A View of My Quilt Life

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

December Recap & December 2014 New FO Link Up

I am participating in Barbara at Cat Patches 2014 NewFO Challenge. Click here to see everyone's new projects  December NewFO Challenge and Linky Party

Barbara has been graciously hosting this for three years and this is the last one as she has decided to retire the NewFO for the time being. A huge THANK YOU to Barbara for inspiring us to just start something new, anything new - each and every month!

My December 2014 quilt stats:

1 Ongoing NewFO:  I am working on my Bonnie Hunter Grand Illusion mystery quilt, along with thousands of other quilters across the globe! I technically started this on Saturday, November 29th but close enough since every week since I worked on a new clue.  Pictured below are the units from each of the five weeks so far.

We should be getting close to the finish on this – can’t wait to see how it all comes together!!  Interestingly enough, I am only using 1 green, 1 turquoise, 1 cream, 1 yellow & 1 black and only 7 different pinks!  Twelve fabrics total - that’s not very many for me at all!!

1 New FO:  I have started on the baby/kids quilt made from the Moda Chirp, Chirp jelly roll.  

I chose to work with the lighter, patterned strips for this project. Leaving the strip doubled over, I cut 4.5 inch segments (bricks) until I could only cut a 2.5 square.  I took each pair of the bricks and sewed them together into 4.5 inch squares.  

These larger squares will be sashed by a solid color to form the center of the quilt body. White and pale green were under consideration for the sashing - green won.

The 2.5 inch square will also be sashed by the solid color and be used as the borders.  According to my sketch and preliminary quilt math, it should finish about 50 x 60.

1 Challenge NewFO moving up to design stage:  Fabric swatch card is at the ready.  

The drafting of the design and color placement has commenced.  

The triple windmill design is based on an 8 x 8 grid.  The only way for me to piece this will be on paper foundations!

1 New Idea – a pre-NewFO:  I’ve been thinking about flying geese in citrus batiks, and how they can line dance across a quilt. Preliminary design sketches are as far as I’ve got. But this deadline is just under two years away so I’m right on track!

Thought I would get more started/done this month but not so much!  There’s always next year!

And no, I don’t have my 2015 Quilt plan put together yet but that definitely NEEDS to get done over the next few days.  I don’t make resolutions. I make plans, with timelines & deadlines – especially for the challenge quilts.

See you all next year!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Taking Stock - Horse

It's the time of year that I take a look back at what I've done over the past year, gauge my progress and chart out a possible direction for the coming year.  I do this for each of my many irons in the fire.

Today, it's all about my riding and the horse aspect of my life.

Past - back riding for about two years now after being away from it and horses in general for over two decades.

Progress - good so far. Riding a variety of horses, each with their own personalities, abilities and quirks. Learning and sharing with riders of all ages and levels. Much success in finding others tack (new & used at excellent bargains) and accessories. 

Projection (and this is where it gets interesting, folks!) - My friend P has recently started jumping instruction.  We were able to find her not one, but two replacement training saddles the Friday after Thanksgiving.  When she started the discussion on the jump lessons, I started to think about where I wanted to go with my riding.  
For me, jumping is OUT, as my ankles won't handle the stress of it.  But I had been thinking I wanted to do more focused riding. 

I mulled and mulled and then made the mistake of posing a hypothetical question to my trainer, regarding which bit I would need in the event I decided to pursue schooling dressage, bearing in mind I was only THINKING about it.  It's like talking to myself - she was doing the happy dance at the very idea! 

Deciding to school dressage is another level of commitment to riding, requiring entirely different tack and equipment.  Thankfully, I am NOT thinking about showing at this point, as that would break the checkbook!!  But new tack, and more specifically dressage tack, especially the saddle, even used, is expensive.  There is still some money set aside for my horse activities but I don't want to deplete it on gear & not all in one huge chunk.  

This set off a few visits to local tack shops to try out some different brands of used dressage saddles and start the research process. Yes, new is totally out of the questions as I insist on real leather and a brand new real leather dressage saddle is roughly half the price of a good used car - before you buy the leather, stirrups and girth!  YIKES!!

Come Spring, there will be local 4H tack sales but there's no guarantee I will find something suitable in the size I need. And the largest and most promising sale is 4 months away...

What's a Shopping Maven to do??  Research, research, research and hunt online of course!  Patience is not my long suit but I learned a lot, sat a few different brands and then, found this online:

It's an older model dressage saddle by Zaldi (a fourth generation Spanish company who has been making saddles for over 100 years).  They are more well known in Europe and the UK. Zaldi dressage saddles are used at the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Arts. They also make trekking, endurance, side saddles, traditional Portuguese saddles,  as well as many kinds of specialty children's and special needs saddles.  

It should arrive sometime this week, fingers crossed.  I took a bit of a risk on this as, of course, I didn't have a chance to sit it.  If it doesn't work out, I'll be selling it on at one of the upcoming tack sales and be back at square one in the dressage saddle hunt.

Hypothetical, my butt!  I'm starting down a new riding path for 2015. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Grand Illusion Clue #5 - Done!

Linky time for Bonnie Hunter's Grand Illusion mystery quilt!

Bonnie gave us an easy Clue #5 - Four Patches.

Mine are all done & stashed in the drawer, away from little paws.  Even better news is that I finally finished Clue #3!

They weren't hard, just took a bit time that the pre-Christmas crush didn't allow.  Friday seems a long time away for Clue #6.  This year's mystery is definitely easier than last year's Celtic Solstice, though I have no idea what the layout could possibly be.

I've had a lovely Holiday break from work. Today is the last of six days off so I am planning on squeezing in some more sewing time. 

Yesterday during Quilt Cam, I trimmed half a gazillion dog ears off the bonus HSTs...still the other half a gazillion to go! 

Hope your Grand Illusion is coming along!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Boxing Day!

Around here, I'm celebrating Boxing Day with LOTS of sewing!!

Clue #5 of the Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt releases this morning and I still have over half of Clue #3 units to finish - Squares, Squares, Squares!

The DH will be happy upstairs with two new video games to play. The fridge and freezer are stocked should he get hungry. The cats have some catnip and Drake has a new Kong toy. I will be in my Studio, stitching away!

Christmas was spent quietly together. Santa ran a little amok this year with gifts.

See this pretty, pretty box?

This is what it held - screwdrivers!

Yep - DH bought me not one, but two of these.  They have 7 changeable micro sized screwdriver heads that store in the handle.  Perfect for eyeglasses and laptops!  I'll have one for my desk at work & one for my backpack. Nope, I really, really wanted these!

And then he got me this.

An iron!  He was a bit hesitant to get me an 'appliance' for Christmas but I assured him the quilter in me would do the happy dance...and she did!  It's wee, lightweight, portable and just what I need/want! 

For Sweet Man, orange & black are the new Christmas red & green!

Black & Decker orange & black: battery, quick charger, safety glasses, spade bit set (rolled up), and gyro screwdriver.

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas day. 

Tomorrow's post - some quilty gifts and what I (hopefully - fingers crossed!) bought during the after Christmas Day sale.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas to All!!

T'was early Christmas Morning and not a creature was stirring...
well, except for me , the dog and all three cats!

That leaves my DH, Sweet Man still asleep in his bed.

I've only a short wait and he'll be up and about so I'd better be quick here.

Before you know it there will be presents to unwrap

and breakfast to make. 

Fortunately, we've no travel plans for today, though it's not too cold out and the snow forecasted, never arrived.  We'll spend the day together, hanging with the pets, watching movies, hand stitching and noshing holiday food all day!

But before all the festivities begin here, I want to wish everyone a very

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas Eve!

There are still presents to wrap, 

a gift hunt to map, 

cookies to bake, 

and quilt units to make.

Today is the first day of a week off work and while there may be things to do, I am going to go slow and just enjoy the process.  Of course, I was up before my work alarm would have gone off, raring to go, not wanting to miss a minute. 

First up is wrapping the DH's presents, hopefully before he rolls out of bed!  I came home early from work yesterday to find my Sweet Man in my studio!  Lo and behold, my cutting and sewing tables had be commandeered as Gift Wrap Central!  He was working around and on top (!) of the Grand Illusion blocks and strips I hadn't put away because he didn't want to mess anything up.  I was promptly banished upstairs!  So no sewing was done yesterday but I did spend some time on eBay! 

Let's not mention that to DH right now... when the boxes arrive will be soon enough. 

 A girl has to keep herself amused now doesn't she???

Venturing out will be done as soon as shops open this morning!  The weatherman is predicting snow later today - heavy & wet.  Can't complain because we've only had a tiny bit so far this winter and while I'm grateful for that, it would be nice to have a white Christmas. 

This morning, I am linking up with:

 My Christmas quilty item is a small tree skirt I made several years ago.  It's not fancy or intricately quilted but it was a challenge that I am proud of.

You see, I decided to make this long after this fabric was out of print and I only had a few fat quarters - not exactly ideal conditions!  There was no convincing me other wise, I am much to stubborn to give up in the face of adversity. 

I was going to make this no matter what and I did.  That's when the true global-ness of our quilting passion came into focus for me.  I was able to hunt down more of this print...on the internet ... in the United Kingdom! We won't mention the exact dollar amount spent on this little project but needless to say, there were shipping charges involved.

My wedges had to be modified in order to make this work.  I drafted the pattern on paper taking into consideration the depth of the skirt, the repeat of the print rows, the size I needed and the amount of fabric I had.  I love the bright spirit of the season this fabric captures.

And may that bright spirit of the season fill your heart, however you celebrate the winter holidays.

Time to go wrap some presents! 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Clue # 4 - Triangles MY Way

For Clue #4 of Bonnie Hunter's Grand Illusion mystery, we were making more broken dishes units.  This means more half square triangles.   

There are many different ways of making these blocks - and a lot of consternation about how hard they are to make.  But since there are so many methods of making them, a quilter needs only to try the different ones until you find a way that feels right for YOU!  HSTs are a basic unit, a necessary component in a quilter's arsenal.  Sometimes being a quilter involves challenging yourself to learn something new or stepping outside your comfort zone or even, doing some math.  Practice makes muscle memory. 

For this clue, I put aside my Easy Angle ruler and went a little old school.  You see, Clue  #2 resulted in the huge pile of BONUS triangles units in black & cream and pink & cream. Aren't they pretty?

Hmm, they ARE nice but could they maybe do with some company?   Yes, why not! Instead of using my Easy Angle ruler to make the matched triangle pairs, all nicely lined up and ready to chain piece, I cut 2.5 inch squares of turquoise and cream. Out came the Gelly Roll pen and I started drawing lines.

 One line was on the true diagonal. The second line is drawn using my 2 inch triangle buddy plastic template. Using this method, each square gave me 1 HST for the GI broken dishes and 1 bonus triangle for the stash!  Did I make more work for myself and use more fabric?  Yes to both! I think it was worth it.

The neutral squares were almost invisible on the drawing paper. 

Being well prepared an office supply junkie paid off as I had this blue paper on hand. Okay, I confess - I also have yellow, orange, pink, & lime green paper  (it was an assortment package). Probably not something I use often but I am prepared in the event of an urgent need for colored paper, just like this one.

What a difference it makes!  So much easier to see the corners. Okay, so I later realized that I only needed to draw lines on either the turquoise or the cream - NOT both - DUH!  Fortunately I this came to me before I drew all the lines. No excuse other than it was late in the evening when I was doing this and the brain was tired.

Once I had drawn lines,  I started chain piecing ten units at a time - first the  middle diagonal line, then the bonus triangle line.  The extra sewing goes really fast this way.  Some clipping, cutting and finger pressing and there you have them - Half Square Triangles done my way for this clue.

Why did I choose this method this time?  Solely to enjoy the benefit of having turquoise & cream bonus HSTs!!

Aren't these pretty together?  

Into the container they go, joining the pink and black ones.

Lovely! Just Lovely! The unit stash grows.  As of right now, I'm not sure what I'll do with the bonus HSTs but it will be fun to play with them.  

Now if only I can convince the DH to trim those dog ears for me.  

I wonder if he'll do it for pie...

Monday, December 22, 2014

Clue #4 - Progress!

Time to link up with everyone sharing their progress on Bonnie Hunter's Grand Illusion  mystery.

I actually made it to almost finishing Clue # 4!  Woo Hoo!!

Only 10 more units to make - just ran out of time last night. 

Of course, I still have most of Clue #3 - 2 x 4 patches to make.  This is all I got done last week.

Those are on the schedule for this week to get done.  I am off Wednesday through Monday, with very few outside activities planned so hopefully I'll have lots & lots of Studio time!!  

And of course, the next clue releases on Friday so I should have time (fingers crossed) to get that one done by next Monday's link up. 

Tomorrow - how I made my HSTs for Clue # 4 and why.