Thursday, December 31, 2020

Goodbye 2020

 Well, we've made it to the end of what has probably been one of the most difficult year's most of us have ever been through. 

I do want to reflect a bit today on what good I want to take from this pandemic time into my future....things like slowing down the pace a bit, and enjoying life's little pleasures.

I don't usually make New Year's resolutions, but I do have one in mind inspired by my friend Terry. 2021 will be the year of tackling UFO's!!! Really, I mean it this time!!!

I also want to continue the Intermittent Fasting lifestyle that I've enjoyed for over two years now. I can't see any reason that I would stop since I feel much healthier and younger for it.

Yesterday I pulled out the first UFO that I had in mind to Geometric Fun quilt...

This is three of the 20 blocks in the quilt. I have to say, it is not a user-friendly pattern...which is why I walked away from it in May 2019. But, I've always intended to get back to it.

Looking at it on the design wall I just felt a bit of dread. So, I've let this one longer a UFO, but a ______ (we have to think of an acronym for a quilt that we decide to never finish). Quilting is something I do for fun...this quilt is not fun and there is still much to complete. I do feel a sense of relief making the decision to not it must be the right choice.

So many choices of what to work on. I've decided on returning to my Midnight at the Oasis, a Jen Kingwell design...

I'll say this one is 4yrs old....I know I was hand-piecing the triangles on the centre medallion on an airplane in December of 2016. There are a number of small churn-dash blocks on one of the following rounds and that stopped me from continuing. I am glad to return to this quilt...what a difference from when I had the previous quilt up on the design wall!

You'll notice that I've added a new "button" over in the right-hand margin for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge 2021. I think I may join in on it this year (crap, did I just break my resolution before 2021 even started????). It's a way of busting the stash a's worth a look if you want to consider joining in. Just click on the button and it will take you over to SoScrappy's blog, the host of the RSC. The colour for January is pink. 

I've finally had time during my Christmas break to do a bit of sewing. I think I'll try to incorporate a bit of sewing in each of my days....I really do seem to get a lot more done by hand than machine!

Here is what I've been working on this week, my Spice Market quilt...

This is not the final layout for Spice Market, it's just all the blocks completed so far, hung willy-nilly. The next step is many, many appliqued circle blocks. I find the solid fabrics very unforgiving when doing needleturn applique....I will have to some fancy quilting later on to disguise that fact!

I've just thought of something to work on for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge!....and I won't be breaking my "no new project" resolution!  I have been working sporadically on my Chapman Coverlet....well, not quite sporadically, make that rarely. So I will make 10 blocks per month....they are quick and so easy, they just measure 2.5" unfinished. Easy peasy.

I will be very happy to get back to my Chapman Coverlet. It will be a glorious quilt, I'm sure....if you like scrappy, and I do.

 Has anyone watched Bridgerton on Netflix? I finished it yesterday, and I find myself reading this post in the narrator's voice, who happens to be Julie Andrews. 

Well, I'd better go and get something accomplished...or not. It may be a lazy day today. I've actually dressed up a bit to usher out the old year in maybe I'll relax with an extra cup of coffee and my book. 

I am linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Can I Get A Whoop, Whoop?

Happy New Year everyone!

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Christmas balls and a special gift...

Looks like a good day to do a bit of extra slow stitching...dreary, rainy.

I've not done any applique for a while. I've been enjoying taking part in a knit-along hosted by knitting gurus, Arne and Carlos. 

It's an Advent project...knitting a Christmas ball every day from December 1st to the 24th. They knit up fairly quickly...I work on them during my morning coffee, and try to finish it off through the day at some point. 

Arne and Carlos do a short YouTube video every day to introduce the ball of the day, and share a story or two...usually relating to Norwegian or Swedish Christmas traditions. I usually knit along while watching their daily "Sit and knit for a bit" videos.  

I wish I had learned to knit the Norwegian way, it looks very efficient. I think I would have a hard time switching up my method after so many years of knitting the way that I do. I am gifting one of my son's some knitting needles and lovely yarn for Christmas so he can try his hand at knitting. I plan on teaching him....but I'll also suggest he try to start out using the Norwegian method. What is your preferred method???

Here are a few of my favourite Christmas far...

I'm quite disappointed in the white yarn I bought for these. The red and green are 100% wool...but there was no white in that particular brand. I was in a rush that day and picked up a white ball of yarn that had "Merino" in big bold letters on the label. After working with it a bit and not liking it I looked a bit closer at the label....10% merino wool, and 90% acrylic!! Lesson learned!

I will make more of these through the year from time to time but I will use some proper yarn that I actually have on backorder right now.

What I have enjoyed, also, with this project is the learning I have done along the way. For instance, the first batch of balls looked a bit 
"off" in my increases and decreases. I realised that I was doing it incorrectly, and actually learned a new-to-me way of increasing stitches. Nice!

I had such a nice surprise this week. I received a gift in the mail from Gail, a fellow can visit her HERE, The Cozy Quilter.

Gail had seen a picture I had posted on Instagram...

....and she says that the very next day she saw a pattern for a quilt block that reminded her of my picture. She decided to make it up and send it along to me as a surprise gift!

I love it!!!...

In these days of bad news on a ongoing basis, it sure makes one treasure the kindness that others show one another. Thanks again, Gail, xo. I think this "portrait of me from the knees down" (as you put it) will hang in my sewing room all year round!

I am linking up with Kathy for Slow Sunday Stitching. I think I'll sit back with an extra cup of coffee and see what everyone else is working on today. 

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Stitching and knitting...

It's been a while since I've posted....this is always such a busy time of year for longarm quilters!

I've also been out of touch due to a severe lack of sleep, but I think I've got this managed (I hope!).

Last time I posted that I needed to get two doll quilts done for Christmas. You can read about it HERE.

I ended up switching things up and taking a much easier route to getting these made up. I took the Naive Melody quilt that I had been working on and used it for the two doll quilts.

The doll quilts are completed and ready for wrapping.

I've also finished my Snowflake quilt, and it will be a Christmas gift also. 

My goal for the new year is to be motivated by my friend Terry....she decided not to start any new projects all these months of being stuck at home due to Covid....she's managed to get a lot of progress done on finishing up UFO's. Part of me is chuckling at myself at the thought of sticking to this....but I'll try.

I have got a few knitting projects planned for the new year, so they won't count as they are already in the queue! 

This month I've put my applique aside so that I can take part in a knit-along with knitting gurus, Arne and Carlos. They came up with a Christmas Advent KAL of their Christmas balls. Everyday they have a fun little YouTube video about each ball. 

Here are a couple of pictures of the balls I've knitted so far...

I knew I'd been doing something incorrect in my increasing and decreasing technique with the balls. The pictures I've seen on Instagram are much smoother. I did a bit of research and found out what I was doing the balls from here on out should be a little bit improved!

I always tell quilters that are just starting out and a bit dejected when comparing their work to seasoned quilters that they need to allow themselves to be beginners....we were all there at some point. So, that's how I look at the progress of my knitted Christmas balls...I've allowed myself to be a beginner...I won't discard the balls I've made so far, I will take note of my improvement instead. 

As a friend (SS) commented to me....isn't it fun to learn?....and, yes, it is!

Also, Arne and Carlos were correct...knitting these balls can be addictive! Lots of fun with a new Christmas ball pattern each day.

I'm pretty happy with my Christmas socks...

....but instead of wearing them I've hung them on the mantel and they look great!

I had thought to get a new ornament to remember 2020 by (but really, will we ever forget?). I'm glad I held off, as I received this ornament on Saturday (Dofasco gifts employees/retirees with a nutcracker each year)...

That's all for now. I am linking up with Kathy for Slow Sunday Stitching. I think I'll take a look at what every one is stitching on as I finish up the binding on my Snowflake quilt, and knit on today's Christmas ball. Also, thanks go to Gail, aka The Cozy Quilter, for giving me a friendly kick in the butt :)

Thursday, November 5, 2020

One Monthly Goal - November

I just have time for a quick post today to state my One Monthly Goal for November.

This is such a busy time as a longarmer...we're right smack-dab in the season of the Christmas rush as far as longarming goes! 

But I do have to make time for a goal this month. 

I have a 3yr-old granddaughter and thought it would be nice to buy her a baby doll for Christmas...complete with a doll quilt.

When I started looking for dolls, I found a set of fraternal twin dolls. My granddaughter happens to be a fraternal twin so I couldn't pass up on the dolls! And we know what that means....two doll quilts are needed!

I figured I'd use some orphan blocks so as to speed this project along, if I had any appropriate orphan blocks.

Well, of course I do! These 3.5" blocks are some of many that I made a couple of years ago for a sew-along called the 365 Challenge(?). I became disenchanted with my design choice and let this project go.

There are even more of these blocks, so lots to choose from.

I'll try to use a few of these fabrics that were recently gifted to me, they should work for sashing...

So my goal for November will be to have the two quilt tops completed...then they will be ready to finish off in December in time for Christmas. 

I am linking up with Elm Street Quilts for One Monthly Goal, November.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Slow Stitching

 So Hallowe'en is done for another year....Covid-style this time.

I'm not a big Hallowe'en-ie, and where I live, out in a rural setting, I never get trick-or-treaters...except this year...I had a few grandchildren stop by for their modified Hallowe'en...

We were also treated to a rare Hallowe'en Hunters' Blue Micro Moon...

I have finished my Snowflake quilt top, which was half of my monthly goal for October...I did not finish the other project, which was the handquilting on my Shimmer quilt. I did not put a single stitch into Shimmer at all!

I know there is an error in the quilt top....and I have rectified it as you'll see when I post the quilt once it's quilted. Sometimes I'll leave things as is, but in this case it was easy to fix it right then and there. 

I'll get this quilted at some point soon....originally thinking that I wanted to use it in my living space in December, but now a son of mine has expressed a liking for this one, so that's him done for Christmas! I love that my family appreciates my hobby!!

On to Sunday Stitching!...

I've been working on my A Curious Journey BOM, designed by Susan Smith. I really don't want this one to become a UFO!

It's a mystery quilt, I get monthly instructions as to what to do next.

We were told that we would need over 50 QSTs, and were advised to work on them as we go along so as to spread out the work-load. 

Well....I've attached one border of QSTs to my centre applique blocks to see how they were looking (because I had my doubts about my fabric choices)....

Hmmm...not a very clear picture, but I'm sure you can tell that my QST border is a hot mess! I figure that I'm doing so much work with the applique on this quilt that I can't just leave this pieced border as it is. Dammit!!

In the top left of the picture you can see two practice QST blocks using patterned fabric and background fabric...I think that's what I'll go with. Or a soft yellow instead of the background fabric?...what do you think???

I am loving the use of Tilda fabrics for this quilt...I think it's going to be a very pretty quilt.

For this quilt we also need 24 Windswept blocks. I've been working on these in between the regular blocks and my Christmas knitting.

Here are my Windswept blocks, so far...

Getting there!! I'll poke away at these a bit more today for my Slow Sunday Stitching.

And to leave you with an idea of a soup to warm you up now that we are experiencing cool, blustery Autumn days, here is a soup we made in the Instant Pot this week...

It's Oxtail Soup, and just took 45 minutes in the Instant Pot, plus 15 minutes to simmer the veggies in IP once the meat was cooked. This worked to not having the veggies turn to mush by cooking them with the meat.

 I have to say...I've never bought oxtails, but every time I see them in the grocery store I remember how much I liked them as a young girl. We will definitely be making this soup again...and again!

I am linking up with Kathy for Slow Sunday Stitching.

Friday, October 9, 2020

What the heck???

I've been sewing a bit here and there on my Snowflake quilt as it is my One Monthly Goal for October, to have the top completed.

It's a pretty easy pattern and is going together rather quickly. It's put together in panels of squares and HSTs...

 Here was the the first row of panels up on the design wall...

...and here are a few of that row's panels sewn far, so good...

Last year at a retreat I learned a method of taking all of the pieces of the panel to the sewing machine in one, nice organised pile to sew together. It was similar to what I've previously done, with a wonderful tweak. 

On to the second row of panels...

This is when I say, "What the heck???" (although I may have actually said something else, lol)

Something is just not right! How on earth did I do that???

I guess at some point in the sewing-together method my little pile of squares and HSTs got turned around somehow. It's too big a mistake to a date with the seam ripper is in the cards today.

Something new I wanted to try the other day was dyeing a skein of yarn.

I soaked the yarn in some water and a bit of vinegar like I saw on YouTube. I wanted to try the method using the little Kool-aid packets for dye.

I went into my small town where we do have 2 grocery Kool-aid to be found. I haven't looked for it for probably 2 decades, so I don't even know if you can buy it any more.

I looked for food dye....both stores don't carry it.

I was a little peeved because I had already started the process by soaking my yarn. I don't know how it came to me, but I decided to use some spices I have in the house...I remember the first time I did something with turmeric and had yellow hands for a couple of days! why not!

I used turmeric, dry mustard, paprika, and powdered bay leaf. Coincidentally I was cooking beets in the Instant Pot that day and saved some beet water to use also, which is what you see in this picture...

After the yarn was dry, I did find that I had food dye tucked way back in the corner of my baking cupboard, so I wet the yarn again and sprinkled a bit of the red dye randomly.

Here is my result, I'm quite happy with it. I'll let it dry even longer before I wind it into a feels dry, but I want to be sure...

I want to start knitting with it right away, but there are Christmas gifts that need to be knitted first.

I did do some knitting this week. I've had a pattern for Mermaid socks for a while now and finally had to try it. I finished the first sock this morning...

I really like the picot edge, and I like the stitch that is used. I'm really going to like the asymmetry of the pair of socks. 

I used a yarn by West Highland Spinners which I've never used before....I liked it so much that I've gone online and ordered some more!

I will share with you that this has been a particularly difficult week. I'm sure I'm not alone in this....feeling like it's a bit hard to cope after all these months of Covid. 

Yesterday I took some time to get out into nature for a nice long walk. Man, did that ever improve my mood! I encourage anyone who is feeling blue, weepy, anxious, to get some fresh really does work wonders. Even if it means just sitting outside on your front stoop. 

Mother Nature makes good medicine!

Today I am linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Can I Get a Whoop Whoop?

Thursday, October 1, 2020

One Monthly Goal - October

I think I have lofty goals for October....but why not try???

I will have two goals for October. The first one is to finish hand-quilting my Shimmer quilt. 

I was poking along quite nicely on this quilt pre-Covid, as I had hoped to have it done in time for the Norfolk County Fair....but when that got cancelled this quilt was quietly forgotten.

I've picked it up again this past month and have made some good progress...and now I just want to make it a One Monthly Goal so it can be done.

 I've been quilting with my favourite thread, YLI, in Coral. I think I was always one to use white or cream thread back in the day. About 15 years ago I attended a lovely quilt display at a local historical house, Cottonwood Mansion. I was surprised to see some of the vintage quilts quilted in bold-coloured thread....dark brown and red are what I specifically remember. Those quilts really made an impact on me, and I think I've used colourful threads ever since.

I've also been using an air-erasable marker to mark the quilting it! The only problem is that the more humidity is in the air, the quicker the mark disappears! At this time of year the mark disappears almost before I can get the motif quilted. When I use the same marker in the dry air of Winter, the mark may last the whole day.

So that's my first have this quilted and bound by the end of October.

I'm not sure about accomplishing my second goal, as I do seem to have more time to spend on hand-work than piecing by machine. 

I'm just starting a Snowflake quilt, using the fabrics I won during last month's One Monthly Goal.

I didn't make a photo-copy of the first page of the pattern, but this picture may give you an idea of the quilt...

Mine will be a scrappy version, not the 4-colour version. I did take a bit of a sew-therapy afternoon to get a start on this quilt.

Here is the first row of blocks laid out on the design wall...

....and I couldn't resist sewing a few blocks together. They went together surprisingly quickly...

I am linking up with Elm Street Quilts for One Monthly Goal. Hopefully I can reach my lofty goals for October. It would be great to have the Snowflake quilt ready for use in December!

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

One Monthly Goal for September - Completed!

 There's just time for a quick post today as I have to get back to work on a custom quilt on the longarm. I only have about two hours work left to go on it, I think.

Here is a picture of when the quilting first started...

....I love when I get the opportunity to sew that motif!

And I love when a quilt calls for a bit of curved cross-hatching...

I've actually just popped in to say that I have completed my One Monthly Goal for September, which was to finish the top of my Farm Girl Vintage quilt.

It was started quite a while back, and I'm so glad to have it finished. I still love the look of the quilt. I'll enjoy quilting it, but that will have to wait until January.

A special shout-out goes to my friend, Karen Z, for designing the Canadian flag block to replace the American flag that was part of the original pattern.

Last year for Christmas I received the pattern book for Farm Girl Vintage I can look forward to starting that one! I think I'll make a goal of two blocks per month. I seem to do well with an agenda of some sort.

I was excited to learn last month that I won the prize for One Monthly Goal over at Elm Street Quilts blog. She hosts the OMG every month. If someone posts their goal at the beginning of the month, and then posts that they did indeed complete that goal, the person has a chance to win a gift certificate to Fat Quarter Shop.

Last month, that person was me! I ended up choosing a fat quarter bundle to use in an upcoming Snowflake quilt. You'll read more about that in an upcoming post!

Here is the fabric I chose, Polar Magic by Lemonni...

That's it for now....back to work for me!

I am linking up with Elm Street Quilts for One Monthly Goal Finishes - September.