Monthly Archives: December 2013

I Like Red… A Lot

redwork embroidery toujours l'amour french market threads need'l loveThe color red always makes me hungry… apples, beets, cayenne pepper, cherries, cranberries, currants, guava, kidney beans, pomegranates, radishes, red bell peppers, red cabbage, red plums, rhubarb, strawberries, tomatoes, watermelon – yum!  So how many more food items have I left off the list?

Is there anything more truly luscious than red?

It doesn’t much matter the tone – I like reds anywhere from the reddish-pink to a very nearly burgundy red.  Currently (and that gets me thinking about that red of a different color), I favor the tomato red.

I like reds in hand embroidery.  The image above is a piece of redwork that I finished (mumble) years ago and it’s been languishing in a UFO drawer ever since.  I know that it wants to become a pillow, and I’ve been waiting somewhat patiently for inspiration to strike, but it better strike soon or I’ll have to start referring to this piece as my vintage redwork.  And what if it begins to compost… (gasp)?

If you’re curious, the pattern is from a Needl’l Love book called French Market Threads, and happily it’s still in publication.  There are a lot of fun projects inside, including some quilts that are still on my to-do list.

I like reds in a quilt, too.  Anything from itty bitty pieces in a scrap quilt, to an entirely red quilt (with some neutrals tossed in just because).

Kansas Troubles Kaye Egland Civil War Legacy Stitchin' Witches Quilt AlongAnd as of today, I am all caught up with Stitchin’ Witches Quilt Along.  I have officially pressed the last seam in segment #8, Kansas Troubles. I had the idea that perhaps this would be the segment where I toned down the reds somewhat.  Wrong again.  If anything, I think that I added more red prints than before – that green almost looks like an oversight.

split triangles bonnie hunter celtic solstice mystery 2013No, it’s not red, but I do like orange as well.  I’m still plugging away at the components for Bonnie Hunter’s mystery quilt, Celtic Solstice.  I’ve got everything finished in Parts 1-4, but a mere 5 of the split triangle units for Part 5 are completed (sorry – that doesn’t make for much in the way of scrappy variety for the photo).  I only need 100 total of this particular component, and I’m positive that I can get the remaining 95 knocked out easy before Part 6 goes live on Friday morning.

We’re getting so close to Bonnie’s reveal.

mikado tomatoo seed packetPS – Barbara Brackman has given us a heads-up on a new Civil War BOM that begins January 25, 2014.  I haven’t quite decided for sure, but I’m wavering.

I’m such a soft touch when a quilt along is mentioned.

Are You All Right, Mr. Scrooge?

snowbelle 003The wee snow-lady above is called Snow Belle.  She was designed by Susan Fuquay and made by me way back in 2005, so she isn’t one of my newer quilts – on the contrary she’s a retread.  But aren’t many of our holiday traditions and decorations retreads?  We haul them down out of the attic, or from a high shelf in a closet or garage year after year.  The season would seem a little off kilter if I didn’t bring out the well used, and in some cases, the tired and faded components of what constitutes Christmas in our home.

Would it really be Christmas without the tawdry little yarn snowmen I made for our Christmas tree the year we were married?  And the egg ornaments, decoupaged with brightly colored calicoes, from that same year?  Christmas traditions come in many forms; the cinnamon apples at dinner when a certain brother-in-law comes to visit, peanut butter cookies and peanut brittle for my sisters, and let’s not forget the Christmas movies – they’re the gravy on the mashed potatoes, the ice cream on the apple pie, the melty marshmallows on the candied yams, the aristocracy of retreads… or at least they are in my world.

fredschristmaspartyIt doesn’t matter how much decorating goes on around the house, the holiday season hasn’t officially begun until I screen the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol starring Alastair Sim.

What in particular do I love about this movie?  For one, the soundtrack is exceptional.  How about the music played by the fiddlers at Mr. Fezziwig’s Christmas Party?  The name of that ditty is Sir Roger de Coverley, and I dare you not to tap your toes when you hear it played.  There isn’t a better musical introduction for the Ghost of Christmas Present than Oranges and Lemons to convey a child’s sense of wonder and plenty.  Then the hauntingly beautiful song, Barbara Allen.  It was played as background throughout the movie, and sung as a duet at Fred’s Christmas party.

Oohoohooh – and what about Mrs. Dilber’s happy shout, “Bob’s yer uncle!” when Scrooge, for the first time, gives his charwoman a Christmas present?  (Niagara Falls, Frankie Angel)

Is this way more about A Christmas Carol than you ever wanted to know?  Okay… moving along.

rudolph2A Christmas Carol must be followed immediately by the Max Fleischer cartoon, Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, from 1944.

After that, it’s Katie, bar the door… the evenings leading up to the big day are filled, in no particular order, with Scrooged (1988), A Christmas Story (1983), White Christmas (1954), Christmas In Connecticut (1945), Holiday Inn (1942) which  happens to be the Mister’s least favorite, Penny Serenade (1941), and How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966).

One last thought:  It’s odd, but Snow Belle has never made it out of the sewing room.  Oh, she gets moved to the front of the stack of little quilts so I can spy her whenever I walk past, but perhaps this year will finally be her year to shine.

Well Begun, But Not Quite Finished

Clue #4 of Bonnie Hunter’s mystery, Celtic Solstice was published last Friday.  All the strip sets have been joined and cut, but sadly, only 80 of the required 120 4-patches have been finished.  My excuse?  …..Christmas!  Hopefully, I’ll get the remaining 40 finished before next Friday.  Then again?  Maybe not.

4patches 002

One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day.  Don’t clean it up too quickly.  ~  Andy Rooney

Yay! It’s Ugly Sweater Season

theuglysweatershopLike a large part of the US this past week, it’s been cold enough to be considered sweater weather here in SW Oklahoma.  We had a little freezing rain, some sleet, and for us, a whole lot of snow.  Enough snow that the small town bank where I work didn’t open for business one day.  A snow day for adults (woot!).

The snow has finally melted in the last few days, turning our dirt road into a muddy bog – but even with the extra play day that saw me hunkered down in the house with our two dogs, I find that the closer it gets to Christmas the more hurdles there are trying to keep up with ongoing and time critical projects. No surprises there.

Stitchin’ Witch has sent out the instructions for Segment 8 of her mystery sampler.  The pattern is Kansas Troubles, a beautiful block, but I haven’t had the time to even contemplate fabrics or color placement.  Perhaps I can make some progress later on this week.

bonnie hunter celtic solstice part 3 pinwheel hstNote to self: use more pinwheels in future quilts.

Part 3 of Bonnie Hunter’s Celtic Solstice mystery project posted the morning of Friday the 13th, which as it happened, turned out to be a wild and wooly day at work.  In addition, it was just a couple of nights away from a full moon.  Perhaps it was those two events so near to each other that caused things to get so weird around the edges.  At any rate… after all of the bizarre and curious events of Friday, I decided that rotary cutting would be better left until the weekend.

For the small quilt, we were required to make 200 HSTs, using 100 to make twenty-five 3.5″ (8.89 cm) pinwheels, reserving the remainder to use somewhere else in the quilt.  Every time I make pinwheels, I’m reminded of how much I like pinwheels.

This time last year – while working on Bonnie’s Easy Street mystery – I fell behind, eventually finishing up weeks after most of the other participants.  I’m determined to stay on target with this year’s project, so I cut on Saturday and pieced on Sunday, putting a period to this segment.

We finally have enough components to start playing around with.  The yellow floral stands in for the unknown parts of the blocks – with so many possibilities, it’s a guessing game.  In all probability I’m way off base, but use a little imagination to fill in the blanks…

cstar

cshedgescsmaybeI’ve added a photo (and link) from Bonnie Hunter’s website.  The image below is a portion of the floor from Christ Church in Dublin, Ireland.  It’s easy to see that Bonnie was inspired by the palette.  More than that?  Only time will tell.

bonniehunterchristchurchdublinfloor

Where’s My Stuff?

I’ve semi-rearranged the sewing room to make room for the new quilting machine and in the process I’ve managed to misplace most everything – I can’t find my stuff.

I use the word rearranged very loosely.  It was more of a case of “shove this cart over into a corner, and this table over there.  Then stack a few things on top of whatever was most recently moved.  Okay, put a few more things on top of that tower of fabric, it shouldn’t topple over.  Oh yeah, and push this out of the way, too.”  The sewing room has reached critical mass, and I can’t find one thing in all of the chaos.

I could start cleaning this evening, but I think I’ll pull a Scarlett O’Hara – I’ll think about it tomorrow, meanwhile ignoring the mess while I sip on an adult beverage while I sit in front of the biggest time waster of all, my computer.

I’m still hanging with Bonnie Hunter and have spent the weekend hunkered down with Segment Two of the Celtic Solstice Mystery Quilt.  Thank goodness that I’m only making the small quilt which measures 75″ or 190.5 cm square.  The fact that I don’t own a king-sized bed had a lot to do with my decision, in this case size does matter.

If I had opted for the large quilt, I would have needed to cut a total of 1,464 fabric patches to make 244 chevron units.  As it is, I cut 600 patches to make a grand total of 100 chevron units.  Each chevron measures 3.5″ or 8.89 cm unfinished.  Ten more chevron units and I can color this segment complete.

butterscotch yellowI had a last minute change of heart over the yellows.  When shopping my stash for this project, I pulled every piece of caramel colored fabric that I owned.  But within the last few weeks, I’ve been gifted with a number of bags and boxes of fabric and with the occasional surprise of quilting related buried treasure.  (Note: if I could find my stuff, I’d show you).  While burrowing through one particular bag – or maybe it was a box – I found a scrap of yellow fabric that made me think of butterscotch the minute I saw it.  “Too bad,” I thought, “that there’s so little of this fabric.”  I smoothed it out, and set it aside while I delved deeper into the bag (or box).  Soon after, I shouted “Eureka!” while hauling out several yards of the same fabric.

Selecting greens is easy – all greens live together in nature.  Blues can be a bit tricky, and in my world, so can reds, and oranges, and yellow.  So I chucked all of the caramel colored yellows in favor of the lighter, and in my humble opinion, happier butterscotch yellows.

Bonnie Hunter Celtic Solstice

It Followed Me Home… Can I Keep It?

December already… crazy.

midarmI’ve managed to fill my time somehow since my last post.  Mostly I’ve been playing with the new machine that I acquired on the final day of the Houston Quilt Festival.  Oh… did I not mention that a mid-arm sort of found its way to my house?  I’ve burned through masses of leftover muslin and batting since its arrival.  Some might call it practice, but really, it’s nothing but play time as far as I’m concerned.

machine quilting practiceHere’s To Whittling Down That Stack Of UFOs

I’ve been getting check marks on a couple of unfinished tops as well, but I’ve begun with baby steps.  The take-along project from the Houston trip is complete – although it only got taken out of the project bag for show and tell while stuffing my face with pizza one night.  I never got around to actually working on it until after my return.  The little “Giddap” donkey quilt finished at 18.5″ or 469.90 mm square.

Giddap: The Democratic Donkey Quilt Reproduction of a vintage quilt patternAnd the Itty Bitty Pinwheels quilt gets a ta-da, too.  This one finished at 10.5″ or 266.70 mm square.  You remember this one, maybe?  The one that very nearly drove me insane while I was working on it?  The one with the 1″ blocks?  Yeah, that one.

itty bitty primitive pinwheelsReds: Gotta Love ‘Em

And segment seven of Stitching Witches Quilt Along is sewn up.  After much consideration (aka: sitting and staring for hours when I probably should have been doing something else), I came to the conclusion that the green check fabric demanded just a little too much attention.  A “Do-Over” was declared.  The red is not nearly as exciting as the green, but the final version of the Corn & Beans block is more in keeping with the overall look of the mystery quilt so far.

Stitching Witches Quilt Along Corn and BeansStitching Witches Quilt Along Corn and Beans

How About A Whole Bunch Of Scrappy Fun?

Last, but not least: the day after Thanksgiving also signaled the start of Bonnie Hunter’s 2013 Mystery Quilt Along.  Bonnie’s 2012 Mystery Quilt, Easy Street, was so much fun, and turned out so well that I decided to join the party again this year.  It’s not a block a week, or a block a month, more of a… make 188 of these units this week.  Don’t know how or where these particular units will fit into the overall picture, but I know from experience that eventually, they will.

Celtic Solstice Bonnie Hunter Mystery 2013 The entire project is a little intense, but in a very, very good way.  Last year, we finished in 6-7 weeks.  I adore working on a schedule, I wish I could push myself to piece like that a little more often.

Another reason I’ve looked forward to Bonnie’s next mystery quilt is her scrappiness.  The last thing that I need to do at this time of the year is go out and buy more yardage.  Bonnie makes color suggestions but puts a lot of emphasis on using scraps, the more the merrier – and boy howdy, scraps I’ve got!

It’s not too late to join…

Easy Street Bonnie Hunter 2012I’m sitting here writing about the Bonnie Hunter 2013 Mystery, when all of a sudden, it hit me – I never posted one single photo of the Easy Street top from last year.  Here’s a sneak peak before it goes into the machine.