A View of My Quilt Life

Friday, January 31, 2014

Last Day of January Recap & NewFO Link Up

This month was pretty good.  I'm happy with my progress so far this year. I am participating in Barbara at Cat Patches 2014 NewFO Challenge. Click here to see everyone's new projects on  January NewFO Linky Party.

My January 2014 quilt stats:

1 Quilt finished - Hand quilted Irish Chain wall hanging for my Studio.

1 Top finished - machine pieced Bonnie Hunter 2013 Mystery Quilt Celtic Solstice. The block assembly and arrangement was announced at midnight (Eastern) on New Year's Eve.  That set off a mad rush to my sewing machine for some serious chain piecing to turn all those 3 inch units into blocks and then a top.
Caribbean Solstice

1 new quilt started. LQS (Pieceful Gathering) Daring Downton Debacle Challenge - 1st month of a 5 month project using Andover Fabrics's Downton Abbey collection - machine pieced first row completed. It's a NewFO.

1 new hand quilting project - 9 ring Double Wedding Ring wall/table top quilt. Since I didn't piece this, it is a NewFO, too. This went into the hoop after the Irish Chain came out. So far, two of the nine ring sections have been quilted, working on that third section.

1 new design on the starting block - silk dupioni in jewel tones wall hanging. Tentatively scheduled to be sent out for custom long arm quilting and entered in LQS annual show.


The design is just barely a rough sketch in my head and it may never be more refined than that. I'm thinking this needs to be a free form improv piece.  Possibly. Maybe. We'll see. I'm not sure. 

If you are keeping track, how did you do for January?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Houston, We Have a Problem!

I Swear - Nothing every goes according to Plan!

See, I had a Plan. The DH liked the Plan. It was a Good Plan. And then the wheels fell off.

Here it is the middle of this week and I haven't had a washing machine since the middle of last week and I am surrounded by things that need washing.  

The DH & I went out last Sunday and bought a washer, scheduling the delivery for Wednesday, knowing that I would stay home & wait for the delivery men, while he went to his Ortho Dr. appointment alone. That was the Plan.  Which meant, had things gone along with the Plan, I would be able to systematically attack the pile of unwashed things and have them clean, folded and put away by late today.

So the very nice delivery men arrive a bit BEFORE the scheduled time. And the very nice delivery men CARRY my washer into the house - no trolley to muck things up.
And the very nice delivery men very gently set the washer down...

next to my cutting table.

No - I do not plan on relocating the laundry room to the middle of the Studio.
No - this is not a new Modern Art installation
No - this is not where it needs to be at all.

What this is is the Problem. Or more accurately, the problem is in the picture below.

Right there - the shut off valves or rather, one shut off valve and one not-going-to-ever shut off valve. The blasted thing is completely stripped, corroded and useless. And it is preventing the disconnecting of the old washer and the installing of the new washer. It is not making me a happy camper.

The DH and I have to decide if we are going to tackle this DIY project or call in a plumber.  Normally, I am all for doing it myself BUT the cold temps and water and malfunctioning shut off valves might be a tad bit above my pay grade.

DOUBLE DRAT BLAST!  I just going to have to make a cuppa, grab my thimble and get some hand quilting done while I come up with a new Plan.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Squishy Package in the Post

In the midst of last week's adventures, the post brought me a squishy package.

I LOVE Squishy Packages!!

This one contained some extra special squishy bits - FABRIC!!

OH! Pretty Batiks!  The reason this is so extra special is that this fabric was what I purchased using the gift certificate to The Fat Quarter Shop I won from Creatin' in the Sticks blog from the Giving Thanks Quilt Blog Hop organized by The Quilting Gallery back in November. (Thanks Carla!).  These are the 10" square Patty Cakes of the Jinny Beyer Malam Batiks by RJR Fabrics.  I chose the 'Lagoon' and the 'Sumatra' colorways with 15 fabrics each.  It was so worth waiting for these to be in stock & shipped out - the colors are fabulous.

Not sure what these will be but they are welcome additions to the batik stash.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

View From My Chair

This was a view from my chair a few days ago. 

Ziggy loves hanging out on top of the cat condo, catching some rays in the afternoon sunspot.  The top of the condo has been reinforced with wood shelving boards topped with washable comforters making it an awesome kitty hangout, complete with a west facing  picture window.

This is the view from my chair this week.

The Polar Vortex is Back!  With winds gusting to 50 mph and wind chill temps dipping to -30 to -40 F, we have a few unique solutions - involving quilts. My log cabin quilt blocks any draft the polar vortex west wind throws at us.  It is really pretty when the sun  shines through it - love the extra detail of seeing the seam lines. 

Ziggy misses her sunspot but the house is much more comfy. Wherever you are, stay safe and stitch on!  What's your view?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Cinnamon Rolls, Shopping and ...Snow!

Saturday night turned out to be a late night with an early morning wake up crash - courtesy of Zena doing a bit of 'not allowed' exploring. The sound of breaking ceramic about two feet away from my head roused me, both dogs, the DH from the bedroom, and sent the cats flying away in fright - fortunately no one was hurt! After a few more hours of sleep and a slow morning, we were ready to tackle the washer shopping but first...

Any professional shopper (or in other words, any woman with a wallet) knows you don't venture forth into the fray without suitable fortification! YUM!!  

I had done some research, gathered some personal opinions, required some specific options and, of course, budget was a  concern.  Even with all of that, the DH and I went back and forth between a few different models once we determined which store would get our business.

After really really discussing our needs, we determined the best machine for us need to be:
1.  3.9 cu. ft. capacity - large enough for quilts, 108" wide quilt backings measuring several yards long, and comforters;
2.  Energy efficient and as high efficiency as possible, but with a full size traditional agitator;
3.  Top loading; and
4.  Have multiple wash/ rinse options, water level selections and a no extra computerized components.

Our four hour shopping search (5 stores) ended at Home Depot, with the final choice being this GE model - very close to the one we have now, option-wise.

It was on SALE, though towards the high end of our budget.  The real bonus is that it comes with free delivery, basic installation and haul away of the old machine AND 6 month interest free financing!  We opted for stainless steel hoses and the extended 5 year warranty! 

It arrives on Wednesday.  I. Can't. Wait.

We made it home just as the little white flakes from heck started flying about...again.
Can you say 'hunker down'?!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Happy Saturday!

It has been a very long week and I'm glad we've hit the weekend!

We covered a lot of ground this week - 

DH had his birthday.
The DDD challenge row of Royal Cross blocks is done.
My mom had a great follow up appointment with her surgeon a week after surgery, though it was a cold, windy tiresome day for both of us.
The washer died :(
Drake ended up a the emergency vet at 2 am Thursday with a severe allergic reaction to an apparent spider bite. Nobody got any sleep that night - especially DH who had taken a sleeping pill about a half hour before I woke him to go to the clinic with me.
Thursday was a very slow day punctuated by multiple pill times and a few cranky human moments. By the end of the day, all was pretty much back to normal and everyone was ready for a good night's rest. Drake is fine.
No new quilt designing got done, though I did some review and pre-planning on the MN Quilters Challenge

and the Sauder Village Challenge  rules and guidelines.

And a few ideas have been rolling around in my brain about the winter themed yurt panel challenge - maybe snowflakes!  Need more brain power on that.

As there is another cold snap coming, washer shopping begins in earnest tomorrow - cross your fingers!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Royal Cross Blocks

I was back in the studio working on the Royal Cross blocks.  I still had to stitch up the fifth block and it went together easily - with lots of pins of course.

Before I gave the blocks a good pressing, I trimmed all the seams.  It really eased those curves and helped flatten everything down. 

I still haven't decided on the center piece, though I'm leaning toward the cream to tie in with the corners. 
blocks laid out - untrimmed

Row of Royal Cross blocks all stitched together
The little center piece applique project didn't get done yet.  I had an adventure instead.
In the middle of the afternoon, DH called me into the laundry room to show me oil splatters all over the brand new set of bed sheets.  And the oil ring around the inside the washer. ARRGGHH!!!!

I headed to the laundromat and after two washes with all my extra stain removing tricks, the oil spots are clean but still there.  Not making me a happy camper BUT it could have been worse. The new sheets were about $25.00. Replacing a load of jeans and shirts would be a whole lot more!!

After consulting with my friend Pam's appliance repair guy, the washer has been officially declared dead.  The transmission blew and it will cost as much to repair it as it will to replace the whole machine. The washer is almost 11 years old and has washed miles and miles of fabric, besides mountains of clothes.

Hoping to get the wee applique pieces done today and move on to other projects - like quilt challenge design and washer shopping.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Second Time Around

What a difference a day can make!

I went back to the beginning and thought through the assembly process for the Royal Cross block.  The conclusion is YES, the trumpet units must be stitched to the corner units before being stitched to the pointy hat pieces. 

Time to make the corner units 

One of these things is not like the others - not sure how that happened.
 and join them to the trumpets.

Now to tackle those curved seams.  My first attempts validated the need to Pin, Pin, Pin and then use one more pin!

It also helps to stitch the seam slowly - it 's easier to follow the line and avoid hitting all those pins with the machine needle.  

The green pieces were cut larger than needed

Make four of these and then join them together.

By the time I got to the fourth block, it was getting better. I got into the rhythm of the pieces.  Kind of ironic as I only have to make five of these blocks.

Here are the first three blocks laid out in order.  They need to have the seams trimmed as the fabric was rough cut after the shape was traced.  A good pressing will get them good and flat.  A center piece will be appliqued on after I figure out which fabric to use.

The day was sunny and bright but cold.  Drake wanted to keep me company and catch some rays so I had a thick comforter folded in fourths to protect him from the cold floor and the space heater was about three feet away from him. 

Loving the sunlight!
Today there are snow flurries and more cold. Between that and the hurt shoulder I got last night, some gentle sewing, challenge design work and resting is on the horizon for me.  The DH is more than willing to help me get around today. Stupid shoulder! Clumsy me!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I Have a Date...

With my Seam Ripper!

Remember that old saying "The faster I go, the slower I get"?

Well, I got a little to ahead of myself over thinking the assembly of the DDD Royal Cross blocks. I was so anxious to try the curved seams on the machine, rather than by hand, I skipped over attaching the corner unit to the trumpet piece. 

Ask me how I know.

Yep!  Because I didn't do it right the first time.

Live and learn.

You may or not be able to tell but it's buckling a bit too.  That's because I also stitched past the seam allowances on two pieces that are not suppose to be joined that far down.  I should only have to take out the last few stitches in each seam. We'll see. All the edges are biased of course and too much handling will make the whole thing wonky.  This may end up as a test block and be discarded.

Thankfully, I can get a bit more of the Downton Abbey fabric, if need be.  The others came from the stash (Shop the Stash) and I can always substitute in a pinch.  Way different color scheme than my usual - it is a Challenge, after all. Hopefully, I am up to it.

On the home front, my travel plans for today to go down and see Mom (recovering from surgery) have been cancelled.  We got a few inches of the dreaded white stuff last night and into the early morning hours that is blowing and drifting some over roads. That can be a pain but what makes it stupid is that wind chills are about -23 F, which make the salt on the roads less effective and and the plows removing any snow also remove the salt which can't work properly anyway. NOT worth leaving the house.

Which plays right into my plan of stitching instead.  Hope you all get to do what you want to do today.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Put the Pencil Down, Step Away From the Paper and Go Sew Something Already!

The design work on the Daring Downton Debacle (DDD) challenge quilt continues.  I find that the design/coloring sometimes works better if you leave it rest overnight and go back to it the next day.  That's usually when I decide I don't like what you thought you did like.  Once I get the block layout the way I want it, I copy the line design a few times so I can play with coloring. 

If you look at the coloring samples, you can see the thought process as it moves along. I was going to do the second one down but I reversed the placement of the orange and green pieces and now I'm doing the bottom coloring.

I definitely doing the lap size quilt, which means 9 inch blocks. Good thing as it is 29 pieces per block. Some of the pieces have unique curved shape and sizes - like the strip that is just under and an inch and an eighth, before seam allowances.  The solution I came up with is...cardboard templates!  Since the original block credit dates to 1898, this method seems very appropriate.

Once I had the coloring layout planned, I made a cut list and started on the half square triangle units. It's about dang time some fabric was involved in this project!

All of the green  pointy hat bits have been cut out, too.The DDD is officially underway!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Starting a New Challenge!!

Yesterday was snowy so the nothing much was stirring in this house.

Most inhabitants were more concerned with keeping warm rather than being active.

Even the DH decided to postpone a Walmart run until today. 

I declared it a quilt design day! It's time to start working on a new challenge.

A LQS - Pieceful Gathering Quilt Shop - has started their third annual challenge quilt.  The Challenge is The Daring Downton Debacle (DDD) using the fabric group, The Downton Abbey collection from Andover.  

Collection of Downton Abbey fat quarters
We are making a row quilt this year and the first month of instructions have been released.  I needed to find a royalty named block.  I finally got a chance to dive into this book.

I looked for king or queen name blocks - nothing I liked.  So I hunted royal and found...

This is 'The Royal' (Ladies' Art Company, 1898) or 'Royal Cross'.

Okay - I like it and think I can work with this - it needs to be either a 6" or 9" block. Time to break out the graph paper and get busy.  Starting by just drawing the basic block in rows, then drawing the row again with variations.  I got a little carried away and drew some variations that had 25 pieces in each block, with some really sharp acute pointy curves - in a 6 inch block! I don't think so. In order to see how it will look with color, I need to make a swatch card and assign a pencil color to each fabric.  I shopped the stash to add to the Downton Abbey fat quarters and have a total of 21 fabrics so far.

Making it one row at a time means some decisions regarding color placement won't be able to be changed so I have to just go with my gut.  That kind of approach can war with my control freak gene, so it's a matter of pushing ahead, releasing control, and going with the flow. 

The block variation I like has 29 pieces. Really??!!! Okay - Deep Breath! I think these are going to be 9 inch blocks.  And I may have to rethink that block design.

I don't (yet) watch the Downton Abbey series but I may have to start - for mandatory quilt design educational purposes. Yeah, that's what I'll tell the DH in order to wrestle control of the remote!