Friday, January 31, 2014


I couldn't resist pulling out my bin of pink scraps and getting started on the February color for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.

I'm not sure how far they will stretch this month because I used up a bunch of pink scraps in the background of my little Double Dare quilt last month.

Making made fabric squares has been my go-to method for cleaning out the mostly too small scraps.  I have always loved scrappy backgrounds in quilts, but only in the last year or so considered the possibility of making scrappy background "fabric."

I found enough pinks to make another large 10 by 15 inch oak leaf block.  Here are pink and blue together.  The slow nature of making one block each month gives me a lot of time to think about how I will use them in a quilt at the end of the year. I already have some ideas ...

I hated the photo I took after dark and posted last night and have replaced it with something with a pink leaf that looks more pink than red (it's still more pink in real life than it appears on my screen ... but this is better).

I'll be joining the RSC Scrap Happy Saturday link tomorrow.

Speaking of Pink, here's a sunrise from earlier this week. 

New Projects in January

2014 NewFO Challenge It seems that January has just flown by, doesn't it?   Still, I managed to start a few new projects, continue others and even finish a couple.

I'm joining the January NewFO Linky party on Barbara's Cat Patches blog and fessing up to all the NEW projects started this month.

For fun, I started (and FINISHED!) a little quilt which celebrates my chosen word for the year, Dare.

I rejoined Angela's Rainbow Scrap Challenge, making blue blocks for a continuing project and for a really old (golden oldie) project that I pulled out and revived, but, somehow, couldn't resist starting a new ongoing project (OK, actually TWO)  and made this large (10 by 15 inches) scrappy oak leaf block. I'll be making at least one of these in each of the designated monthly colors.

You can find my pattern for the oak leaf blocks (6 by 9 inches) on the Free Quilt Block Patterns page.  The pattern includes both scrappy and plain versions of the block.

I also used blue scraps and made a start on a new original quilt design.

It is the first in a series of quilt ideas I have on the topic of Facing 60 later this year.

I can't share the center I made for the Cotton Robin even though it was one of my first new projects in January.   I also finished a small quilt for Another Little Quilt Swap that I have to keep secret a while longer ... though you can probably guess which of the 23 quilts posted so far is mine.

Join me in the Mod Mod Quilt Along
The Mod-Mod Quilt-Along kicked off in January and I started two quilts,  a throw that will be made from scraps as another Rainbow Scraps Challenge project and a bed-size quilt from a more limited color palette.

Here are my Double Chevron Blocks for both projects, for January:


The completion of the hand pieced blocks (and finishing the top!) left me needing a new handwork project, and so I started some redwork (which auto-correct always converts to rework ... humble, grumble).

So far, it's been enjoyable and also very very slow ... I suspect it will keep my hands busy while I watch TV through the Olympics next month.

In January, I met a delightful group of modern quilters in Las Vegas, New Mexico.  They asked if I could come teach a workshop and I suggested improv curves and the Silly String blocks we made for the Block Lotto a couple years ago ...and then I realized I had no sample project and so I made one.

I plan to quilt this later tonight ... so maybe it will be a second NewFO that is started ... and finished. Yay! 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

January's Lovely Finish

Sometimes, less is more.

Sometimes, several failed attempts will lead you to the answer.   And that's how it was when I was auditioning borders for this quilt.

Here's the first attempt.  I didn't have to go any further before it seemed clear to me it would pull too much attention away from the main dish–the hand pieced sunflower blocks.

After trying several others, I realized that less is more and that I liked the quilt with it's narrow checkerboard, just as it is.

To complete this top, I had to draft a block pattern for the one I couldn't find when I pulled out this Block of the Month from 2010, make those blocks, bring some order to this visual cacophony of color and cats in deciding upon an arrangement, and decide on borders and make them.

I'm linking to the Lovely Finishes party ... and thinking about what to choose for a February finish.

To make Melissa and Shanna super happy, my January goal-setting post is here.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Designing on the Wall

For those who wondered if I am still arranging and re-arranging those brightly colored hand-pieced sunflower-style blocks on my design wall ... after moving them around (a lot) I did sew them together a week ago or so.

This weekend, I added the inner border blocks, by trial and error (the rejects are out of frame of the photo). I still need three more 4-patch corners before I move onto my plan for the outer border.

Grace Hopper, the photo-bombing cat, had just jumped in my chair to prevent me from sitting until I took care of something for her.  I think she found the little dot of light my camera produced more interesting than the quilt I was trying to photograph.

Look closely and you can see the paper sketch in the upper right corner.

After seeing a product placement post on someone's blog for triangles on a roll, I immediately had two thoughts:
  1. It would be a great way to make the spiky border I envisioned.
  2. The commercial product would most likely not be available in the size I needed, nor would I be likely to find it in Santa Fe. 
So, I drew my own, perfectly proportioned for my quilt ... now all I have to do is print a bunch of foundations, glue-stick them together to create segments for each side and get busy paper piecing the border. 

I don't know if this will be finished in time to be officially counted as a Lovely Finish this month, but I'm happy enough with the progress, that, either way, it will truly be lovely to me.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

(Very) Slow Stitch Sunday

Last Sunday evening, I started a little redwork project.

I have picked it up a few times this week while watching TV ... but it really is going more slowly than I imagined.

Maybe it's a good thing–I'll have something waiting for me to pick up and stitch for a while ... and this is the first of two pieces.

The second one waits quietly, rolled up in the basket, and reminds me that I have a long way to go with this particular piece of stitching.

That's what I'll be slow stitching later tonight as I watch TV ... and  maybe through the Olympics. Click over to Kathy's blog to see what others are working on today for Slow Sunday Stitching.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Grow My Blog Party and Friday Night Sew-In Results

2 Bags Full
If you have found my blog via the Grow Your Blog 2014 party, welcome to Sophie Junction.

My name is Sophie and I blog a lot about quilting, fairly often about food–mostly vegan and vegetarian recipes I like, sometimes about knitting–the impulse to knit comes and goes for me, occasionally about my life in Santa Fe, New Mexico and pretty rarely about anything else.

And then there's my two cats: two irresistable creatures that find their way onto these posts from time to time. Here they are helping me finish up a flannel quilt I made at the end of last year.

As a quilter, I have found a wonderful group of quilting friends in the blogiverse and I love participating in those virtual group activities, like the monthly Friday Night Sew-in.  January's FNSI was last night and here's what I made. 

This 30 inch quilt top was made using my directions from another online quilting group activity that is near and dear to me, the Block Lotto.  We made blocks like these–which I called Silly String–in July of 2012.  At the time I had recently moved to Santa Fe and was living in an incredibly small, adobe casita.  I always wanted to play more with the pattern, but it wasn't the time or place.  Yesterday I decided to take a break from the projects on my list and just play.  This is the result.

I have been leading the monthly Block Lotto since January 2002.  Along the way I have created a lot of free Quilt block patterns. The latest can be found on the Free Quilt Block Patterns page on this blog.  Unfortunately, what was once a much longer list was accidentally deleted–maybe by me, probably by Blogger, grumble, grumble.  All the patterns are also linked on the Lotto Block Index pages on the Block Lotto site.

Join me on

This year, I have also challenged my friends and anyone who would like to play along to make a quilt, beginning with a tea towel. It's not too late to jump in–you can find all the details on this page:

Tea Towel Challenge 2014

Join me for the Tea Towel Challenge 2014

Like many, I have started many new projects already in 2014, including a series of art quilts on the somewhat daunting-to-me idea that I will become 60 years old later this year. To end this little post, here's the start of one of them. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday Night Sew In

I need a day off from myself, from the lists and goals ... just to play with fabric. That's how I'll be spending my Friday Night Sew In.

To start, I have pulled these fabrics.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Tick Tock - the Deadline Clock is Ticking

Have you entered the giveaway for Elizabeth's beautiful hand-dyed fabrics on the Block Lotto?

You still have time.  The deadline is Saturday morning.

Like the Block Lotto and Win Hand-Dyed Fabrics

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Scrappy Blue Works in Progress

So, maybe it wasn't so crazy to put all those blue projects for the January rainbow scraps project up on the design wall.  They called to me to work on them and some progress has been made.

I did the math and figured out that if I make between 6 and 8 of the Briar Patch paper pieced blocks each month, I'll use all the foundations in the pattern by the end of the year.  Here are the 6 I made this week, along with the 4 blocks I made in the Judy Niemeyer workshop long long ago.  (I blogged more about the details of this paper-foundation pattern here).

I also spent some time cutting lots (and lots) of little blue triangles ... well, 250 of them anyway.  When I made the first set of blue broken dishes blocks two years ago, I cut them with a ruler and mat ... then used the project to justify buying a Go Baby.  With the die cutter, the experience is different, but still tedious.  But also worth it, because now I have all the scrappy blue broken dishes I need for my plan for them.  Yay!

I wondered if I would be able to see the differences between the fabrics from my scrap bin 2 years ago and those I used this week. I can see some subtle shifts in the fabrics I used, but they all play together nicely.

Another interesting thing happened as a result of hanging a project on the design wall.  I decided that the abstracted feather blocks don't need scrappy blue sashing ... something else would work better.  So I've taken them down and packed them away for now.

Linking with WIP Wednesday on Thursday on Freshly Pieced, Esther's WOW (Wips on Wednesday) and Angela's Scraphappy Saturday.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Scrappy Blue Design Wall

I knew if I put all this bits and pieces together on the wall,  I'd end up laughing at myself, thinking about all the ways I imagined I'd use blue scraps this month for the rainbow challenge and how my goals were crazy ambitious for me.  But I couldn't resist doing it anyway.

From the top (left):

Scrappy Oak Leaf - this is the scrappy version of one of last year's lotto blocks (pattern is on the Block Patterns page).  This block is 10 x 15 inches.  I plan to make one or two each month.

Mod-Mod QAL blocks - The blue double chevron blocks were made when I decided to make a scrappy rainbow version of the quilt using the rainbow scrap challenge color of the month.  The Double Chevron block pattern is also on the Block Patterns page).

I made the black and white abstracted feather blocks last summer–now you can see that my oak leaf block pattern for the starting point for those. My plan for this month is to make some pieced scrappy washings for these and make a pair of pillow covers.

The rest I've talked about before.  The letters are part of a quilt design (that I don't anticipate finishing this month); the broken dishes star blocks are part of an ongoing rainbow scraps project (I need 8 more blue ones); and the paper pieced blocks I'm making without a plan and will make as many as I can from the scraps I have.

This afternoon, I'll be cutting and sorting triangles for the broken dishes blocks and preparing some rework for stitching tonight during Downton Abbey.

Updated on Monday to add the link to Design Wall Monday.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Q1 Finish Along Goals

I love the idea of the Finish-Along on The Little Thistle, but dragged my feet about declaring myself until the very last possible moment.

Here's my list:

1.  The red and white sampler from last year's Lotto Block patterns.  I honestly thought I would be able to finish it by the end of the last year ... that didn't happen and January brought with it lots of new projects and project idea.  Making it one of my goals will get it done (I hope).  There's lots of white space for some free motion quilting.

2.  Almost a year ago, I pushed this old project to a finished top.  Now it's time to quilt it.  It's a Whole Lotta Love–made from blocks I won on the Block Lotto in 2009.

3. I haven't progressed much further than gathering fabrics for my Tea Towel Challenge quilt, but I want to finish it by the end of March.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Mod-Mod Quilt-Along Begins Today

Do quilters in the blogiverse NEED another Quilt-a-Long?  Probably not.  
But because I know some quilters like to follow-along with the Block Lotto, but don't necessarily want to make blocks in colors of my choosing or participate in the lotto drawing, I designed a series of quilts made from this year's lotto blocks–in 6 sizes, from a 42 inch square to a 105 inch square king size bed quilt. Anyone can sample the block patterns for the Block Lotto this year and a make a quilt, as small or large as they like.
FYI for the block lotto community, this is a repost of information I have already shared there–intended for my followers here who might like to join along.  
After a self-indulgent year of mostly figurative blocks for the Block Lotto in 2013,  this year we’ll be making blocks with a strong geometric feel in three (finished) sizes:
7 inch square
7 by 14 inch rectangle
14 inch square
I promised a change for the lotto blocks this year and guaranteed no basket blocks, nor houses, nor dogs,  nor cats, nor hearts.  One thing will remain the same, though.  As always, the lotto block patterns will be made using a variety of techniques, perhaps presenting an opportunity to try something new or perfect a technique that you haven’t used much.
These black boxes show the relative sizes of the blocks we’ll be making, they look something like this.

Looking at these shapes, you might start thinking, as I did, how they could easily be combined into 21-inch square units in a number of ways.  All three sizes could combine in a layout like this (including January’s Double Chevron):
If you start thinking about multiples of 21-inch square modules, like I have, you can see how you could build sampler quilts in a range of sizes:
  • Small (42-inch square) – 4 modules arranged 2-by-2
  • Crib (42 by 63-inch rectangle)  - 6 modules arranged 2 (wide) by 3 (high)
  • Throw (63 inch square) – 9 modules arranged 3-by-3
  • Twin (63 by 84-inch rectangle) – 12 modules arranged 3 (wide) by 4 (high)
  • Full/Queen (84-inch square) – 16 modules arranged 4 by 4
  • King (105 inch square) – 25 modules arranged  5 by 5

With these ideas in mind, I have created a random-ish layout using this year’s blocks in a straight setting with no sashing or borders, using the lotto blocks to build 21-inch square modules.
Because of the MODular approach and the MODern look of our geometric blocks this year, I’m calling this effort the Mod-Mod Quilt-along.
Each month, mid-month, I’ll tell you how many of the current month’s block you’ll need to make each of the above quilt sizes and show you where they will appear in your quilt.
I plan to make two quilts and sharing my progress:
  • A rainbow-colored throw using the color of the month from the rainbow scrap challenge (a sort of mystery quilt for me)
  • A full/queen using a more controlled color palette with a common white-on-white (WOW) background

Fabric Estimates

If you are using a common background fabric, here’s my generous suggestion for how much you’ll need (keep in mind that I haven’t written all the block patterns yet):
  • Small (42-inch square) – 1 1/2 yards
  • Crib (42 by 63-inch rectangle)  - 2 1/4 yards
  • Throw (63 inch square) –3 1/4 yards
  • Twin (63 by 84-inch rectangle) – 4 1/2 yards
  • Full/Queen (84-inch square) – 6 yards
  • King (105 inch square) – 9 1/4 yards

January’s Double Chevron Blocks

You can download the Double Chevron Block Pattern from my Free Block Patterns page.

Here are the blocks I've made for my Throw (made as part of the rainbow scrap challenge).

Here’s how many of these blocks you’ll need this month, for each of the 6 quilts:

Double Chevron Blocks123468

Small Sampler


If you are making the small sampler quilt, you’ll make one Double chevron block for it. Your quilt layout looks like this (so far–these will get more interesting in future months)



The Crib size quilt include 2 Double Chevron blocks, in the 6-module layout on the left.


In the square Throw, three modules are added to the layout and one more Double Chevron block for a total of 3 needed for this quilt.
As you can probably begin to see, these modules (and quilt layouts) are nested.  The smallest size becomes part of the crib size, which is part of the throw, which is part of the twin size, which is part of the full/queen size, which is nested within the king size.  This means you can start small and decide to make a bigger quilt or … start out super ambitious and decide to make a smaller one.



For the Twin size, you’ll need 4 Double Chevron blocks.
Here’s where they will be in that quilt, constructed from 12 modules.


You’ll need 2 more Double Chevrons–a total of 6–for the Full/Queen quilt.  Here are the 16 modules for that quilt.


And for the super-ambitious, make 8 Double Chevron blocks.  Here’s the 25 modules for that 105-inch square quilt.

The Badge

If you would like to add the badge at the top of this post to your blog, here's the HTML code you need:

This help post on the Block Lotto will step you through how you add a badge to your blog, if you need a reminder.

If there is interest in playing along with me and make a sampler of some size of your own, I'll set up ways for us to share: Flickr group, link parties, etc.  Let me know.

On the Design Wall with a Different Point of View

I often say (and blog) that one of the things I love about quilting is that there is rarely one right answer or only one path when making quilts.  I was reminded of how true that is for me this morning, when I read Cynthia's second installment of her Scrap-A-Pallooza series.

Specifically when she is arranging her scrap blocks on the design wall, she says,
I find I am most successful if I do this step quickly and try not to over think it.
I guess that makes me an over-thinker, because I find I am most successful, if I do this step SLOWLY and play with the blocks over the course of a day or a few days.   Last night I finished the last two of the hand-pieced blocks.

This morning I added them to the rest of the blocks on the design wall, where each triplet of blocks was kept together, but no real thought had been given (yet) to how they would be arranged in the quilt.

And then I started arranging them. I prefer asymmetry, but my first, quick effort was only slightly asymmetric.

Because it was nearly symmetric, I rearranged the blocks to create a more traditional feeling, symmetric arrangement. I knew it would not be "me," but I wanted to see how I felt about it anyway.

I will spare you all the future revisions that happen on my design wall before these blocks are finally assembled, but for me, it always seems to be a good thing to leave them on the wall, within sight, but work on something else while I consider the color and value placement, the orientation of the individual blocks (with these, the possibilities seem endless), and how the quilt looks as the light changes over the course of the day.  I really like walking into my studio just after dawn when I can see whatever's there in low light and "see" value more than color.

I'll also be (re) thinking about my initial plan to mix in some pieced rectangles and what this quilt needs in terms of border (or whether it needs one at all).  I'll definitely be sleeping on it, too, and giving my subconscious a shot at solving the problem that is this quilt's design.

Are you a speed arranger like Cynthia or is it a slow and considered task for you, like me?

I'm joining the Linkys for Esther's WOW and WIP Wednesday on Freshly Pieced.

FYI, I have posted the first installment of the Mod-Mod Quilt-Along.   If a low key, year-long QAL appeals, be sure to check it out.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

You Asked–Here Are My Answers

People here (and on Flickr) were curious to see the block(s) made from the drawing I posted on Sunday.  Here's my first finished block.

After making the templates and cutting fabrics for two blocks, I saw how two of the smallest pieces could be combined into one. 

On Monday I made the new template, cut more fabrics, as well as fabrics for a third block and Slow Stitch Sunday grew into Slow Stitch Monday night.

These blocks are 7-1/2 inches (finished size).  I have made 3 each of 12 patterns.  I drafted the last one because somehow I never received it and my attempts to reach out to the quilter who organized this quilt-along in 2010 failed.

The process of drafting the block by hand was fun.  Maybe later this year, if anyone is interested, I'll put together a tutorial for anyone who would like to give it a try.

I have left the decision of the color of the outside of the last two blocks until I have pulled out all the completed blocks and put them on the design wall to see what color/fabric will work best in the context of the whole quilt. (I couldn't make myself wait on the first one–it really just had to be red).

If you are looking for method in my brightly color madness, the rule I created for myself when choosing fabrics for these blocks was that they all contained the Laurel Burch fabric and a black and white print.  Every block also contains at least one warm and one cool color.   I challenged myself to work with a lot of bright colors in this project.

Another mystery solved:

It is a sentiment that I thought women of a certain age (like me) or fans of Nora Ephrom–whose book, Sometimes I feel Bad About My Neck and Other Thoughts on Being a Woman, inspired this idea–would recognize.

Someone asked why I was making all the e's the same size when I clearly had different sized letters.  Now that they've been arranged and sewn into words and phrases, you can see that the two different sizes are used in different words.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Preparing for TV stitching

This afternoon, I drafted a block for the one I was missing and made templates so I could choose and cut fabrics and be ready to stitch tonight.


Whether it's Downton Abbey or the Golden Globes, I'll be ready to enjoy TV and Slow Stitch Sunday

Friday, January 10, 2014

Blue Scrappy Word Scramble

I've been using blue scraps to make pieced letters.  Can you guess what I'm going to say with these?

Each letter is pieced from strips and squares.  Once I decide how to make one of the letters, I make as  many more as I need using the same measurements.

1. How it starts, 2. completed letter e, 3. four e's

I'm linking up with Angela's Scrap Happy Saturday.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Fun Dialect Quiz

A tumbleweed like me couldn't resist taking this dialect quiz–would it show where I was from and/or the influences of other places I have lived?

How Y'all Youse and You Guys Talk

My results weren't completely wrong. Of the three cities with which had the closest dialect match, I have visited one of them, which happens to be in the state where I grew up :-)

I can see the influences of where I have lived, too, around the Bay Area, the Southwest and New England.

I think I really need to visit Alaska now, to see if I actually do sound like a native there.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Is Scrap Quilting Trending?

I notice a lot of quilters talking about the how-to's of scrap quilting. Scrap quilts were my first love and I think there's a lot to be learned from looking at and making them, so this makes me happy.

On the Patchwork Times, Judy is leading a scrap quilting challenge by providing a monthly block pattern, sharing tips and her own experience and results.

Cynthia is sharing the nut and bolts of how she approaches scrap quilting on her blog with the great name, Quilting is More Fun than Housework.

All this scrap quilt-iness in the atmosphere has me pulling out my first and still one of my favorite quilting books, Scrap Quilts, The Art of Making Do, by Roberta Horton.  I grabbed this image from Amazon where I noticed there is now a kindle version of the book for $9.99 today.

One of the things you naturally learn when making scrap quilts, is the value of VALUE. As they say, value is what allows the COLORS to shine.  If you have every told me that you loved the colors in one of my projects, I'm sure I responded with something along the lines of, "it's really about the values."

Value might not matter so much if you're making blocks like this one, where scrappy blues are combined with black and white (as the darkest and lightest fabrics) to define the block pattern.

But if you are making something like the monochromatic broken dishes blocks below, the values are critical for you to see the star points in the design.

I saw a tip in a on-line class on The Quilt Show site that I recently put into use to build a tool for seeing value–I won a TQS membership in a blog give-away during my recent lucky streak (thanks again Laura!)

In Lea McComas' Portrait class, she recommends going to a home improvement store and picking up paint color cards to create your own gray-scale reference.

I started picking up black/gray/white cards, but then thought, since I am planning to use blues for my project (and more blues for the Rainbow Scraps Challenge this month), why not make a blue-scale instead of a gray scale?

I knew I was going to need 6 different values for my project, so chose 6 paint cards.  These are Martha Stewart colors.

The one on the left are the actual color cards.  Because the blues I chose weren't all the same hue–the fourth one especially is the clunker–I converted the image to black and white to double-check that the values were correct.

My work-in-progress for today is selecting blue scraps and sorting them into one of 6 values. The paint color cards makes it so much easier/quicker to sort scraps definitively into a number of values.

I'm joining Esther's WOW (WIPs on Wednesday) and WIP Wednesday on Freshly Pieced.

I'd LOVE to share my round robin center for the Cotton Robin (which really is my current WIP), but it's a secret ... and going into the mail to Julie today. There is still time to participate if you're interested.  I keep playing because I love the challenge of adding to or quilting these little group quilts.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Viva Las Vegas!

Yesterday, I travelled to Las Vegas. No. Not that one.

This one. Las Vegas, NEW MEXICO.

Neither of these images are mine. The bottom one is a painting of Las Vegas, New Mexico by David Lee Thompson.

I arrived too late to take photos of the historic plaza.  But early enough for the meeting of the Chicken River Modern Quilt Guild to do a little shopping at ThreadBare–a sweet fabric and yarn store where the meetings are held.

We enjoyed a tasty potluck and chat.  It's been a while since I have been face-to-face with quilters and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting everyone (and probably talked too much ...)

Round robin projects were rotated and, of course, as whenever quilters meet, there was some show and tell.  This is Lin's quilt, made from a set of randomly pieced squares.  I was awed by those perfectly straight and square stripes.

It wasn't sure what food to bring to a group of people I have never met.  

I decided to make something vegan, gluten and corn-free to avoid as many food allergies/aversions as possible.  The trip was more than an hour, so something cold seemed to make sense.

Even though tomatoes in January aren't always wonderful, I've been craving them, so I made Moroccan Lentil Salad.  This recipe is a little like stone soup because although there are lentils in there, there's so much more of everything else: hot and sweet green peppers, red and yellow peppers, green onions, chickpeas, cilantro and tomatoes–I halved a handful of cherry tomatoes and while they didn't taste like the fresh, ripe tomatoes of summer, they were OK. 

Monday, January 06, 2014

Design Walls and the 2014 Block Lotto

It's no surprise that today there are lotto blocks on my design wall, along with the blocks I am making as part of the Rainbow Scrap Challenge this year.

I think every quilter who has one knows the value of a design wall.  Of course the rest of the world has discovered it's usefulness, too. I recently read, Up on the wall: How Working Walls Unlock Creative Insight.  I enjoyed the article and liked seeing all the examples of "design walls" used across industries and tasks. The article starts by saying:
Research wall, design wall, research board, ideation wall, inspiration board, moodboard, pinboard — Working walls are known by countless names. Underlying them all is a single idea: that physically pinning our sources of inspiration and work in progress, and surrounding ourselves with them, can help us to rearrange concepts and unlock breakthrough insights.
If you are thinking of putting up a design wall and aren't sure of the value, perhaps this article will sway you. It made me smile because of how I already know most of this because I am a quilter.

But back to my design wall ... if you are curious about the paper pieced scrap blocks on the left, I blogged about them yesterday. I like leaving them up there to jiggle my subconscious to think about setting ideas and to remind me to make more.

The six double chevron blocks are the January choice for the block lotto.  There are several ways to make chevron or zig-zag quilts. I decided upon this one, using half-square triangle units and sharing the 8-at-once method for making them–perfect for this block because you need 8 units to make a block.

These blocks are 7 by 14-inches (finished size).  You can find the print friendly directions: Double Chevron Block Pattern.

For the Block Lotto, we're making them in purple, chocolate or light-to-medium gray, combined with white.  This color combination happened when I was playing with colored pencils and paper out and was designing the blocks for this year's Block Lotto.  I happened to use a dark brown, light gray and purple pencil to color in three blocks (though not this particular one) and liked it.

If you like it and want to make blocks for the lotto this month, you'll find the guidelines here:

2014 Begins with Double Chevrons

It's funny how it's so easy for me to come up with the blocks we use for the Block Lotto and much more challenging to pick new/interesting color combinations.  If you have great color ideas, be sure to check out the Block Lotto–I'm asking for help with color ideas (and something else) and there will be a very colorful giveaway.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

It was a dark and scrappy (Saturday) night

When I pulled out my scrap bins to make Double Dare, I thought about using blue, since it's the designated color for January in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, but it just didn't want to be blue ...

So last night, I pulled out my blue scraps and one of my golden oldie projects and got started.   Along with making more of my scrappy broken dishes star blocks, I plan to make some of these this year. 

The pattern is a paper foundation piecing pattern from Judy Niemeyer called Briar Patch.

Eight or nine years ago, I  belonged to the Greater Ann Arbor (Michigan) Quilt Guild and did a half-day workshop with Judy as part of what they used to call Quilt University–their long weekend of workshops held on alternating years with their quilt show.  The pattern is designed for beginner foundation piecers.  I wasn't a beginner, but since I was mostly self-taught, I thought I could benefit from all the tips she promised to provide.  She delivered and I learned.

I thought it would be a good scrap/stash-busting project at the time and showed up with some red uglies and black and white prints from my stash. Everyone else in the workshop came with beautiful batiks like those Judy uses in her quilts.  I was definitely the one not like the others that day.   We worked our way through her process and made a couple blocks that day.  Here are the (very) old blocks alongside last night's effort.

I promptly tucked pattern, templates and some fabrics away and forgot it.  As part of reorganizing at the end of the year, I pulled it out and thought it would be a good match for the Rainbow scraps challenge.  The individual blocks are 6 inches.  The pattern contains enough printed foundations for 80 of them for a 66 by 78-inch quilt.

I'm joining Angela's link party for the First Scrap-Happy Saturday of 2014

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Tea Towel Challenge - An Update

I've started looking in my stash for fabrics for my Tea Towel Challenge quilt.  Here are the candidates I've found so far.

I've asked everyone to check in this month with their tea towel/fabric choices.  Despite my love for my growing tea towel collection, I'm sticking with my first acquisition.   I was a little surprised by the colors when I saw them in person and didn't think I'd have anything like that in my stash ... but clearly I did.

If you've blogged about your choice of tea towel or fabrics you will be using, please add your link below.  You can also link to a photo from Flickr or other photo-sharing site.  If you don't have a blog, but would like a place to blog about your Tea Towel challenge quilt, let me know and I'll set you up on the Sophie's Friends blog.

Words, Challenges and Resolutions

I confess that I'm not one for making resolutions or long lists and schedules of quilt projects.  That's not to say I don't think about the quilts I'd like to finish (or start). Or that I don't take the opportunity each year to reflect, look back and forward.

I do like the practice of choosing a word, a touchstone that reflects intention. On the 15 Minutes of Play blog, we're making little quilts to express that word.  This is the one I made yesterday.

I recently received a spool of some shiny Madeira rayon thread from Frieda Anderson as part of a giveaway on her site.  Thanks again, Frieda!  It seemed the perfect choice for the spirals, petals and loopy squiggles I doodled over the pink background of made fabric. I then added some white leafy vines in the black and white fabrics.

Look closely and you might see my first failed attempt at piecing "dare" which was later added as part of the background.  That's why I called this little 15 inch square quilt, Double Dare.

Why dare?  The free dictionary website provides this definition:

dare (dɛə)
1. (tr) to challenge (a person to do something) as proof of courage
2. (can take an infinitive with or without to) to be courageous enough to try (to do something): she dares to dress differently from the others; you wouldn't dare!.
3. (tr) to oppose without fear; defy
4. I dare say I daresay
a. (it is) quite possible (that)
b. probably: used as sentence substitute
5. a challenge to do something as proof of courage
6. something done in response to such a challenge

[Old English durran; related to Old High German turran to venture]

In some ways, I am still very much a quilting scaredy cat.  I hope this little quilt reminds me to challenge myself to be courageous in quilting and in life, to push myself to enter quilts in shows–something I have not yet done–and to put myself out there and face possible rejection in other ways. 

I asked the Block Lotto community to blog about quilting goals.  This is my post for the link party there. 

I am also joining Leah's FMQ project link up

Thursday, January 02, 2014

January Goal for a Lovely Finish

I'm very happy that Melissa and Shanna have decided to continue A Lovely Year of Finishes for another year.  I love this challenge because:
A Lovely Year of Finishes
  • I only have to commit to one goal at a time., not a laundry list of projects–it's a personal challenge and not a competition.
  • I choose my own goal.
  • Projects can be new, on-going or a golden oldie UFO–I still have too many of those.
  • Even when I fail to meet the monthly goal, I make progress.

My goal for January is to complete the hand-pieced blocks and figure out what to do with them, design wise, to finish a top from these 2010 Quilt-along blocks.

I made some progress hand-piecing the rest of the blocks last year, but stalled when I realized I was missing one of the block patterns. I tried and failed to contact the organizer, then decided I could draft my own pattern. Sometimes I am such a scaredy cat and that fear can be paralyzing.

This month, I'll "feel the fear and do it anyway." Wish me luck.

I'm adding this post to the Goal Setting party.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

2014 is here ... now what?

It feels like 2014 will be wonderful. Maybe it's because the sun is shining brightly and people are out and about in shirt sleeves or light jackets.  I have so many ideas rattling around in my head, that though I planned to blog something today, I'm not sure where to start.  So, how about a New Year's Day brain dump?

2014 arrived as I was stitching down the binding of my first finish of the year–a small quilt for Kate's Another Small Quilt Swap.

This is the eighth round of the swap–I always want to participate but never managed it, so this time, I was determined to get a little quilt made.  I''ll be able to share in a couple months when the swap is over and all the quilts have landed in their new homes. In the meantime, I'll be wondering if anyone will like it as much as I do ;-)

The deadline to send photos of your completed little quilt is January 20 has been extended to February 3, so there's still time to join me.  Complete details can be found on the Another Little Quilt Swap blog.

Today on her blog, Quilts and Dogs, Glen mentioned on her blog her New Years food tradition of
... black eyed peas for prosperity, ham for health and cabbage for money in the new year.

My own tradition is less specific, but also includes black eyed peas and greens.  I had  planned to make my usual vegetarian Hoppin' John ... then something on the Homesick Texan's blog caught my eye.

It will be New Year's Day Migas with Black-Eyed Pea Salsa and Bacon for lunch for me today.
(photo from the Homesick Texan blog)

The Block Lotto has kicked off another year.  This year the block designs are mostly geometric shapes, in three sizes: 7-inch squares, 14-inch squares, and 7 x 14 inch rectangles like January's Double Chevron blocks.

A week or so ago, I accidentally blew away my block patterns page–or was it Blogger's fault? What happened still isn't clear, but when I re-build it, the block pattern for this Double Chevron block will be added.  (In the meantime, you can find it on the Block Lotto site).

Along with this year's Block Lotto patterns, I'll be sharing directions for using them in a quilt for anyone who would like to try the blocks and play along (whether they are part of the Block Lotto or not). I'll be starting with this set of fabrics, recently won in a Blog Giveaway, for my quilt, and adding to it from my stash.

The  Blogiverse is filled with offers of Quilt-Alongs and I am reticent to suggest another, but ... details for the Mod-Mod (Modern Modular) Quilt-Along will be published mid-month each month in 2014. There will be options for making something as small as a 42-inch square or as large as a king-sized 105 inch square (with other sizes in between).

I am not one to make a list of resolutions, but I like the idea of choosing a word as a touchpoint for the year. and have chosen one: Dare. I also have challenged (dared?) myself with a specific quilt-related goal. More on that later.

It isn't just the beginning of the year, it's the beginning of a month and time to declare goals for the first month of another year of Lovely Finishes and the NewFO challenge. This year I really want to re-visit some of my golden oldie UFOs–many of which were put aside because I wasn't confident in the skill needed to take the next step.  I now feel ready to take on the challenge in some of those projects.

After my New Year's Day lunch, I'll be pulling out my project for January's lovely finish ... or I may head out for a walk in the sunshine ... you never know when Winter will return with a vengeance.
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