Sunday, April 27, 2014

It's Not All Quilting Around Here!

About a year ago, I decided to get more serious about nutrition and fitness.  My workplace offered a six-month program starting last May, so I enrolled in that.  Although it was a lot of work and required a minimum of five hours of exercise a week, I had good success with it, and when it was over in October, I thought I'd better do some things to keep myself exercising.  Some "friends" at work convinced me to sign up for a half-marathon with them.  As part of the training, I signed up for the Colorburst 5K, a local race that was held yesterday.  I'm thrilled to announce that I finished it!  I even ran almost all of it.  (I should mention that this sort of thing is totally foreign to me.  I've never really been all that athletic.) The Colorburst is more of a "fun run" in that it's not timed and you can walk or run.  You are given a white t-shirt, and as you pass each kilometer mark, they throw color at you, so when you're done, the white t-shirt looks more tie-dyed. 

The start of the race
There were about 600 people in the race, including lots of kids, strollers and wagons.  As you can see, it was a lousy day for a race.  What you can't see is that it was 42 degrees, with a stiff wind coming off the lake in the background.  I had a sweatshirt under my t-shirt, but I wasn't dressed nearly warmly enough for this race.  Lots of people had gloves and earmuffs, so I'll do that next time!  Anyway, I'm just glad I was able to finish it, and as cold as it was, I don't think I even broke a sweat.  If you live in Wisconsin, you gotta be tough, I guess.  The half-marathon is in about a month, so we'll see if I survive that.  I just hope it's warmer that day!

The Country Threads UFO Challenge for April was my Star Spangled Banner Cross-Stitch pillow, so I finished that yesterday while I was thawing out from the race.  The cross-stitch was already done, so I just had to assemble it into a pillow and stuff it.  It's a big pillow - I think it finished at 21" long.  This was a kit I picked up at Country Sampler last summer.

While I was in the pillow-finishing mood, I finished a couple other cross-stitch pillows.

This is Butternut Tavern from Stacy Nash Primitives, another kit from Country Sampler. 

And last but not least...
This is My Country from La-D-Da, also a kit from Country Sampler.  This was a pretty quick one to stitch.  I really like the grungy pom-pom trim that came with the kit, but it was a real bear for me to put on.  I had to redo it three times.  I think I'm dyslexic when it comes to sewing trim on a pillow - it always ends up sticking into the seam allowance between the top and backing, instead of on the outside.  Anyway, I finally got it right, but when I tried to iron the cross-stitch piece, some of the pom-poms melted a little.  I'm guessing these are polyester.  So some of the trim is a little more "primitive" than initially planned, but I'm not changing it!  I like the pillow now that it's done, and if I had to do it over, I could put the trim on in ten minutes tops.  It was just a steep learning curve (like so much of quilting!)

It appears that I'm ready for the 4th of July, doesn't it? 

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Fun Week!

Last week we were on vacation - a staycation.  Those are the most fun!  I had several things I wanted to do, and accomplished some of them, although the weather could have been better.  I don't think spring is ever going to get here this year.

One of my fun plans was to take a Working with Wool class at Primitive Gatherings in Menasha.  I live really close, and just never seem to get around to that.  When I walked into the class, I was so surprised to see my friend Jodi!  So Wednesday was a fun day sewing with Jodi and her friend Maggie, as well as about 20 other quilters.  The class was great - even though I've worked with wool a lot, I learned several ways to make it better.  We started a wool penny mat, and mine is still in about the same status as when I left the class.
If you ever have a chance to take a class with Lisa Bongean, do it - you will be very happy with what you learn. The centers of my pennies look a lot better now, and I learned how to join them together.

Because of the nasty weather, I was able to spend a lot of time in my sewing room, so I wasn't really too sad about not being outside!  One of my goals was to get this monster put together:
This is Words to Live By, last summer's Block of the Week from Primitive Gatherings.  My goal was to get the blocks trimmed and set together.  I debated a long time about whether I wanted to make all the half-square triangles for the outside borders, but I had the finishing kit, so decided to make it as it was designed.  There are 672 half-square triangles, if you're counting!  I used the Star Singles paper, which I like a lot.  This quilt is huge, so I had trouble getting it all into a picture. 

Anyway, it's all put together and ready to go into the to-be-quilted someday stack, along with its many friends. I didn't put the words on it - I tried writing them on a scrap and they looked terrible, so I think mine will be named Too Many Triangles or something.

Another goal was to finish a second Boxy Stars for donation.  This quilt was already pieced, so I just had to finish it.
I've been trying to teach myself some new free-motion motifs to use on my Juki, so this quilt got flowers, leaves and swirls.  Deciding what to quilt is the hardest part for me.
It turned out pretty well, so I think it will be a Hands2Help donation quilt.  I really like making this Boxy Stars pattern, and may make another one or two.  You can find the free pattern on Bonnie Hunter's website

My other finish was Chessies' Needlebook, a cross-stitch pattern I've had done for a long time.  I learned how to do the finishing last summer, but just hadn't gotten around to doing it.
You can see that I did the cross-stitch part two years ago!  The inside has wool for pins and needles.
I'm happy to have this done so that I can use it.  I put some of my Grandma's old buttons on the back and inside. 

So, vacation is over...I didn't get everything I wanted done!  It was fun while it lasted.

My UFO for the Country Threads challenge is a star cross-stitch that I need to make into a pillow, so I should be back with a finish before the end of the month.