Sunday, December 29, 2013

Planning for the New Year

 Folks on the Stashbuster Quilting Yahoo group have been sharing their selected 'Word of the Year' and what quilting goals they have for 2014. I have not picked a Word of the Year, but having spent some time straitening up and organizing the sewing room this past week I realized my scrap and crumb collections have continued to grow. So my focus for 2014 is to use up a good portion of my scraps. It is nearly impossible to measure how much scraps one has, so I went with the next option - go by weight. I weighed my scrap box and crumb bag and it comes out to about 23.5 pounds. Its not reasonable to try to get rid of all the scraps, but I figure reducing the weight by 1/3 should be doable. So that would be a reduction of about 8lbs in 2014. I set 6 month goals of 4 lbs just to break the goal down a bit.
Before starting this scrap challenge I did finish piecing a Disappearing 9-patch quilt top (top photo). Once that was done I spent some time going through some Pinterest images and some of my scrap quilting books and selected about 5 or 6 patterns and ideas that I think would work for my collection of scraps. The first one I am trying out is the Diamonds are Forever pattern from the String Quilt Revival book. Here are my 2 test blocks. So far so good. I will need to start cutting strips to keep going.

Monday, December 23, 2013

My Yard is Mother Nature's War Zone

I don't think I can handle any more drama. First being sick (and technically still sick) and then the big ice storm.
The storm has covered everything with between 3/4 to a full inch of ice. As you can see it is affecting the trees and plants. Any time spent outside you can hear trees cracking and breaking and giving way to all the weight of the ice.  

Clean up involves violently chiseling away at the ice with heavy metal garden shovels. After two days only part of the walkway to the house and about half of the driveway are mostly clear of ice. It all just breaks up in large ice chunks that you have to fling into the yard. The ice is so thick on the ground that you don't break through and the chucks just go sliding across the yard.

On Sunday afternoon we lost power for only about an hour. But as we were going to bed around 10:30pm the power went out again. This time for much longer. We promptly got the generator out and running by 11pm and it ran till 4am when power was restored.

Still not sure if I can get my car out. At the moment there are lots of icy branches hanging over the driveway, so you don't really want to be under them shoveling, just in case they give way and fall on you.

As you can see the maple in the side yard is experiencing all sorts of damage, and so far about 5 different large branches have come crashing down. I still go out and feed the birds and squirrels, but I don't go under the tree, I just fling the food and it slides into place at the base of the tree. There is going to be an incredible amount of debris to clean up this spring. I am already thinking of renting a chipper.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Couldn't put it off any longer

The ceiling fan and light in the sewing room / guest bedroom had been acting up for a month or so. I would pull the string several times before the light would turn on or off. And yesterday it got a lot worse, so since Damon and I were going into town to run several errands I added getting a new light/fan on the list. What I was not expecting was the Damon was ready to install it right after we got home so the picture here it our actual fixture already installed! As with anything electrical in the house (as the original wiring is ancient) we stand back, flip the breaker back on, and see if anything catches fire. This install actually went pretty well, the wires looked to be in good shape and the box was already installed and secure in the ceiling. This does not use conventional light bulbs, and I think at the moment it gives off a bit less light than the last fixture, but it says I can up the wattage, so I may go back in a week or so and get the brighter bulbs. 
The other thing we couldn't put off much longer, and one of the original errands, was to look into getting a new stove. The one that came with the house when we bought says it is an American Motors stove. Our best guess is that it is from the late 1940s or early 1950s. And it works great! - except that the big burner in the front, the one we use the most, seems to have lost its temperature regulation. We have made due for a couple of months using the other burners or just watching what we are cooking much more closely. Damon even looked into trying to find the part to fix it, but as you can imagine they don't make them anymore.
There are a lot more options now for stoves, so we looked and compared: coil vs. glass-top stoves, regular vs. convection and single vs. double ovens. After you make those bigger decisions you then need to look at brands, and for me and Damon also the look, feel and features. We did end up ordering a new stove, a GE glass-top with a double oven. We have decided this is our Christmas gift to each other this year. It should be delivered sometime before Christmas. Hopefully we will get the hang of the new stove in time for  baking Christmas cookies and making Christmas dinner!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

I have Ribbons!

During the quilt show a few weeks ago I did receive a guest judge ribbon from Carole Prevost-Meier owner of the Fibre Junction Quilt Shoppe. Full disclosure: I have known Carole for a number of years (but then again most quilters know each other around here). Thanks Carole!

At the Guild meeting last night they announced the Viewer's Choice ribbons. These are the quilts that get voted on by the folks visiting the show. I am proud to say the my New York Beauty quilt won a 2nd place Viewers Choice ribbon in the Medium Sized Quilt category. Woo-Hoo!

I haven't been working on my own quilting projects of late, but this is a nice pick-me-up and gets me thinking about what I might want to work on to put in the next show in 2015. If you want a look at the show I posted a couple of videos - one from the local PBS station (about 3 minutes) and one from the local cable access site (45 minutes) on the Guild's Show web page.  

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Taking a moment to chop off some hair.

 Its been crazy busy, worked 12 days straight and that included a conference presentation out of town, grading finals, orientation for a new hire and exams. In the midst of all this I had scheduled my annual late-fall/early-winter haircut. Just in time as we got over an inch of snow this weekend and the furnace is starting to dry the air in the house. Shorter hair is so much easier in the winter - with hat-head and static electricity plus it is much quicker to dry it in the morning. 

I have also been busy with working on Tim's mom's quilts. Did a lot of piecing a few weeks ago. So today I set up the sewing room for machine quilting. Started the first quilt today. It will likely take a while to get them all done. I am hoping to get most of them done before X-mas.

Also need to get all my X-mas shopping done in the next two weeks!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

An exciting weekend so far...

This weekend is the Champlain Valley Quilters' Guild of New York's quilt show. I worked set up on Friday and was at the field house from about 12noon to 6pm with lots of other guild members and a number of helpful husbands moving racks, setting up racks, and hanging quilts on racks.

Pictured are the two quilts I have in the show. While I got to see a number of the quilts in the show (especially the row I was assigned) I was really impressed with the quilts. We always have great shows, but I think this one really has some exceptional quilts. 

I am working as a 'white glove' person during the show on Sunday. So I will be going in early to see the show and check out the vendors. Then hang around in town after the show to wait for quilt pick up later on Sun.

While everything went pretty smoothly with the quilt show yesterday. Today (Saturday) got off to a very rough start. Damon got up early to go to work, let the dog out, and Ivan got skunked! So I was up at 5am (I am guessing, I didn't even get a chance to look at the clock) and spent the next hour or so with Damon washing the dog several times out in the driveway.  Thankfully it wasn't too cold (unusual for this time on Oct.). We did bring out some buckets of warm water from the house to rinse the dog (we are such good dog owners). So Ivan is on the back porch still damp and slightly less smelly. Damon went to work with the idea of coming back early with some more deodorizing products. And the clothes we wore to wash the dog are in the washing machine. The rugs that were on the back porch are in the garbage. I Anticipate being out washing dog for a portion of the afternoon as well today. And of course Frebrezing all around the house. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

A busy Aug. and Sept.

 Along with teaching online this summer and the start of the fall semester at the end of August I have been busy with home and quilting projects.

The quilt here is the baby quilt for Barbie and Aaron's baby, due at the end of Nov. The shower is next weekend, and you know how I am about meeting deadlines! So this was shipped out this past week. You can't really tell from this photo but all the fabrics on the top of the quilt has dots, spots or circles on them.

On the home front Damon and I decided we needed a shed to hold the summer stuff so we can get all three cars in the garage over the winter. So I bought the kit over the summer and on Friday we got the flooring on and built the sides. After he got home from work on Sat. we put on the roof. Today (final day if all goes well) the doors get attached.

The Columbus Day weekend it the Guild quilt show. Both quilts I  have in the show are done and the last sleeve was attached yesterday. So I am all set for the show.

Damon bough a new aquarium so we are moving things around to get it set up. I moved the bookcase across the room yesterday. Nothing like an excuse to take every single book off the shelves and dust! The process to move the fish over to the new aquarium will take a while - moving water, rocks, plants and then the fish.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

What I have been working on this week

I picked up the "Sparkle Plenty" pattern by Loft Creations in June at the City Quilter shop in NYC. I think this is a record for me - I don't usually make quilt tops very quickly after getting a pattern (I tend to mull my fabric choices quite a while). But I really liked the colors on the sample picture of the pattern so I went with very similar colors. The black was taken from my stash. About half of the colors are from a package of Kaffe 5 inch squares I bought at the Vermont Quilt Festival at the end of June and the rest came from my 5 inch square collection. 
It is more of a large wall hanging size, so I am contemplating either adding borders, just keep expanding the pattern, or a combination of the two. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Another Quilt Finished!

At the same time I picked up my summer quilt from the long-arm quilter's I also picked up this one. I finished putting on the binding last week.
All of the material for this quilt, except the outside border, was from my stash of fabrics. The main part of the quilt is primarily reproduction fabrics that I inherited from Cheryl Patch.  
The pattern for this quilt is called "Value Dance"  and the Quilt Tutorial can be found on the Stitched in Color blog by Rachel Hauser. 
When Gina and I started quilting together 10 years ago we would pick a pattern and each do our own version of the quilt. Over the years we moved away from doing that as we got busy with making gifts and other individual patterns we were interested in. This past January Gina suggested we work on the same pattern again. I had found this pattern in my quilt blog roaming and we both liked the the simplicity (it uses only 2 different quilt blocks) and how the look of the quilt could be very different based on color and placement.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

My New Summer Quilt

 I bought the batik fabrics for this quilt as a kit in Paducah,KY at the AQS show two years ago. I pieced most of it at a retreat last fall. Because of the bright colors I decided to make it a warm weather quilt. It is backed with flannel, but it does not have any batting. I got it back from the long-arm quilter yesterday and instead of doing a traditional binding I trimmed the back an inch longer than the quilt top and just double folded the back edges over to the front of the quilt and stitched it down using a machine blanket stitch.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Report from Toledo

 So far I have gone walking at one of the Metro-Parks every morning during this vacation. We came across these deer at Swan Creek a couple of days ago. Unfortunately the mosquitoes were watching and waiting for me - I am up to 3 bites so far.
Today was a new first - Tammy and I went to have our nails done. This was my first ever manicure. The picture is not great, but I picked a nice pink color. Now I am very conscience of nicking or damaging the polish. I also realized that I do not own any nail polish remover so in a week or so when I get home and need to take it off I have to go out and buy some.

Off to Ann Arbor on Wed and in Columbus for the Quilt Show on Thurs.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Ska Last Weekend

Still catching up after last weekend. Damon and I took off for NYC for the Apple Stomp concert. Had a blast! The bands were great. Can't remember the last time we went to a ska concert together.

It was actually 90+degrees in NYC and now here I am back in the Adirondacks where it is in the low 60s and rainy.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day 2013

I have spent the last month or so scanning the old family photos. Today I got to some of Grandpa Toth's Army photos. The first is a group portrait at Lourdes in France. I spent some time trying to find him in the photo and I think I spotted him in the upper left-hand corner of the group. This photo was taken in 1945.

In not so historical news, the rain has stopped, which is a relief as the flood plains were really filling up and the closest road over the Saranac River was closed yesterday due to flooding. The High Peaks in the Adirondacks are reported to have gotten 3 feet of snow in the last day, but we lucked out and didn't even have a frost - thank goodness, as I had already planted my tomato plants.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A busy May

Last weekend I took a workshop on Ribbon Embroidery. Pictured are the few flowers I made in class. We learned four different types of flowers and one type of leaf. Obviously there are lots of other possibilities but this was a good way to get introduced to the process and learn the basic knots and how to work with silk ribbons.   

Then this past week I did a road trip to Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada for the WILU conference. As you can see from the photo there was still some snow on the peaks in New England on Tuesday. The conference was great - funny, entertaining and full of great content, tips and ideas. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Busy, but still getting stuff done

 Haven't been blogging much as I worked the last two weekends and didn't take any time off during the week to compensate. I am proud to say that I did manage to maximize my time by combining two projects.
When I got grandma's baking board a few years ago a side piece was missing and as it had been sitting the basement it wasn't in great shape. When my latest quilt needed border fabric (nothing I currently had worked with it) I went up to Fibre Junction my friend Carole's quilt shop. Carole's husband does woodworking so when I went up to the quilt shop I dropped off the board for him to repair and clean up. I found the border fabric I wanted and a week later I went and picked up the board.
It always feels good to cross off another project off the list.

A note on the weather. Yes it is April, no it is not Spring. Heck, we haven't even started Mud Season yet - everything is still frozen and covered in snow/ice. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Spring Quilt Retreat Report

OK, the weather was anything but spring-like but the quilt retreat was great as usual. I am always so surprised by how much I get done at these retreats, so I did pack plenty of in-progress and possible new projects.

One of the last minute project I brought was the collection of orphan blocks which came together in this quilt top. Obviously these are not all of my orphan and test blocks. I tried to pull ones that looked fairly good together. I was  pleasantly surprised how easily they came together I only needed five or six extra scrap strips to fit them all evenly. I think it still needs some sort of border. 

By the last day of the retreat, which is only really a half-day, I usually have my bigger projects done and I am reluctant to start something completely new. So for my Sunday project this retreat I took out the scrap box and tried out the Trash to Treasure Pineapple block ruler and technique by Gyleen Fitzgerald. I started playing with different color layouts for this block. I like how they are coming out. A pineapple block quilt is on my to-do list, but it is a very versatile block and I am not sure what color layout I want to go with. I can totally see these test blocks (once I make a couple more) being the corner blocks for the border on the orphan block quilt.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Block Testing

Getting ready for the Spring quilting retreat. I dug out some fabric and a pattern that I bought in Paducah, KY last year called 'Tall Pines' by Irish Chain. The fabric I bought was expensive hand-dyed fabrics. The pattern uses their own custom templates for cutting the pieces. Given that I didn't want to make any mistakes trying this new process on the pricey fabric I jumped into the box-o-scraps and tried out the pattern and the templates. I noted a few minor adjustments, but it turned out pretty well. Here it is. This is a mini version, it is about 20 inches long. The version I will be making with the specialty fabric is the 4 foot version.

One of these days I am going to have to gather up my sample and test blocks and make a quilt. I didn't do it on purpose, but the background fabric used here, was also used in some of the Lemoyne Star blocks I made a while ago. So I know a few blocks will go together pretty well.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Blocks Done

I finally finished the Value Dance blocks. Here is a handful of them laid out. As this is the middle of the semester and I officially have my mid-semester cold getting much more done than the required minimum is not going to happen. Instead of quilting I figure I will switch to spending some time sitting next to the tissue box and perusing quilting magazines.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Starting on the Borders

The plan all along for the crumb block quilt was to have applique borders. I worked off and on for the past year tracing, fusing and cutting the various shapes. And then promptly tucked them all away into a project box. Because you need to lay everything out all at once I needed to make sure I had some uninterrupted time and space. So this weekend I divided out the applique pieces into four piles - one for each border piece. It makes sense to only work on one border at a time (less likely for pieces to fall off or get misplaced). After fusing the first border elements I started stitching them down. I will be using a variety of threads, but I am not going for matching each fabric color exactly.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

First new quilt project of 2013

When Gina and I started quilting together we would select a pattern and then both make it using our own fabric and setting choices. We haven't done this in a great while. There always seems to be so many other projects we are each working on. So to start this year we decided to go back and pick one pattern to work on. We selected the Value Dance Quilt from the Stitched in Color blog

I don't normally do this, but for the new quilt project I have pre-cut all the pieces to make the blocks. I will say it takes up a lot less space once everything is cut. The scraps (the bottom two piles of fabric in the picture) are also more manageable. I will not throw them into the scrap box until I am sure I won't need them for some other aspect (maybe a border) for this project. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

The circle of life for quilting project boxes

 Yup, that is me with an empty quilt project box. Fear not, it will only be empty for a few hours. The project that previously claimed this box as home (pictured below) was dropped off at the machine quilter's. She just got some new funky geometric quilting designs that I think will work wonderfully with this quilt. I still have to make the binding for this quilt but other than that my work on this one will be done.
Next for this box will be projects for the March quilting retreat. I am already starting to pull fabrics and patterns to take with me. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

How to spend a winter day.

As we are fast approaching the start of the semester and I will have to work next Sunday I decided to take today off. It was a good day to stay in as it was -2 degrees Fahrenheit this morning.

So the first thing to do on a day off in the winter is start a new book. Pictured is what I started reading this morning - I found it on a list of the best selling books from the UK version of Amazon. Only a couple of chapters in but so far I am really enjoying it.

Another thing to do on a winters day is make winter comfort food that also helps to warm up the house. So I made Chicken Supreme and mashed potatoes. The oven helped warm the house and the boiling of the potatoes helped humidify the house. (I multi-tasked by reading while watching the potatoes so they did not boil over).

On the quilting front, I picked up a few free quilting magazines that were being given away at this week's quilt guild meeting and spent some time today sitting in my sewing room looking through them. After being inspired by the magazines I started going through my patterns and fabrics and started planning my next quilt (likely a Bento Box with a bunch of vibrant multi-color fat quarters and maybe some black fabrics for contrast).

Posting on the blog is also a good use of time on a day off in winter!
OK, back to puttering around the house.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

First finished project of 2013.

Can't believe it - I actually completely finished a quilting project in one weekend! This pretty much never happens, mostly because I still sort of dread machine quilting. It also helped that I did not use a traditional binding finish. So here it is a completely finished tumbler block tablerunner, all quilted and completely done. Maybe the light therapy light and all the sunshine yesterday is working!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Use it up!

I decided to join the 'No Buy' challenge in the Stashbusters' Yahoo quilting group this year. What this means is no buying fabric 'just cause'. You are allowed to by fabric in order to finish projects - after first shopping your stash to make sure you don't have something that will work. I have participated before, but I am a bit rusty having gone to the AQS show in Paducah last year.

To help use the stash Damon bought me a fabric cutting machine for Christmas - the Go Baby Cutter and I have two cutting dies - the Tumbler block, and one that cuts 2 x 3.5 inch rectangles. You can see in the picture some of the Tumbler blocks I cut last night. You can get about 6 layers of fabric on the cutting dies so it goes pretty quickly. I made a dent in my red and green scraps. These scraps will likely become a table runner. One thing I have not heard from other owners of the Go Cutters is that it seem to build up static electricity (our house is a contributing factor because it is so dry). 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

This first picture is of Mom's Christmas gift quilt. Obviously I couldn't post the picture when I finished it as it would spoil the surprise. So here it is now. It is made of half-square triangles using Thangles. The original plan was to intersperse the neutral colors throughout the quilt, but I felt they stood out too much so I used them as a sort of inner border feature. Considering I had to change my design plans mid quilt project I am really happy how this came together.

The second photo is of the ongoing Feathered Star quilt I am working on. I completed the middle star a while ago (I think at least a year or more). I decided to frame it with the paper-pieced blocks you see here. I just finished making those blocks in December. I attempted to put them together and attach them to the star two days ago, but messed up the layout in the piecing process and ended up ripping all but the first row of blocks apart again to get it fixed and as originally planned.
 It still needs something more. I haven't decided if I should put this on-point or not. I am also thinking of adding another border - possibly diamond shapes. Given how cold and snowy and icy it is at the moment is seems appropriate to be working on this icy looking quilt at the moment.