Friday, September 22, 2017

Orange Magic

I only have a few scrappy blocks in orange for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge to show you this weekend.

Have I already shared these?

That might be my output for the RSC this month.

But let me tell you a little story about some other orange blocks...

I have a pile of batik blocks for my Bee, Myself & I quilt sitting on the ironing board. They happen to be orange and yellow and pink. On top of them are the scrappy Lego blocks I've been making of late, which I've been thinking I might as well turn into a quilt top at the next opportunity. (We won't even bring up how many quilts I could make out of the boxes of blocks I have in my Parts Department. Or the partially constructed quilts hanging in the closet.) When the temperatures dropped here and the rain moved in I was motivated to fulfill a couple of recent friendship block requests from local guild members. That was all well and good... until I made this one:

9" Cross and Crown or Turkey Tracks or Goose Tracks
I love this block. It was a wee bit fiddly but in the end totally worth it. I want to make more. The problem is, I can see it in so many different color ways that I don't even know where to begin. I kept myself awake way past my bedtime one night, envisioning all the different color palettes it would be fun to apply to that block. Then it dawned on me that it's the same size as the orange Ohio stars and stepping stones I made last year (or possibly probably the year before). I wondered whether I could make some of these and combine them with the Ohio stars and stepping stones in a quilt top. Eventually I fell asleep.

When I got out the orange stars and stones I counted them up and discovered there were already 25 made. That's enough for a 5 x 5 setting. I put them up on the wall pretty much as they came to hand and lo and behold, they looked good just the way they went up! So I sewed them together before I had a chance to talk myself out of it.

Then they cried out for a framing border.

The background of the piggy print is a little on the red side but I liked the pigs so on they went. This made the top 48" square. Another 12" would make it 60," a more generally useful size to my way of thinking. I considered trying to pull blocks from the Parts Dept. to create the border. I briefly considered making blocks (but only very briefly!). After a good rummage through the stash and eliminating half a dozen options, I found the leftovers of a quilt back I'd made. Miraculously, there was more than enough for the 6.5" wide border strips I wanted. I give you Piggies in the Garden:

All I have to do now is come up with a back for this top and hand it over to James for quilting. Every once in a while a quilt comes together like magic. :- )

Meanwhile, I've made up another Turkey Track block out of the remnants of the piggy print.

I'm still not sure what will come of this. I have a strong feeling that there will at least be rainbow turkey track blocks next year though! (You can find the pattern this block came from over here.)

Linking up with the RSC over at So Scrappy.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Stitch Along in September

I almost missed it! After several mostly good days I fell victim to a series of low level toxins. Fortunately I have now recovered and can share with you the needlework I've been doing.

I'll begin by stating that I have finished the secret project but have not yet bestowed it on the intended recipient. Hopefully you'll get to see it in my next SAL post on 8 October. In the meantime I have begun yet another needlepoint case. This one is the size of a cosmetic bag, about 4.5" x 7."

I've also done a bit more embroidery on the set of pillowcases I started in August.

In all their wrinkled glory!

The next step with these is to decide what colors to use for the flowers. Well, once I've completed the scroll work.

I used Nancy's hand dyed floss for the scroll work. It's a warm dark green from her Spooky Hollow II collection. The last batch of floss in the limited edition floss club I joined were mostly pale shades. I prefer the more vibrant tones. I'm very tempted to purchase the current collection of autumn colors (like I need more floss!). But there are probably skeins I could use already in my possession.

I've also made progress on the next caravan I'm embroidering for The Sketchbook Project. I don't know how many there will be in the end. This is the fourth in my series.

I'm doing it with an eye to making a steampunk trailer. So mostly metallic colors: bronze, pewter, etc. - but not metallic thread. I don't want the shine or sparkle that would give.

I'm not entirely happy with the widow in the door but I doubt I'll do anything about it. I thought I'd use colonial or French knots to indicate bolts around the porthole windows; they turned out to be too bulky. The simple running stitch did the job very well as it turned out. This has been set aside for a while; I need to get back to it so I don't lag too far behind.

There's quite a group of us in this stitch along now. All sorts of needlework is being done among us. I invite you to take the tour by clicking on the names below. We have some new members this time around and we welcome them. If you'd like to join us leave a comment on Avis's blog. :- )

Friday, September 15, 2017

Scrap Happy Day in September

No way we're already half way through the month! Guess that's what happens when you've got your head down in your scrap basket. ;- )

I took a break from the Truly Scrappy scrappy trip blocks this time around. Instead I made 12" (finished) Lego blocks out of my 2" scrap strips.

Each block is made up of eight rows of bits sewn end to end. I started with just three blocks. Before I knew it I had six. Then this happened:

Another set of six blocks! When I added them to the handful I had in the Parts Department I discovered I had 18 altogether. That meant I only needed two more to make 20 for a 4 x 5 setting. Yup, I went ahead and made them up too. I don't have a picture of them though, not yet. I haven't really had time to play with the blocks on the wall either. I'm thinking I might surround the 20 blocks with a 2" frame and then a 4" wide border. That would give me a 60" x 72" quilt, a nice size for a child or an adult's lap quilt. The first step is to get the blocks arranged in a pleasing manner. Give me a few days... Oh, and while you're waiting you can hop on over to Kate or Gun's blogs where they have links to others who are playing with their scraps for Scrap Happy Day. :- )

Monday, September 11, 2017

Wild Times

I've been pretty distracted for the past week, keeping up with news coming out of Texas and then Florida. My husband basically grew up in Houston and I lived in the Houston area for eleven years (most of them with him after we were married). We still have family and friends living where Harvey first dumped buckets of rain. Fortunately they are all well and accounted for but there are those who have a lot of work ahead of them. At this writing it remains to be seen how much damage Irma will end up causing.

Meanwhile, the wildfires here in the western states are still not under control.We had a couple of days of smoky air. I tried to take a picture the morning I got up to a hazy yellow-orange sky but it didn't look like anything so I won't bother to share it.  The fires aren't all that close to us, it was just the direction of air flow on those days. Since then the weather has changed again and we're enjoying temperatures that are closer to normal for us at this time of the year. We've also had the first real rain in something like two and a half months. You may have faintly heard the joy and rejoicing that took place in this corner of the nation. ;- )

In the studio I have been working on a variety of projects. I finally finished the binding on this quilt for Covered in Love:

60" x 75"
This picture was taken after it had been through the washer and dryer. I love the texture; it's so lovely and cuddly!

There's a block drive for more Covered in Love quilts so I made up a pair of them to send along with the quilt.

I also had some Bear Paw units set up, ready to assemble, for the August Nights quilt. They made for great mindless sewing when I needed it.

I'm a little concerned that they may not have enough contrast to them.

I'll deal with that the next time I have a burst of creative energy. My hope is that once the necessary sashing is in place the paws will show up a little better. On the other hand it may not make a difference at all. We shall see.

I also made up some blocks I'll show on our next Scrap Happy Day at the end of this week (the 15th). We have another Stitch Along check in on the 17th too.

With the drop in outdoor temperatures and the kids heading back to school it felt like time to swap out the quilts on my bed. Off came the lighter, brighter, white-based quilts and in their place I put my Footsquare Freestyle 2 and Macabre Medallion on the bed, one on top of the other.

I don't need two quilts to sleep under yet but I do enjoy being able to see both quilts regularly. I'm one of those freaks who actually enjoys making the bed. Or maybe I should say, I enjoy having the bed made up!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

All Over the Map

First, before the weekend gets away from me altogether, let me show you the last of the light neutral blocks I've made out of my scrap patches in conjunction with the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. There have been two sets of blocks I don't think I've shared yet. These were made over a week ago:

And these I whipped up on the last day of the month:

I don't know if I've said it before but I was surprised at how soothing I find these blocks to be visually. While I was assembling them the voices in my head were going on about the lack of contrast and how awful they were going to look. Take that, Miss Pessimist! Next we get to play in our orange scraps. I've already put away the neutrals and brought out the oranges. What a pitiful pile it is! I believe I'm going to have to create some new orange scraps... what a pity. ;- )

I'm linking up with the other RSC bloggers late though it may be.

On another note, Claire over at Knitnqwilt reblogged a post by Melanie McNeil that is very timely and wise regarding the donation of quilts and other goods to victims of major disasters. Let me do my part to spread the word by suggesting you hop on over to Catbird Quilt Studio to read it for yourself.

For those friends who have left comments on recent posts of mine let me just say that I've been taking full advantage of slightly cooler weather and healthier hours to accomplish things other than responding to comments or reading blogs. Apparently we're looking at a week's worth of hot weather with possibly smoke tainted air so you may not hear from me in the immediate future. I don't believe I've ever been so anxious for cool, gloomy days to return!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Bee, Myself and I in August

The Bee, Myself and I effort was an idea Granny Maud's Girl came up with to help her accomplish the projects she wanted to do for herself but kept putting off. I haven't done anything with my selfish sewing project for the last couple of months. To be honest, the embroideries I've been doing have felt pretty self-serving. But it's also been too warm to sew comfortably this summer. We've been blessed with a couple of cooler days this week so I dug out my batiks and made up a few more blocks in my more favorite colors:

Then I had to get out the other blocks I've made to see where I am with this project.

There are only three spots left to fill out the 4 x 5 setting I'd planned. However, there's some blending that needs to be done. I like the transition from yellow to orange in the upper row. I need to eliminate that distinct line between yellow and orange on the right side, three blocks down. And then there are the pink blocks. I love pink and orange together, along with yellow, but if I can't blend them in better this may end up being strictly a yellow and orange quilt.

I'm not entirely happy with the yellow block in the second row down, second block from the right. It looks a bit gold in the photo above. That's because about half the strips in that block feature red and yellow prints. That one may have to be removed from the mix. Taking it out will give me a bit more leeway for the blending I'd like to attempt.

Getting these blocks out again has inspired some new ideas for color manipulation that could be fun to try some day. Or maybe I'll change my plans for these blocks! We're due for some more hot weather (relatively speaking) in the days ahead so it may be the end of September before I do anything more. ;- )

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Stitching Along Some More in August

It doesn't feel like I've done all that much since our first check in with the Stitch Along but maybe I've accomplished more than I realize. The secret project is nearly complete. Unfortunately, I've been using one of Nancy's hand dyed flosses and don't have quite enough left to finish the project. The DMC equivalent isn't close enough to suit me, at least not by the color number Nancy gave. There might be another shade in the DMC line that would work better; I haven't had a chance to look. I'm hoping Nancy has another skein left from that dye batch. Otherwise I'm not sure what I'll do!

The mid-century modern trailer for The Sketchbook Project is finished:

There are some anomalies that prove this was handmade (as if there could be any doubt). I didn't realize the door wasn't quite straight until it was too late to fix it. Nevertheless, I'm content with the end product. I'm not sure the backstitched lines really read as louvers in the windows but I'm happy with the "screening" I put in the little window in the upper bunk area. I added the whitewall to the tire at the very end. 

I also left a bit of myself on the back of my work:

That sort of thing is a good reason to line your embroidery when you can. While the lining is blood stained, it doesn't show on the front at all. Whew!

This isn't a great picture, but here are the three caravans I've completed so far:

And here's the next one:

I suspect I'm going to have to move the position of one or two of the three windows. I don't think there's room for the embroidery I have planned the way they sit now. 

There are people doing all sorts of needlework in this stitch along group. To see what everyone is up to click on their name below. If you'd like the motivation that comes from a group like this contact Avis through her blog. But be warned: you may find yourself picking up your needles more often and leaving other activities untouched!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Post-Eclipse Post

I have no pictures to share with you of our experience with the recent solar eclipse. We did not make the effort to pick up the appropriate viewing glasses. Frankly, I wasn't all that interested in the beginning. We generally have so much cloud cover around here that I didn't think we'd get to see anything in the end. If you don't get your hopes up you can't be disappointed, right? But our skies were as clear as they could be on the day. Hubby set up the tripod for his cameras then discovered he had no film for the 4x5 view camera and a low battery in the digital camera. He has a welding helmet and shield though so he doubled them up and watched the eclipse. I went outside to experience the long shadows of afternoon created by the moon crossing in front of the sun in the morning hours and the subsequent drop in temperature. I had a look at the display on the digital camera when the sun was a skinny crescent, then I watched the rest of the eclipse on television. Relatives in Idaho had a magnificent viewing experience, and they didn't even have to leave home!

I couldn't keep myself from beginning to embroider one of the new pillowcases I showed in my last post.

Some folks suffer from Quilter's Attention Deficit Disorder, I seem to suffer from a variant of that disorder. My sewing station is a complete mess at the moment. Excavating from the top down we have embroidery threads and skeins, packets of needles, and scissors down at the bottom somewhere. There are three different embroidery projects and a needlepoint case in progress on the table. My scrap patches have been shoved off to one side along with the usual assortment of notebooks and writing tools. I really will have to have a clean-up session soon!

In spite of the mess I was able to frame up four star blocks from my Parts Department for the current block drive for Covered in Love.

Kat said this morning that she thinks she may be able to make six quilts out of the blocks she's already received. I was glad to be able to contribute a few blocks since I have yet to get the binding on the quilt I have earmarked for Covered in Love.

We have a Stitch Along check-in on Sunday (27 Aug.) so I'll hold off showing you any more of what I've stitched until then. Well, except maybe for this:  ;- )

Friday, August 18, 2017

Moving Right Along

I haven't quite decided whether I'm finished with the witch's caravan.

I provided a boulder to support the front end of her trailer and put colonial knot gravel underneath. The debate is whether to extend a few of those brambles up a little higher on the side of the trailer. And then there's the matter of her familiar. A cat? A raven? Do I really have room to include this element?

While I'm considering these options I've chosen to move forward on another caravan. I think this one will be pretty simple and quick to execute.

I'll probably just stick to the basic design lines and not try to embellish it further. Well, not much anyway. ;- )

I had to go out to find just the right shade of pink for this trailer though. Not only did that result in yet another toxic headache (blech) but it yielded up a pair of pillowcases to stitch when my brain isn't functioning well. Like now, after the trip to the store.

I got this on super clearance. I like the design, just not the colors they chose or the suggested method for stitching the flowers. So when I'm feeling a bit better I can settle on a color palette for these and then pick them up the next time I want to stitch without having to think too hard. I wish I could pick out colors willy-nilly and just start stitching! I will probably try to use the hand dyed floss I've been acquiring from Nancy's Victorian Motto Sampler Shoppe. Although there was a lovely soft melon color in the DMC display at the store, a color I don't believe I have in my stash already. Unfortunately, to get some would entail another trip to the store and the consequences thereof. Better to use what's already on hand!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Scrap Happy in August

I've sort of been stash busting this year by cutting 3" strips to make truly scrappy Scrappy Trip blocks for Scrap Happy Day hosted by Kate in Australia and Gun in Sweden. This month I made four blocks.

Twenty of these 15" blocks make a nice comfort quilt. With a little stretching I can get a twin size quilt top. I actually have more blocks than I need at this point but I've been having trouble coming up with a setting I'm happy with. I thought the more blocks I had to choose from the easier it would be.

Not so much.

I can't seem to live with complete randomness right now. I have to have some element of organization. To that end I decided to try creating rows that feature a central diagonal line from one color family.

With 2.5" sashes between five rows and a narrow border I'll have a twin size quilt top. And I might be able to use up more of my stash!

Some of the rows work better than others. I may yet try ramming them together and putting on a wider border. (There's always a need for larger quilts for the teens in foster care. Otherwise I would just make a couple of smaller quilts.) I'm not in the best place to make these design decisions at this point. The weather has cooled down a bit and I believe the air is cleaner but I'm still gun-shy about having the windows open and I have too big a headache to think clearly.

I invite you to hop over to Kate's blog for the complete list of those participating in these monthly efforts to put our scraps to good use. There's bound to be something inspiring. :- )

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Heckedy Peg on Vacation

We had more haze than smoke around here this past week. It was still smoky haze though. That meant poor air quality, which meant I didn't get a lot done during the week. At least not until yesterday. But let's start at the beginning...

I think I was influenced by the orange tint to the haze when I picked the next caravan to embroider. I had a pretty good idea of who I wanted to make it for though.

I began with the drawing of the vintage Shasta trailer. I had to lay low for a couple of days after I'd outlined it and put in the first details. That also gave me time to decide to ignore the line of the lightning bolt.

I've used feather stitches for the brambles, split stitch for the bristles of the broom, and stem stitch for the handle of the broomstick and the planking of the door. Most of the wheel is done in buttonhole stitches.

I made the handle on the door with two french knots and then short loop of wrapped floss. 

I free-styled the cobweb. Haven't decided yet whether to try to put in a spider. That window is only an inch wide and .75" high.

I need to add the trailer hitch and some shadowing under the caravan. Not sure there will be much more than that to do! Fortunately I've got ideas forming for another of the caravans. :- )

The wind is picking up even as I write this. That means the air should begin to clear out. The temperatures are predicted to be more normal in the coming week too. We might even get some rain tomorrow. That will help a lot. Here's to better days ahead!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

SAL - First August Check-in

Miraculously, we seem to be the beneficiaries of our more normal on-shore air currents now. The temperature outside has dropped and the humidity has gone up. That makes life much more comfortable around here!

Most of the needlework I've done since our last stitch along check-in has been on a project that will be a gift. I don't want to spoil the surprise so it won't appear here until it's been given. You're going to have to be content with the little bit I've done elsewhere. ;- )

Likely you remember the little fox needlepoint case I finished up recently. I've started another of the same design but in different colors. Well, different color placement anyway.

The last one had a purple background, this one will have a purple fox. I haven't decided what color I'll use for the background yet. It won't be gray!

I've wanted to get another caravan embroidery started but got sort of hung up on that front. Some of the images in the coloring book I ordered had to be reduced in size to fit the format of The Sketchbook Project's sketchbook. I won't be using all of them by any means but I wanted to be able to pick and choose amongst my more favorite shapes.

The August shipment of Nancy's limited edition floss club was delivered the other day.

That helped motivate me to trace off a couple of the trailers.

I only traced off the most significant design lines so I can customize the trailers to my heart's content. The pencil showed up well enough on this yellow background but is harder to see on the orange.

In fact, I may have to darken the lines for my own benefit before I begin stitching!

There's quite a group of us in this SAL now.  We check in every three weeks to keep us on task with our various needlework endeavors. If you'd like to join us just drop Avis an email or leave a comment on her blog. We're welcoming two new members this month, Heidi and Connie!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Heat and Smoke

The cool, damp Pacific Northwest has been suffering from an unusual heat wave this week. We are not accustomed, in this area, to temperatures over 80 (F). We may reach 80 at the peak of summer - which we are in - but anything above that is record breaking. We broke records this week. We've also been the recipients of the smoke from wildfires burning to the north of us in British Columbia, Canada. Needless to say, I've had a tough week. Even the dog didn't want to go outside yesterday. I don't think it was the heat that bothered her, it was the smoke in the air. We don't have cloud cover right now, we have haze. Thank goodness for the portable air conditioning unit my husband purchased last year (or was it the year before?). We've needed it to clean the air as much as for cooling. It looks like we might be in for another full week of this kind of weather too. Yikes. No rain in sight. I've been out to water my flowers (with my mask on of course) but we may have to invest in some soaker hose to keep the hedges on two sides of the house from drying out.

David Austin rose "Charlotte"
When it gets this warm I'm reluctant to use the iron, and I use the iron frequently when I piece quilt blocks. Consequently I have a pile of piecing on the ironing board, waiting to be pressed.

The RSC color for August was announced as light neutrals. I quickly pieced up three 4.5" postage stamp units and a 16 patch block (8" finished). On the board we also have a couple of 6" scrappy Barn Door blocks and a pile of HST's for bear paw units. Earlier in the week I pulled out this work in progress...

... and I'm thinking I'll use the bear paws in a border treatment. I may repeat the flying geese too, we'll see. I started this project last year in August and haven't been inspired to work on it since I put it away last fall. I've been referring to this as Camping Princess in my mind but now I'm thinking I should call it August Nights! 

I plan to link up with the other RSC bloggers Saturday morning. My apologies to those of you who have come to visit, been so kind to leave a comment, and have not heard back from me. Blame it on my weakened endocrine system.