Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Beautiful Weekend!

It's been a beautiful fall weekend in southeastern Wisconsin!  The temperature was great, skies were sunny, and the trees are all turning.  This is a very pretty time of year here. I had great plans for the weekend, but scrapped most of them to sit on the deck and stitch and read instead.  We won't get too many more of these weekends before the snow flies, so I have to strike while the iron's hot.

 I finished my May banner...

and my June banner.  I'm slowly getting caught up, but now I'm skipping a few months to work on October's banner.  My geraniums on the deck are still pretty, despite a few frosts lately.

All the blocks for Evelyn's Album (Block of the Week from Primitive Gatherings) are done, and waiting for the next step.  Since I'm #507 on the waiting list for a finishing kit, these will go into a box for a little while, I think!

And the freebie blocks from the summer are all stitched.  I have the finishing kit for these, so plan to work on getting this together next.

The house is decorated for Halloween.  I got out one of my favorite quilts.

This is Pumpkin Crazy, from one of the Need'l Love books a few years ago.  I've always loved purple, green and orange for Halloween.   A store in town had kits for this quilt, with hand-dyed flannels for the pumpkins and leaves.  The crazy stitches are by hand, and I machine quilted it on my domestic machine. 

 Holly enjoyed some deck time this weekend, too!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Orca Bay Spare Parts

My Orca Bay top is done!  I started this quilt last winter when Bonnie Hunter started her mystery sew-along, and most of the blocks were finished as the mystery went along.  When we got to the part about putting it all together, I laid out my blocks and wasn't crazy about the way they looked, so the blocks all got put into a box in the closet.

Every time I opened the closet this summer, those blocks begged to come out and get put together, so last week I finally listened to them and put them all together.  I have to say, they must have spent their summer in the closet doing stretching exercises, because all the string-pieced blocks were really stretchy on one side.  But I battled them into place, and once I got the borders on, I really like they way they looked.  I love the borders on this - I think it adds a lot to the finished quilt. 

I have a few spare parts left over.  I thought I had everything counted out correctly, but it's very possible I miscounted.  There were a thousand parts to this quilt!  I think I'll try to incorporate some of these parts into the label, once I get around to quilting this.

So now I'm ready for Bonnie's new mystery this year.  Orca Bay was the first one I've done, and it was really time-consuming and involved a whole lot of piecing, but it did really use up a lot of stash fabrics (not that you can really tell there's anything missing from my scrap box!).  This quilt kept me busy and out of trouble last winter, so I think I'll try her new one in a couple months.  This was my first try at string piecing.  These blocks aren't perfect, but this is the busiest quilt I've ever made, so I doubt anyone will notice unless they are trying to find problems.  If they're looking that hard, they deserve to be rewarded by finding something!

I also finished up a couple wool pieces -
One is my last wool Mat of the Month from Primitive Gatherings, and the right one is my Banner of the Month.  I'm months behind in the banners - I think this one is either May or June.  I'd better get going on the fall ones!

We've been having beautiful fall weather the last couple weeks - a very welcome change after this summer!

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, September 10, 2012

One Hour With Needle and Thread

It's time to report our success (or failure!) in Bonnie Hunter's One Hour With Needle and Thread challenge.  I have to confess that I didn't keep exact track of my time, but I did stitch for at least an hour a day.  I made quite a bit of progress on this quilt
It's easy to forget how time-consuming hand quilting is!  I quilted quite a bit on this house block, but I think it's done now and time to move on to another section.

I also did the blanket stitching on the Friendship Garden quilt that was started on the cruise.   The flowers, basket, leaves and stems are all wool, so they are blanket stitched down.  There is a cute kit of colored buttons that match this project that will go on the top part.  I'm trying to decide whether to machine or hand-quilt this.  It's a small wall hanging size, but that hand-quilting takes a lot of time!  Do you see those hexie flowers?  Pam Buda taught a class on English paper piecing that was great and very timely, as I'm seeing hexie flowers in every magazine lately!

The cruise mentioned above was the Great Girlfriend Getaway to Alaska that was held near the end of August.  It was a wonderful trip, with lots of time to sew and see the sights in Alaska.  The cruise left from Seattle and stopped in Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, and Victoria.  We had never been to Alaska before, so it was fun to see the sights and learn a little bit about Alaska.  The weather was fairly cloudy/rainy, which is pretty typical of August from what we heard, but most days cleared off enough to go sightseeing.  On the days we were at sea, we had our quilt classes.  The teachers were Pam Buda of Heartspun Quilts and Lynn Hagemeier of Kansas Troubles Quilters, both great teachers.  There were new Janome sewing machines to sew on, and the owners of the sewing machine store were with us to rethread our machines and refill our bobbins.  That was quilting heaven!

We started three new projects.  The first, Stillwater Creek, is a fairly large lap quilt made from Pam's new fabric line, Heart of the Prairie.

We also started the Friendship Garden quilt above, and another top called Spare Change from Kansas Troubles Quilters, which used a charm pack and the new Quilt Candy from Moda.  The teachers and travel consultant really spoiled us on this trip - every time we came to class, there were new treats like little kits, fat quarters and thread catchers.  They also had a door prize drawing for a new sewing machine, Go Cutter, and several other great prizes, none of which I won!

The best part of the trip was meeting the teachers and other quilters and getting to know them a little bit.  I got to meet two fellow bloggers, Lesley of The Cuddle Quilter and Gloria of Olde Green Cupboard Designs.

We took lots of pictures, so I'll show you a couple.  We climbed partway up a mountainside in Skagway and took this picture of our ship, the Norwegian Pearl.  There were always several cruise ships in the ports we stopped in.   The low-hanging fog/clouds were pretty typical of this trip!

Glacier Bay was beautiful.  The water was so still and green.  The ship got close enough to the glaciers that you can hear pieces of them breaking off and dropping into the water.

If you ever get a chance to go on a Quilter's Cruise, do it! 

This trip has inspired me to get out my Orca Bay blocks and start to put them together.  Now that I've seen whales in the ocean, I'm inspired to finish it!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Meeting Bonnie's Challenge

Bonnie Hunter has challenged us to put aside an hour a day for handwork, and I'm in!  I love to hand quilt but haven't been doing it much lately; this is just the motivation I need.  Here's the project I'm working on first:
This is a Jan Patek Girl Gang quilt top I made for a shop that I used to make models for.  When I got it out earlier this year, the following conversation ensued:

Me:  I'm going to finish this quilt!
My Family:  Why does it say "02"?
Me:  Because I made it in 2002.
My Family (incredulously) But that's ten years ago!!!
Me: Yes.  (thinking...If they only knew...)

True confessions time:  Remember in 1999 when we all got the Y2K bug and traded 25 squares of fabric and signature squares, with the intentions of making a quilt with 2,000 pieces for the new millenium?  Do you remember seeing my finished quilt on the Internet?  No, you probably don't remember seeing it, because the squares are still sitting in their little envelopes in a box in my closet!   Am I the only one who hasn't started it yet?  My excuse is that I haven't had an idea good enough to start, but you'd think in 13 years something would have occurred to me!  I did a really great job collecting the squares - I have all the states, provinces of Canada, and lots of countries, too.  I can probably make two or three quilts when I get around to it.  I still have all the letters, too.  One of these days I'll reread all of them and start the quilts.

OK, I got off track.  This Girl Gang quilt is really soft and cuddly - it's flannel with a soft batting.  It needs a few hours of hand quilting, and then it will be done, only ten years after it was pieced.  It's also one of the UFOs on the list on my sidebar to get done this year, so I'm off to start right now...

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A Lovely Surprise

A nice treat arrived in my mailbox yesterday!  It's a beautiful pincushion from my friend Donna at Brynwood Needleworks.  Donna does wonderful silk ribbon embroidery.  That's one craft I've never really tried, so I'm happy to have this pretty example.  It's on a very sweet little Shakerwood style box.  It's way too pretty to stick pins into, though.  I think it will look very nice on a shelf in my sewing room.

There's a much better picture of it on Donna's website.  Thank you, my friend - I will treasure this!

I haven't posted much lately because I've been off on a quilting cruise to Alaska!  We just got back Monday.  Once I get organized, I'll post some pictures. It was a wonderful time, and if you've been thinking about a quilting cruise, I would highly recommend it.  It was the perfect mix of quilting and sightseeing.