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Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Project, New Year

This morning I read a few blogs.  Some reminisced about 2011, some inventoried highlights and accomplishments, one writer was eager for 2011 to just be OVER!  
Like blocks on a design wall, or pieced rows awaiting further attention - we have an idea of what's ahead.
There will be twists and turns along the way. Today, in fact, I marvelled at how many times one can do something wrong, correct it, and find that it is wrong again - but in a surprisingly new and different way! 

But we perservere. 

I wish you health and harmony in 2012.  May the new year present us with enough joys and accomplishments to feed our spirits, and enough challenges to keep us humble and grounded. 

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Double Irish Chain Blocks

I think I'm on my way - what you see here is an entire evening's work.  The first few blocks are always the hardest.  I did some ripping because one dark green was incongruent with the rest, and distracted from the light/green contrast. 
Here's the back.  I think I have all the seams going the right direction.  I found I need to use one needle setting for the more complex blocks, and a different setting for the simpler alternate blocks - which I'll do last. 
Ironically, I made up one "simple" block, only to realize I should have used light green.  Oh well, that's what I get for calling it simple.  :)

I've resolved my desire to work with 1" squares, in green, for St. Pat's and keeping the project to a manageable size.  I've always wanted to do an Irish Chain.  This layout is similar to a design I found at  However, I won't be using a machine embroidered pattern in the white space.  Instead, probably go with applique shamrocks.   I'll probably modify the border to have nine patches in the four corners.  But I was too lazy to figure out how to do that on EQ6.  I think I'd rather spend that time at the fabric store!  :)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

One Inch Squares & St. Patrick's Day

I've been tossing fabric scraps in a cookie container, planning to do something with them when the containter got full.  Since I just finished a big project, I didn't feel like launching right into another one - and the container WAS full.  The opportunity to just dabble a bit seemed appealling.
I sorted the scraps by color, with the intention of making a whole lot of 3" nine patches.  I had some odd amounts of thread to use up so I started with pinks and reds.  I had quite a few scraps from a quilt I made using 1930's reproductions.  I may make those nine patches and set them aside with the other 1930's fabric for future inspiration.
I finally took the time to determine what needle position will give me perfect 1" squares.  I'm also trying to decide if I want to stick with nine patches, or go to 4 x 4s with the intention of making an eventual postage stamp quilt - some many years down the road....when my cookie container has been filled and emptied many times over.

The great thing about an open ended project is your mind can go in any direction.  I was looking forward to working with the greens - when I remembered that I wanted to make a St. Patrick's Day wall hanging or table topper this year.  As I'm dabbling with these scraps, I'm also keeping my eye open for a great St. Pattie's Day pattern.  Feel free to share if you have a good one!  :)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun...., this isn't an ad for Doublemint gum, but one could chew some while sewing with a double needle

Made a few last minute Christmas gifts - fleece scarves.  After sewing two 10" strips of fleece together lengthwise, I turned them right side out and did some top stitching.  Had always wanted to try using the double needle that came with my machine, and really liked the results.
Corners were a little tricky since you can't pivot in needle-down mode, as you would with a single needle.  So I raised the needles, rotated the scarf, and then hand cranked the needles down toward the fabric, making sure they lined up with the previous stitching before piercing the fabric.  Seemed to do the trick.
If making the scarf for an adult, I use 5/8 yard.  You could probably get away with 1/2 yard if making the scarf for a child.  At Hancock Fabrics, even remnants that were $12.99/yd originally, sell for 3 bucks.  I bought some extra fleece to make scarves for next fall's craft fair.  :)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Quodlibet Finish

Here is the finished Quodlibet quilt.  It went directly from the dryer to a very large gift bag and was whisked away for a Dec. 24th delivery.  In my haste to complete it on time, I neglected to take another picture AFTER washing out the chalk lines, and forget to take one showing the red plaid fleece backing.  I wish I could have been there when RJ opened it - but that would have required being in two places at once. :)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas One & All

Remembering the reason for the season.  Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Quodlibet is Fully Quilted

Sewed all evening.  Here's Round One of the outer border. 
Still lovin' my chalk pen. It has served me well for this entire project.
Here's the second and FINAL round of stitching.  Hooray! 
I turned a LOT of corners, but I'm happy with the result. 

I'm channeling the industrious spirit of Santa's elves. 
Tomorrow I hope to trim, bind and launder.  :)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Cookies & Quilts

Last weekend's quilting ambitions got derailed by cookie production.  (For recipe see: 

But I'm starting this weekend out right - got 7 out of 12 rows quilted in one evening.  Completing this quilt in time for Santa to deliver it is looking more realistic now.  Hooray!
After much thought and a few false starts, I'm doing straight line quilting.  With a fleece back, this quilt just is too big and too heavy for anything more involved. 

Will continue to practice my FMQ skills on smaller quilts or projects that can be quilted in sections.  Gosh....that sounds a little like a New Year's resolution - doesn't it?   :)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Quilting Quodlibet...Oh Baby!

As I've been wrassling this large, heavy quilt into submission, it occured to me that SOME people think quilting is a passive activity because you are sitting down. 

This quilt has bested me more than once, so I scooped it up and weighed it.  Seven pounds - just like a full term baby!  It took just as long to make.  This has been an upper body workout, so the word "labor" or the biblical "travail" seem fitting - complete with the gnashing of teeth when I had to rip!  At least I don't have to get up at night to change it and feed it.

I've finished the horizontal ditch stitching so I can now begin some diagonal lines, squiggles, stipples and FMQ leaves.  This quilt offers many options!  It will continue to get easier and more fun - as I remove more (accursed) safety pins.  I hope to pick up speed soon, because this is to be a Christmas gift...and yes, that's THIS Christmas!  :)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Santa Came Early...

...and brought me a new toy!

It's a Hamilton Beach Deluxe Set and Forget Slow Cooker.  If you need ideas for your holiday Wish List - I highly recommend it.  Here it's cooking a beef roast, and monitoring the internal temperature.  When the roast reaches the predetermined right temperature, the slow cooker changes to Keep Warm.  You can also use it in the traditional way, turning it to High, Low or Keep Warm when you see fit.  Or you can program it to perform at a chosen setting (or settings) for a number of hours and then turn itself down.
My old crock pot had a non-stick finish that was  finished!  So I really like my new stoneware crock.  I often put on a roast in the morning before work - but always had call my son to tell him to turn it down.  And sometimes I'd forget to the programable feature is perfect.  I also use my slow cooker for potlucks, and that's been a hassle.  This one has a gasket on the lid, and the lid can be locked down for transport.  And the handles on this unit are full sized so you can get a firm grip on it.  Much safer!  Other little niceties are the lid rest, cord wrap and spoon that attaches to the lid handle.
FYI - I'm not being paid to promote this product - just think its the best thing since sliced bread.  :) 

For more info, see: 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Monona Grove Throw

Here's this week's accomplishment.  One night I cut the fleece.  One night I blew up the logo, reversed it and cut it out of freezer paper.  Another night I bought stabilizer.  Last night I pressed the freezer paper onto the solid blue fabric.  Tonight I did the applique, monogrammed the future owner's name in the corner and cut and tied the fringe.  Didn't  expect to finish the whole thing, but was pleasantly surprised. 

I learned a couple things:

1.  For a large blanket, cut fringe to 5" rather than the 3-4" that is usually recommended.  I cut them to 4" and would have liked them to be a little longer.

2.  Press on stabilizer is expensive and can become very difficult to remove.  It's easy to lift off and even reposition at first - but the longer it remains in contact with the fabric, the harder it is to get off.  I went slow and took my time, as I am new to machine applique.  That was my mistake - all the while the stabilizer was slowly cementing itself to the fleece.  It wasn't pretty.  I'll definitely use freezer paper as a stabilizer next time I get the urge to do applique.  :)