A View of My Quilt Life

Monday, December 30, 2013

Celtic Solstice Progress - Split Triangles!

Time for Link Up Monday  to see everyone's progress on Bonnie Hunter's Celtic Solstice Mystery Quilt.  The mystery has been a blast so far! And I love being able to see other quilters work from around the world as we travel this quilting journey together.  Take some time, grab a cuppa and check out the links - they are amazing.

And Just For Fun - So Far For Small Size Quilt 
Total Piece Count = 2344
Total Seam Count = 1811
Total Unit Count = 533
Thankfully, Friday & Saturday both turned out to be quiet at home days, so between chores, I sewed up a storm! 

On Friday, I finished the 60 four patches units in teal & orange that was left over from last week's clue.  It felt good to get them done and put away.

 I couldn't wait to see how the split triangle units were going to look in my colors, so I pressed on and made 5 of them. Love the way the colors are playing with each other! Seeing these 5 made me excited to get back to the sewing area as soon as I could on Saturday.

On Saturday, it was time to get the sewing station set up to handle bias edges.  The goal is minimal handling of the triangle pieces so you don't end up with a wonky mess, all stretched out of shape.  I cut on the mat right to the left of the machine, doing small groups at a time.  Look at all that fabulous sunlight streaming in!

The day was sunny & so warm (high of 40!) that I almost left the sliding door cracked open. Unfortunately, winter temps are  back down to the lows teens during the day, near zero at night for the next few days. Won't even talk about wind chills.  The space heater will be working overtime if I plan on any sewing  today & tomorrow. There's always hand quilting to do on the Irish Chain upstairs, with a nice hot cuppa & the dogs on the couch with me.

When I am quilting, I like to pop in a DVD of something I know so well, I only have to listen not watch.  More sewing gets done that way.  This week's choice was The West Wing - Season 4 & 5. 

Hobbes & the cats wandered in and out checking things out but Drake never left his blanket under my table. He is doing good recovery-wise. 

Here they are - 100 Split Triangle Units!

Doing some quilt math here:

The small size quilt finishes at 75" x 75", since all the units are 3" square finished size, and assuming a 25 unit by 25 unit layout, that means we need 625 units total. We have 533 units made or accounted for, so we have 92 units left to make. I am hoping to see the blue & teal used in the remaining units. I so want to pull the units out of the drawer & do some test layouts but I WILL resist and be surprised!

Wonder how much longer I can last before I give in to temptation?? As a distraction, I'll go check out what everyone else is doing...

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Studio Tour Sunday

I have some time today to work on a new piece or start the quilting on the first French Braid quilt but before I dive into that - let's take a studio tour.
My recent de-cluttering has freed up some display space on the narrow wall ledge that runs the length of the room behind my sewing chair.  The ledge really comes in handy for storing things.  Since I no longer have much display space in the dining room or kitchen, I had a brilliant idea to move the remaining salt glaze pieces downstairs & put them to use.   

The crock next to my Ott light holds my SideWinder bobbin winder and cord.

 Scissors have found a happy, handy home right behind my chair.
The little dresser valet (castoff from DH) wrangles my smaller scissors and rotary cutter
 The German beer stein contains all my pens, pencils & such.

 The large canister next to the blue mason jar will provide lots of storage for something - just not sure what yet.
The new layout of the cutting table and storage bins seem to be working well.  I am being conscious of putting things away, clearing off the flat surfaces when I am done working and covering my machine.  Even my straight pins have a new hiding place to keep them away from paws that were batting the magnetic holder to the floor & scattering them everywhere.

Not all the cleaning is on the room scale.  In the middle of working on my Split Triangle units, I had some weirdness start with the machine. One wonky seam and I had her opened up quicker than you could say 'Empty Bobbin'.
Lint Ick!
The batiks have been linting a bit so some Q-tips were employed to un-fuzz the guts.  No more issues after that. 

Time to go find something to sew.  Have you cleaned your machine lately?


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Things Are Looking Up and a Brief Look Back

Looking Up:
Drake slept like a rock Thursday evening & all night and the same last night.  I am back to sleeping on the couch for the next several days so he can do the same & be comfy.  Good rest is important for good healing.
I snapped this picture of Hobbes comforting Drake shortly after we got home on Thursday.  This is a rare occurrence and Oh, so sweet!!

The weirdest thing was Zena's reaction to Drake after surgery. She was having absolutely nothing to do with him - he smelled all wrong.  The other two cats just sniffed and sniffed him & that was that.  She kept trying to come near him but was very upset and even a little scared of him.  She eventually got over it.
Mom is doing okay - still in hospital and waiting. 
The Element is back home & running like a dream. It should - it has a new water pump, a new serpentine belt, a new battery (didn't realize that the old one was almost 6 years old but it was) and an oil change (only 1000 mile overdue this time).  My mechanics are incredible so I thanked them with homemade cookies.
The Christmas Roast Duck dinner was made last night and I got rave reviews from the DH.  We had roast duck with orange sauce on the side, garlic parmesan potatoes, steamed haricot verts, and roasted garlic cheddar biscuits. Definitely worth the wait.
Yes - I butterflied the duck
Celtic Solstice Sewing - I got some sewing done yesterday!  I finished all 60 of the Four Patches I needed to do. And I made 5 of the 100 Split Triangle blocks.  I like the color combo in this block.

All in all, Friday was very positive, mostly quiet and for that I am extremely grateful!!
Looking Back:
Christmas Day was a blur this year.  But I got fabulous gifts and want to share them with you!
Santa brought me a clock!!   I didn't have one in my sewing area, which is just crazy making.  I was relying on the digital window on the cordless phone handset. Not ideal.
DH hung it for me yesterday so I didn't have to drag out the ladder, right over the cutting table, where I can clearly see it from anywhere in the room.  Not super fancy but nice size & style numbers, battery operated and it has temp & humidity too.
The animals decided they needed to help me wrangle my fabric out of the garage & into the house and keep it safe from their paws.  They pooled their treat money and got me a brand new storage unit!   It's taller than the one I found at the thrift shop so it doesn't fit under the cutting table. But that's okay, as it fits right against the wall to my left as I sit at the machine. 
Here are my Celtic Solstice blocks tucked in the top drawer, all safe and sound!! Love it!  No worries, the other drawers will be filled in a blink of the eye.
So, what did Santa bring you this Christmas?

Friday, December 27, 2013

Quiet Day Please and Celtic Solstice Clue # 5 Released

My fingers are crossed for a Quiet Friday - Oh Please, Oh Please, Oh Please!!!
Clue # 5 for Bonnie Hunter's Celtic Solstice Mystery Quilt has released this morning and we are making split triangle or 'Bird in the Air' blocks! 

Remember the 100 leftover HSTs (mine are pink and orange)? They are getting incorporated into the blocks, paired with cream and blue.  YAY - more blue!!  I still have 60 Four Patches to make so I'm going to need to wind some serious bobbins.

Not sure if I'll get my quiet Friday or not yet - waiting to hear from my brother on Mom's status.  They may be doing a procedure today or not.  If I need to go to hospital, I'll be taking my Irish Chain to do some hand quilting on.  Since I don't have my car back, I'll have the DH's car and DH will be on Drake Watch - meds, monitor activity level, no licking, etc.  - as he is now elevated to Sick Dog.  Interestingly, Hobbes is NOT liking all the attention Drake is getting since yesterday afternoon. He's the special one. Just what I need - sibling rivalry.  It's not like we are ignoring him, for Pete's sake.

I'm off to start laundry, have another cup of tea, go hold a paw, wait for the phone to ring - and hope it's going to be a Quiet Friday.

Anyone else hoping for one too?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Best Laid Plans....

Remember the other day when I said we'd be kicked back relaxing, watching movies, having a quiet Christmas Eve & Christmas Day, nibbling on munchies - just hanging out enjoying each others company??  Well, life kind of took it's own path.
I spent part of Christmas Eve day shopping - three separate trips out (once because the fancy heavy metal stocking hangers were nowhere to be found - REALLY??!!).   Command strip hooks to the rescue.

The cookies and scones didn't get baked until after dinner and then we all collapsed, bedtime was soon afterward.  On Christmas morning, halfway thru breakfast, the phone rang.  I knew it wasn't good before I answered it. And I was right. 
It was Dad calling to tell us that Mom is in the hospital. They know kind of what's wrong but need tests to pinpoint the plan of action.  I spent part of Christmas Day, visiting her at the hospital, talking to her doctor & nurses, and conferring with my siblings.  I then spent some time in my Element, on the side of the highway, waiting for the tow truck.  When I got home, I had a glass of wine, some chocolate and some hand stitching on the Irish Chain to unwind - in that order.

Today, I am sitting in my friend's basement waiting for my cell phone to ring.  It could any of the following:
1. Mom (or Dad or Siblings) calling to let me know what's going on at the hospital;
2. Mechanic calling to let me know if it was indeed the serpentine belt that broke and when the Element will be fixed; or
3. The vet calling me to let me know Drake is out of surgery.
Oh, yeah - went to the vet on Monday to have Sick Dog's (Hobbes) blood work redone 10 days after the last draw & those horrendous results, took Drake with & discovered he had to have surgery - the sooner, the better.  Since they couldn't just drop him on the operating table that minute, we have been anxious awaiting today, when Dr. Chris would tackle the issue.
BTW - Hobbes' blood work came back with all the numbers NORMAL - YAY!!!
And the Christmas Duck is still in the fridge, waiting to be roasted....
Happy Boxing Day!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


Baby, it's cold outside...
With temps and wind chills below zero, there will be very little outside activity today.  I think we have everything we need for the final baking and all the holiday meals.  
The tree finally has ornaments but the stockings still need to be found & hung.  The kitchen is calling me to fire up the mixer and get busy. There are Grammy's Cowboy Cookies & blueberry scones to make.  It may be too cold to sew much downstairs today, even with the space heater & that's okay by me.  I have the Irish Chain in the hoop for hand quilting. The dogs will curl up on the couch, the cats will snooze on their trees, DH will pop in a movie, I'll make a pot o' tea and all will be set for a quiet Christmas Eve.  And that should be the same scene for Christmas Day.
I'll be taking a break from blogging for a few days but I'll be back as Clue #5 of Bonnie Hunter's Celtic Mystery Quilt releases on Friday - can't wait to see what we are making next.
May all your Holidays be Bright!!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Celtic Solstice Progress - Four Patches!

Monday, Monday - Time to link up and see everyone's progress on Bonnie Hunter's  Celtic Solstice Mystery Quilt!!

Total Piece Count So Far For Small Size Quilt = 2044
Clue # 4 was released on Friday but I knew it would be Sunday before I could work on my quilt blocks. In order to actually sit and sew the four patches, I had to continue the sewing area clean out. While that project is not completely done, I did enough to justify some sewing time.  I'm saving the before, during and after pictures of the clean out for another post. But here you can see my sewing table all set for today.
Yes - those are more swords on the walls
Oh - the machine cover? Yes - it's new. I made it today.  I was gifted two beautiful hand woven cobalt blue place mats that are too precious to be used as place mats (Someone around here spills).  I carefully hand basted the two together to make a machine dust cover so if I ever feel that someone is careful enough I can make them mats again.  I LOVE the drape and feel of these mats.  It's like they are giving my sewing machine a hug.
  Once again, I set up the sewing table so that I was able to sub cut the nested matched pairs of patches just to the left of my machine.  
After cutting 10 units, I sat down & grabbed each pair as I was ready to chain stitch them. Minimal handling was the goal! After a chain of 10, I put in a scrap piece and cut the blocks apart for finger pressing - spinning my centers - and stacked the group to keep count. 
Today's quilting quality control inspector was... Ziggy!  She was making sure I had those units nesting together properly before stitching.
Ziggy checking seams
 And here's my tally as of 8:00 p.m. Sunday - 60 four patch blocks done & 60 to go.  I have strip sets ready to go so I should be able to knock the rest of these out fairly quickly.
Four Patch Progress
This mystery is awful mysterious - in a good way!!  I am resisting the urge to play with laying out the finished blocks, speculating on placement.  I am hoping we are using blue in the next clue - I think we need it for balance but then again I am partial to blue  - especially blue batiks! That and I am running low on a few of my oranges and don't want to run out.
Only 2 more 'sleeps' until Christmas - are you ready??

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Happy Winter Solstice - it' Snowing

Winter has officially arrived and with it comes a winter storm blowing through.  It started with rain yesterday, then freezing rain/ice and now the snow is coming down.  We are expected to get somewhere between 3-6 inches total as it continues to fall throughout today.  Given that there is ice under it all, we are going nowhere today and that suits me just fine! 
Ernestine Grindal
DH is having Christmas ornament shopping withdrawal.  We don't NEED any more ornaments and I have forbidden the purchase of any more!  We each had Christmas ornaments before we were together and in the ten years we have been married, we have amassed many more.  So what you say?  We have exactly one Christmas tree - it's 2 feet tall!!  This is because this batch of feline fur kids would cause havoc on any other trees within reach of their paws.  I love my husband but I really don't see the point of going Christmas ornament window shopping - I'll end up being the heavy & sayng no, no, no, no, no.  Give me patience! Thankfully Winter is being the heavy today - YAY!
I have already made a batch of sugar cookies which should keep the natives happy for a few hours.  I have a new cookie recipe from the Pioneer Woman - chocolate peanut butter cup cookies    I should go fire the oven back up & make them now for breakfast.
Plans for today - continuing the sewing area reorganization (must wrangle bobbins) and making 120 orange and teal four patches for my Celtic Solstice Mystery Quilt.  Oh, and maybe some laundry and definitely adding things to the donate boxes we are amassing as we empty out the boxes of stuff packed from the house remodel - YAY! 
 Clearing out clutter before the end of the year makes me happy - we're giving ourselves the gift of less stuff.  And when the stuff goes to a good cause, it can make someone else happy. 
Enjoy the now lengthening day of sunlight - I know I will!

Friday, December 20, 2013

2014 NewFO Challenge - Plan of Quilt Attack for the New Year

Barbara at Cat Patches is once again hosting a NewFO Challenge for 2014. Basically, she is our Enabler in Chief of starting new fabric projects, not necessarily finishing them (though there had better be finishes around here!).  This is something new for me so let's see where it leads. I'll use it for my purpose - reminder of where I want to go to get fabric changed from stash to quilts.
Below is My Plan of Quilt Attacks for 2014.  All those things floating around in my head on my wish to-do list of quilts are now out here for all to see. I can't plan the whole year out yet - things change way to much in my creative life and deadlines that seem so far off in the distance have a nasty way of creeping up and biting me in the rear.  This is my start - the first quarter-ish of the calendar year & the NewFO challenge may be just the thing to keep me on track (insert maniacal laughter here). 

Let's just see how far I get..
The new year is only a 11 days away & I think I want to kick it off with tackling some of the three challenge quilts I signed up & bought fabric for.  I had the info/materials since early June on two of them with the third not long after & not a design sketch in sight.  Shame on me! So first thing is to get out the info, check dimensions, read the rules & start sketching. It would be amazing to get them well on the way to being completed this month.
The three challenges are:
Sauder Village Challenge - Solids, Strips & Chevrons
MN Quilter Challenge - Starburst Fabric & FQs

WI Museum of Quilt and Fiber Arts - Yurt Panel Challenge (Winter)

There is an Oriental Quilt in Rose, Cream and Purple that needs to get started and done.  I am collaborating on the design so I'll have to get something on paper before February 1st.

Time to start the Nine Patch Design for the 2015 National Quilt Museum New Quilt from an Old Favorite contest.  I have a  flipping boatload  fairly good stash of batiks in blues & greens, that I've been collecting for this project.  I want to twist, turn and modernize this favorite classic block.  It needs to be done by November.  All of these need to be sorted by color and value and then photographed that way in order to maintain, well, order.  I pulled them all out as part of the sewing area redo to get them stored in one place.  No, I haven't counted them - it's better not to know.
Blues - in no particular order...yet
Greens - front of ironing board
Greens - back of ironing board
I have some cool Christmas batiks that I've been meaning to do something with...maybe a Festive lap quilt? Going to need a neutral to add to these. I bet there's one lurking in the stash in the garage...No Fabric Shopping Allowed (if you are wondering why, see blue batiks stash above)!

January - May
I will be participating in the LQS (Pieceful Gathering Quilt Shop) Peculiar Challenge again this year. It's called the Daring Downton Debacle and it will be a row quilt, using the Downton Abbey fabric collections by Andover. I chose the Lady Edith group of fabric with a darker blue & teal for contrast. Definitely different for me!


May - December - TBD!
After all, life is a moving target. There are a few small things I want to tuck in between the larger projects, like keeping a wall hanging in the small quilt frame to do some hand quilting in the evenings while watching TV with the DH.  And I still have the two French Braid quilts underway to finish. 

Fingers crossed for many Starts & Finishes for 2014!   What are your quilt dreams for the New Year?