A View of My Quilt Life

Friday, February 28, 2014

Last Day of February Recap and NewFO Link Up

February was a little slow quilt-wise.   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 February NewFO Challenge Linky Party 


My February 2014 quilt stats:

1 Quilt finished - Woo Hoo!! Machine quilted Bonnie Hunter 2013 Mystery Quilt Celtic Solstice. There is a ton of quilting on this one - all done on my Singer domestic machine

My 'Caribbean Solstice' is Done!!! 76" x 76"


1 new quilt row done for LQS (Pieceful Gathering) Daring Downton Debacle Challenge - 2nd month of a 5 month project using Andover Fabrics's Downton Abbey collection - machine pieced second row completed. It's a NewFO. I made a variation of the Gentleman's Fancy block.



1 in progress hand quilting project - 9 ring Double Wedding Ring wall/table top quilt. Since I didn't piece this, it is a NewFO in Progress. This went into the hoop after the Irish Chain came out. So far, three and a half of the nine ring sections have been quilted.


1 new quilt top in progress. It's a NewFO. Silk dupioni in jewel tones wall hanging. I am planning on sending this out for custom long arm quilting. 
6 more rows to go and then borders
I thought the design was going to be a free form improv piece but since I have limited amounts of silk, a design had to be sketched out. I do have enough of the jewel tones but am waiting on more black to arrive before I can finish this top.  It always seems to amaze me on how quickly you use up yardage for sashing strips. You think I'd remember that, wouldn't you?

There are more project just waiting to be started & March HAS to be the month for them!

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

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Up and Down - The Highs and Lows of Things

Yesterday brought some ups and some downs.

The Highs
The last of the flooring is down!  All that's left is for DH to put on the edge trim. These last dozen planks along the edge of the stairwell were laid with adhesive. So we also spent some time washing adhesive off  kitty paws.  Yes, we had barriers in place around the adhesive while it set up and no, you can't stop curious cats.  There are no pictures of that because four hands are barely enough to get the paws washed.  And I need to go back over the kitchen and dining room floors and deal with a few paw prints left  behind.  


The upstairs bathtub grout touch up and caulking is done!  I forgot to take a before picture but it looked similar to the caulk in the downstairs shower stall.  
Sad old caulk

Somebody before us applied acrylic caulk/sealant ON TOP of silicone caulk. Over time the acrylic dried out and pulled away from the surface, making it look terrible and allowing grunge to build up under the edges.  It had to go, as did the old silicone (still intact & doing its job).
Cleaned and grout touched up
 A few spots of grout needed a touch up and the new caulk went on.
 I cheated. Yes, I did - I used the Magic Caulk Tape.  So quick & easy & done!  The downstairs shower is next as part of the face lift it's going to get.

New caulk tape all around!

The Super High
I Won a Giveaway!! Oh and What a Giveaway!!! I was the winner of Christa Quilts Year of Weekly Giveaways # 46 - 10 yards of Riley Blake fabric from their Basics Collection called Shades in the Granite colorway!!!!! It's a rich mottled grey fabric with just a hint of purple.
Isn't it pretty?!!
 I was flying high all day and still am!  There were 376 Comments left on this post & I won - AMAZING!!  The DH was a little concerned when he heard me scream.  I not too calmly explained the reason & he got excited too. Though, I must confess that his happiness comes from that fact that this fabric is destined to be the back of his "Grey is Not a Color' quilt. Which means I no longer have ANY excuses to not get his quilt finished. You all will be seeing the progress here in future posts.


The Lows
I am officially out of black silk so the silk quilt is hanging out on the design wall until my shipment arrives. I did get the two royal blue rows sewn and attached. The deep purple and the royal blue are photographing as almost the same color. There is more of a difference in these two colors.
The deep purple and royal blue rows added
Early morning temps of -3 degrees F.  Sunny but cold, perfect for icicle watching.



Me.  I have joined the 'Lost Traction on the Ice' team on our own driveway.

The Polar Bear looks more graceful than I did - guaranteed!
And much like a 'not ready for the Olympics' ice skater, I landed on my left hip and hand. I'm fine - bruised and sore - but fine.  A few days of sewing should make it all better. Though there just may be a quick Road Trip thrown in for a change of scenery - we'll see.

Be careful out there.




Tuesday, February 25, 2014

LIGHTS, Camera, Quilt!

So I had a bit of a quiet quilting meltdown on Sunday.  I was trying to trim silk blocks to size. Black and deep purple silk on a green cutting mat...in my studio with it's bad lighting. ARGH!!!!  As you can imagine, it wasn't pretty.  The DH, wise man that he is, agreed something needed to be done. Quiet meltdowns are kind of scary to him I guess. 

BUT it is now!!  Well, not 'pretty' but it's bright & that is pretty awesome.  

The trip to Home Depot for the floor finish project supplies was detoured into the lighting aisles with so many options to pick from.  I knew what I didn't want.  I didn't want this to turn into a nightmare electrical rewiring the whole lower level of the house project.  I didn't want a 'pretty fixture', I didn't want something that takes over the space & makes it industrial workshop looking and I didn't want it permanent or expensive. In the end, I went practical, reasonably priced, removable, repositionable and BRIGHT.
         
10 1/2" Brooder Clamp Light 

Hung on a hook on the wood beam
I am using a 75 watt CFL daylight bulb and OH, what a difference it makes! 


That picture is taken without any of the other room lights on and the camera flash off. 
And so is this one.

YAY - I have LIGHT!!  I am one Happy Quilter! And all for $20!!  

There just may be another one if these lights in my future, for over my sewing table.  We'll deal with the hang-y cords later - there's a plan for that.



Monday, February 24, 2014

Spring?

Spring starts when?  Well, it depends on your definition of Spring.  

Meteorological Spring commences on March 1st - that's this Saturday - 5 days from today. The TV weather people are all talking about Spring this morning, as they report we are getting a blast of Polar Vortex air this week. Saturday's high temp is 17 degrees.  Kind of  ironic that it will be colder on Saturday than on Friday.

The Spring Equinox is March 20th - the traditional first day of Spring. That is still 26 days away - over 3 more weeks of Winter. 

Apparently, someone didn't get the memo on when Spring will really arrive.

Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal
You have to look close to see the female on the right side. The 'fuzziness' of this picture is caused by the falling sleet/icy snow and fog of last Thursday.  

We are making a Home Depot run later this morning as we tackle the finish work on the floor trim. I expect one of us will be making at least one more trip there before we are done with this little project.  

In between, I'll be working on the silk quilt.  I have just enough black to make two more rows. But I'll have to wait until my order arrives before I can work on the last six outside rows.  No new pictures of its current state but I feel the need to end with a quilt picture.  A deep purple row has been added to each end and the parts for two royal blue rows are on the cutting table.


 Have a great Monday!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Cabin Fever Cure - Challenge Yourself!

Snoodles at Lily Pad Quilts in hosting a  Cabin Fever Party. Check out what everyone is doing to combat cabin fever  this Winter by clicking the link above.

Wish this was my view right about now!

Cabin Fever??   Yep - we had signs of it popping up around here.

Much closer to what my view really is today.
December was the month of Sick Dogs and snow.  January was the Polar Vortex and more snow. February was a snow/cold cycle with some thunder snow and sleet/rain mixed in.  The last three months have not been conducive to road trips, riding or eating healthy either (the freezer was housing several pints of Ben & Jerry's, (replenished a few times). All those days of staying inside because it was not fit for woman or beast outside, can make the walls close in a bit. 

I've been in the studio - cleaning, organizing and stitching. I cranked through piecing and quilting my Caribbean Solstice quilt in January and started on the first row of Daring Downton Debacle Challenge quilt. February brought the second row of the DDD challenge quilt. Then came the all too brief thaw and a new balmy temp of 46 degrees - for 1 day. We are back down in the 20's temp-wise, snow expected and it just makes you want to slump in a chair as winter drags you back down.
blah, blah, blah, blah, blah......

ENOUGH ALREADY!!!!!
Clearly some Drastic Measures are needed here!!  And I had just the thing waiting in the wings.

BRIGHT COLORS!



CHALLENGING FABRIC!!  
It's SILK Dupioni, for Pete's sake!!!

DESIGN DECISIONS!!!



Time to beat the Cabin Fever into submission.  I switched on EVERY light I had in the studio (and we all know I need more lights in there), lit a spearmint candle (for a bright Spring-like energy), made a large pot of tea and got busy.

I originally thought I would just improv piece this top.  I couldn't  - I tried but couldn't do it.  I don't have a lot of the silk and didn't want to waste it.  I may take the leftovers and try something improv after this top if done.

I started with the smallest center square block of all the colors to see how they played against the black.

OOO - Dramatic contrast!!

Then moved on to working each individual color.  Here's the fuchsia blocks for the very center of the top.

This is what I have done so far.
Taken in the windy early morning light - love the glow!
I have enough of the bright colors but I am going to be short of the black.  It's already on order from Country Keepsakes

It is a Challenge (my word for 2014) and that's the whole point of doing it now. I need something to break the monotony of winter.  Yes, I have a lot of project planned that have Spring deadlines. I'm not ready to start stitching on them yet - those designs still need some work.  I have to pay close attention when I am working with the silks - they demand full concentration.   The silk is bright and slippery and sheds threads like mad! There is a learning curve for handling the stitching of it. The bright colors make me smile and that releases endorphins - excellent for beating cabin fever.

Break out of your usual quilt routine - throw in some bright colors, try new techniques, change your size, scale and direction, make a fabric mess in your studio or just play with fabric!  Those are my antidotes for cabin fever.

Most of winter is in our rear view mirror.  It will give us a few more mule kicks before Spring blows in but we come this far and the days are getting longer, giving us more daylight hours. I've also read, watched Downton Abbey Season 1, 2 & 3 on DVD, planned the repainting of the downstairs bathroom (bicycle yellow - a light, bright, lemony, creamy yellow and Belgian cream), helped with the new closet install, and cooked.

That's all for now... I need to go de-silk thread my studio, the stairway carpet and a dog or two.  What are you doing to overcome your cabin fever?



Saturday, February 22, 2014

Just Use Your Danged Tools Already

We'll pick up where we left off on the DDD challenge quilt - the shortage of the blue floral medallion fabric.  A shortage, I confess, was caused by my own hand.  It's true - I was 'winging' it and in the process creating too much waste.  When working with triangle and foundation piecing, it's still best to cut the rough shape and not just use strips, whacking off & wasting chunks of fabric. I know that and yet I was so anxious to see how the gentleman's fancy blocks would turn out, I forged ahead without thinking of the consequences. Well, DRAT, we all know how that turned out - Fabric Shortage!

The really stupid thing about this is that I after using the Easy Angle ruler in the making of my Caribbean Solstice quilt, I bought the Companion Angle ruler - just a week or so ago. Before I was making the GF blocks. DUH!! In the picture below, you can clearly see that the shape I needed is the Companion Angle triangle. 


All cut & ready to go!
 Could have saved some frustration, gas & time if I had just used my new quilting tool!  Beat head against wall here - to make sure the lesson learned stays in the brain.
Use the Right Tool for the Job!

I did cut the triangles slightly larger than they needed to be but at this point, I didn't want any shy seam allowances.  I did have to trim back a bit before attaching the cream corner triangle (oh, look - you used your Easy Angle ruler for those!).


 Having the right tools and using them make nice, neat accurate units to attached to the center section of the blocks. Lesson Learned!!!


And finally, I was able to get the two rows outside this morning for a better picture.  These two rows will not be next to each other in the final layout - at least that's my plan but this is a challenge quilt so one never knows.  I can pick up March's challenge guidelines next Saturday, right when they open their doors. 



In the meantime, on to other projects!

Friday, February 21, 2014

We Killed the Keuring

I did not know it was possible but we did it - we killed our Keuring coffee machine.


DH loves his coffee.  He loved his Keuring machine. And we killed it.

It is a machine that holds/heats water and our water is crappy.  The machine has a warning light for running a descaling cycle.  Only thing is, is that by the time the descaling light comes on, it's too late. Way. Too. Late.

Ask me how I know.  And I should have known better.  White vinegar is your best cleaning weapon and I do know that.  (The DH has finally gotten over the 'it smells like pickles' thing he first objected to when I use it around the house.)

 And since he uses the coffee machine several times in one day, he should have paid more attention to the owners manual where it states "descale every 3-6 months regardless of the indicator light".

After a lengthy debate, the Keuring has been replaced. 


 The budget will be adjusted and life goes on. 

The DH has put descaling reminders on the kitchen calendar, every 2 months (!) for the remainder of the year, to avoid any further premature deaths.

We will not speak of this incident ever again.



Thursday, February 20, 2014

Fabric Hunting

So remember yesterday and the unfinished blocks made from the Downton Abbey collection for the second row? 
Really need better pictures with good lighting - and soon!
Yep - that's the one - I need more of the blue floral medallion fabric to finish and I gave myself permission to go to the quilt store to buy it.  Only thing was, Pieceful Gatherings was out of stock on this one & the green floral medallion that I know I'm going to need more of too. And while they have it on order, there's no telling when it will arrive.  It appears I have  apparently designed myself into a corner, again. DRAT!! 

What to do, what to do??!! 

I let my fingers do the walking and called almost every quilt shop in a 40 mile radius, repeating my request for help with my dilemma.  Of course, I was hoping to find it local so I could get the block and rows done.  Ten quilt shops later & I found it!!  At Quilters Quest, 43 miles away but they had both fabrics! The weather was bright, sunny and 46 degrees - perfect for a a little drive for fabric shopping.  YES - we are melting here. It will take awhile before we ever see bare ground but we are starting a thaw/refreeze cycle typical of this time of year.  Today we have ice, sleet, rain and snow forecasted, so that will be interesting, which made yesterday a better day for fabric hunting.

I went, I bought, I came home & I washed. 



Oh and two other fabrics tagged along back home with me.  I swear I don't know how they ended up in my shopping bag . No, really I don't! But I bet you all do.  Just look at that batik! It's FABULOUS! 

And the violet? Well, that is Marcus Fabrics Shot-Cee (shot cotton), yarn dyed woven cotton fabric. It's only a fat quarter that I am testing out to see how it washes and dries.  I have had experience with others shot cottons so I want to see how this one stacks up.  It's a bit soft in hand and the weave didn't tighten up as much as I had hoped it would.


Now I can get the center block done for the DDD row quilt and get them all sewn together.  The silks are waiting on the cutting table...


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Almost, but Not Quite

I had a great sewing day working on the Gentleman's Fancy blocks yesterday.  In between, I helped the DH with the installation of his Valentine's gift.


This becomes that - not his actual closet but you get the idea.  This is the ShelfTrack system by ClosetMaid.  This is the first time the DH has installed a system like this but I have used it twice before. I love the flexibility of this system- it has held the huge fabric totes in the garage for over a decade.


 Our challenge was getting the spacing right to accommodate his tall size shirts and maximizing the storage space / configuration of shelves and clothes rods.

Meanwhile, in the studio, a lot of sewing was going on!  I had five blocks to make with 49 pieces per block.  Can I just say I love foundation paper piecing?!  Rather than photocopying the block designs, I draw each block separately on graph paper to help insure accuracy.

Note - ALWAYS use good quality name brand graph paper!! I grabbed a lesser quality graph paper pad once, only to discover it was NOT 4 squares to an inch and almost lost my mind trying to draft on it. It was five squares to an inch - kind of, sort of, not really - ARGH!  I admit it - I am a bit of a supply snob when it comes to graph paper, pencils, pens, markers and the like.  But these are tools I will not compromise on quality.

A few of my favorite things...
Mead Cambridge Graph Paper

(Sanford Newell Rubbermaid) Papermate Mirado Black Warrior Pencils

Uni-ball Jetstream Pens


Anyway, back to quilt blocks. Here is what I started with this morning - block parts.


And this is where I ended up.

Almost, but not quite, a sewn together row.  I ran out of the blue background floral fabric (I only had a fat quarter) before I was able to finish the outer sections of the center block.  I will HAVE to go to the quilt shop tomorrow - oh, darn. This is the only fabric purchase allowed by the Shop the Stash rule. Fabric required for challenges is allowed. Running amok in a quilt shop is not.

I am happy with the block variation I chose to make and with the color progression. Just need to finish the center block to have a complete picture. I also like the way the two rows play together, even though there will be sashing between them.  This quilt may end up with a pieced sashing to join the block designs visually - have to wait and see on that.