much more confident.

So "fretting" is a hassle but seems to be a necessary part of my problem solving style.  I don't just sit and fret though -- I stitch and fret or I walk and fret so maybe that makes me a productive fretter?
Both of those activities are "default" modes that calm me down and I hope everyone knows what their best default activities are!!

In spite of the fretting, I scored some quilt finishes and got back on track with a knitting project.  These socks have been buried in the basket next to my cozy chair for over 2 months -- I "frogged" one and a half socks and just started again -- the hardest part of a failing knit project is working up the courage to "frog" -- once that is done, it's easy to get back on track.  Boy, is it hard to unknit all that work!!
I finished up two small quilts out of my WIP piles from the past.
This sweetie is Vanity Flair by Karen Ackva at and I used a "layer cake" for the design.  There are even leftovers squares from the layer cake!
I got hung up on the quilting but eventually broke through the wall and bound it last week!
This scrappy pinwheel was a teaching sample using an assortment of batiks from my Marti Michell tool teaching days.  I even have a recipient in mind which spurred me on so this quilt won't be languishing on the guest bed!!
And look at the backing fabric -- love it!!  So glad I impulsively bought the end of the bolt when I saw it -- enough for the quilt back and a half yard for my stash!!
Another teaching sample using Michell templates -- I love piecing this block and it was a popular workshop so I have several blocks to finish.  
This is a table mat and will be the perfect gift one of these days!
The local quilt show at Lake Farmpark in Kirtland, Ohio opens for a month this evening.  I entered my birth year temperature quilt and am headed out there for the opening this evening.  Always fun to see the quilts and the people, many of whom have been students and customers in the past.

My scrappy Forever Friends quilt blocks have all the sashing attached and another hour of stitching will have the blocks set together -- really love this top!!  I'm up to date with this hexie project and still plodding along with the hand-pieced one.  
I even spent 30 minutes yesterday working out a finishing plan for another WIP and tomorrow, April 1, I get to eliminate another project from the UFO/WIP list I made in January -- yipee!!  If I stick with it as well this year as I did last year, I should have such a tiny list to start 2023!?!

Now back to watching the seasons change!


Monday, March 14, 2022

The Ups and The Downs

I don't like change!  How about you?

It took me a while (as I'm sure it did you) to settle into a Covid way of life and find a level of contentment in what I could safely function.  Now it seems I have to reverse engines and go back the other way.  The question is how far back do I want to go? 

As things would have it, an official diagnosis of arthritis in my back last week will be a factor in my return to "normal" (whatever that is?).  It's been suspected for several years and I've actually been taking steps to manage it with monthly maintenance sessions with a physical therapist, monthly massages, and a morning stretching routine since it was first a possible reason for my back issues.  But something about having the doctor say where it's located and that it's "severe" threw me for a bit of a loop and I spent lots of time last week fretting about what this means long term -- the DOWNS.

  I have to fret -- that's how I deal with change -- but today I'm done with the fretting and ready to make changes that will enable me to feel energetic and as pain-free as possible.

Thank goodness for my sewing!!  It has been my default for a long time when fretting -- the familiar actions of piecing calm me down and allow the rational, practical part of my character to activate.  While I haven't had any finishes for almost a month, I've made lots of progress on a variety of projects since doing anything more than 30 minutes at a time leads to backaches so lots of changing up around here!?!

My version of @jemimas_creative_quilting EPP project has finally reached part 7.  The auditioning for each part goes slowly and I waffle about fabric choices though being a couple steps behind the release of the mystery parts is a bit of an advantage because I know where the design is going.  Actually, as I write this and look at the picture, I think the picture will help me make a couple of decisions.  I work on it during the evenings (watching murderous English TV series) and during webinars about native plants and pollinator insects (which are abundant right now).

I finished the blocks for Forever Friends (in the  book, Sisterhood of Scraps) -- settled on 24 blocks and started adding the sashing and setting the blocks together. 

 It should be about 40" by 60" -- nice laprobe!
I think I found a pressing misprint in the instructions for the strip sets in steps 6 (page 39) and 8 (page 41).  I noticed I was having to re-press every corner unit as I set the blocks together.  I tried pressing the strip sets opposite to the instructions and didn't have to do that anymore.  So if you try out this pattern, keep that in mind and see if you have the same experience.
Yesterday, I tidied up all the strips and had an inspiration -- drat?!?
Warm versus cool log cabin or pineapple blocks!?!  Sorted and ready to go!!!
But I'm not allowing myself to start that until I get this top quilted (and there are a few ahead of it in that queue) -- I need to cut more warm strips anyway.
For the moment, I'm caught up with Katja Marek's current sewalong, too!  Weeks 1 through 10 are pieced!  
This is a close up of the "wreath" so far.   I'm using stash fabrics and my only fear is that I'll use up all my light blues . . . . but then I'll have to shop!!!
I'm a little behind on the pressing but doesn't it look great when it's done?
Week 11's flower is pink and I'll use it as "leaders and enders" as I assemble the Friends Forever top.
I managed to get back into my early morning machine quilting habit over the weekend -- finished one small piece and started working on this small quilt.  Seems to be the best strategy for me -- quilt 30 minutes first thing!
How's this for a cheerful bouquet?  There are a half dozen amaryllis bulbs in this big bowl -- I have more red than I remembered but a couple have yet to open so hoping the white one and the red and white striped one are among them.
We are expecting a week of mild weather here in Northeast Ohio -- that will be good!!
It  makes it so much easier to convince myself to go outside!  I'm looking forward to spring "firsts" as always -- the first red-winged blackbird is here, the turkey vultures are back, the garden witch hazel bushes are blooming and skunk cabbage has been sighted.  Singing frogs should be soon and I'm checking everyday for the rhubarb plant to poke through.  That also means it is time to cover the strawberry bed so the deer don't browse the plants and shift the pots full of spring bulbs to the patio entrance.

Looking forward to a week of being UP!