Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Lovely Finishes and Failures in 2014

As part of A Lovely Year of Finishes, I set 10 monthly goals and mostly met them.  But whether the goal was accomplished or not, I made progress.  Here are my 2014 Lovely Finishes (and failures).

January's Lovely FinishIn January, I completed the last of the hand-pieced blocks from an old UFO.

These blocks were begun as a Quilt-along in 2010. I was living in Dallas then and, after putting them aside, two moves later, I picked them up again, discovered I didn't have one of the patterns, had no luck getting a copy from the designer and so created my own.

Figuring out how to design blocks like this was a great experience and led me to design more "sunflower" block patterns later in the year.

I blogged about my January lovely finish here.

I goofed and didn't declare a Lovely Finish goal in early February, but I had a redwork project in mind and completed this pair of designs for a pair of pillows–I still haven't done anything with these beyond the stitching ... look for them to become an 2015 Lovely goal.

Redwork Completed

Tea Towel Quilt with pieced bordersI didn't blog about my March finish (just linked from the photo on Flickr), probably because I expected to completely finish my Tea Towel challenge (a goal for the challenge), but I did meet my Lovely Finish goal for March by finishing the top. 

This challenge quilt ended up being much larger than planned and, I confess, my idea for how I wanted to quilt it intimidated me a little ... which is probably why it is still unquilted.

(I am such a scaredy cat sometimes).

In April, I had another built-in Lovely goal, because of a Spring Challenge on the 15 Minutes of Play blog.
Spring Challenge - April's Lovely Finish

The 14 inch square pillow I made for the Spring Challenge is Blogged here: April's Lovely Finish - A Spring Challenge Pillow.

I joined the local quilt guild in May, and set a lovely goal of making a kids charity quilt for their May meeting.

I had such a blast playing with novelty charms in my stash when I made the quilt below, that I am planning to do it again this year.

I blogged about my May finish here: A Finish and a Plan for a Friday Night Sew-In.

I-Spy Stars Kids QuiltThis was my second attempt at spiral quilting–which went pretty well–and at trying the faux-piped binding technique–which wasn't very successful.

I would give that faux piped binding thing one more try in the project that was my June lovely goal.

That quilt, which I called Pinwheel HSTeria was made from the bonus triangle squares from the charity quilt as well as some smaller ones from another project and some string fabric borders made from novelty fabric that I found in my fabric bin with the novelty charms–it felt like a little quilt made from nothing but leftovers.

Pinwheel HSTeria - June's Lovely Finish
I had thought to add small buttons in the center of the small lavender pinwheel blocks (to hide the mis-matched seams) and Hilda kindly even sent me some itty bitty dark buttons for that purpose, but the wonkly little blocks grew on me and I ended up leaving them as is.

I blogged about this finish here: Pinwheel HSTeria–June's Lovely Finish.

(My third effort at making that faux piped binding went much better, but it still isn't my favorite way to make piped binding.)

In July, I put together a bunch of Silly String blocks made by friends at the Chicken River Modern Quilt Guild in Las Vegas (NM) at a workshop I led there.

Silly String Blocks + RED
My original plan was to make a tote ... but the blocks insisted they wanted to become a small quilt which I call String Theory.

This is another project that is still not quilted ... maybe next year? I considered it a lovely failure because I didn't get to "done done."

I blogged about it here: July's Lovely ... Failure. 

In August, work became a priority and I decided to take a lovely break.

I was having a hard time getting back to the habit of quilting and balancing my time between work and studio.

In September, I set a lovely goal to quilt the quilt below ... but only got it layered and basted and just barely started on the quilting.

I had to withdraw it from the guild show ... so humiliating.

A Whole Lotta Love
To find my way back to FINISHING things, I worked with a local long-armer to quilt the quilts I finished for my October and November Lovely Finishes (shown below).

Sophie's Featherbed, my lovely finish for October  was finished in time for the local show ... and even won a ribbon.

I blogged about it here: A Shocking Finish.

I worked hard in November to finish my goal and, in spite of being hit by a car (while walking across the street) and having to move out of my house for a week when the boiler cracked, I managed to make the remaining blocks and assemble my Mod-Mod-sampler in time to enter it for QuiltCon.  (It is among the hundreds of rejected quilts.)

Sophie's Feather Bed

It's a Mod Mod Sampler Quilt - Finished

December's finish was a sweet one: I finally finished all the blocks I needed to put together this Rainbow Scraps Challenge project ... begun almost 4 years ago.  I blogged about it here, last weekend: December's Lovely Finish

Completed Top

Monday, December 29, 2014

In Praise of the Making Scrap Quilts and the Rainbow Scraps Challenge

As often happens at this time of year, I have been looking back and looking forward and thinking about some of the scrappy projects I've made and those still in progress, as part of the Rainbow Scraps Challenge.

When I joined the challenge in January, 2011, one of the first things that happened was some reorganization of my scraps and how I stored them.  Before, I stored them, by color, in large zip-lock bags. As part of the sorting, pressing and using them up or folding them nicely and putting them away, I also moved them into plastic bins, recycled produce containers.

My old scrap storage system my new scrap storage idea ironing, folding and cutting 144 squares

That first month, I made the first of the broken dishes blocks, cutting squares with rotary cutter and ruler and trimming afterward ... and created a pile of trimmings.

A few of my favorite tools Blue Shred

This project would become my excuse reason to purchase a die cutting machine ... which was used to cut the rest of the 3,872 triangles I used to make the quilt I shared on Saturday. Next year, I'll be using it again, with a different die to begin a new project.

I didn't always participate in the Rainbow Scraps Challenge–in fact, I took a whole year off in 2012, but it was a great motivation to work on large projects in a small, one-month/color-at-a-time way and some small single-color projects.  Here are a few of my favorite small projects:

Blue Scraps mug rug  Finished Pillow

12 Puffy Hearts Placemat for Kitchen Angels
Sewing Machine Cover

I still have a few on-going projects for large quilts that I either began this year or picked up and moved further along ... and I do have a few ideas for new projects I'd like to begin in 2015. Here's one.

Butterflies - Inspiration for a new Rainbow Scraps Challenge project

These butterfly blocks are PIECED (from some very odd-shaped pieces, cut from templates) and I think they would be a great scrap project that would also provide some nice, on-going, hand-work for Slow Stitch Sundays.  This quilt was made c. 1935 by Nina Shrock, Harvard County Indiana.

This is the cover quilt for the book, The New England Quilt Museum QUILTS, still available from Amazon.

It is one of five of the heirloom quilts from the museum's collection for which there is a pattern.

I don't plan to use ONLY 30's fabrics in my butterfly blocks, but I think the feeling will be the same. I think making scrap quilts connects us to those depression era quilters. I found this description in the book of that time and this quilt:

The Great Depression of 1929 brought a national concern for thrift and frugality.  The Work Relief Program of the Works Progress Administration was created to revitalize home crafts and community projects.  The craft program, spear-headed by Eleanor Roosevelt, encouraged women in traditional American Handicrafts. Scrapbag quilts, which are made from tiny "scraps" of fabric, were well suited to the American New Deal.  In making such a quilt, a woman reinforced both her clever economy and her unique role as an American craftsperson.  This Butterfly pattern was published by one of the most popular designers of the era, Laura Wheeler. The design reflects art deco styles in it's curved arabesques and bold outline, and is one of the favorite quilts in the NEQM's collection.
RSC 15
Whether you join Angela's Rainbow Scraps Challenge to organize and/or use up your scraps or to play with ideas about color and value, I whole-heartedly recommend the exercise.  The eye candy you'll see along the way, in the many wonderful projects made by others, is so inspiring.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

December's Lovely Finish

My goal for December was to make the 21 scrappy orange blocks I needed to sew 121 of the blocks together into a top ... and here it is–ready to be quilted:

Completed Top

I began making these blocks during the first month I discovered Angela's Rainbow scraps challenge, in January 2011. I took a year off after I really used up nearly all my scraps the first year, and let these blocks wait another year ... but I started this year really wanting to finish these blocks and make the quilt.

Scrappy InspirationI started with blue scraps and some inspiration from a photo of Charm Stars Quilt by Mary Carol Sternitzky of Garfield, Arkansas which I found in the book, Quick and Easy Scrap Quilts.

My quilt is made from smaller blocks and won't have borders. The top measures 88 inches square.

It's interesting to see how the lack of white fabrics in my blocks results in a much more color-saturated design ... or perhaps it's because there is very little yellow and orange in Mary Carol's quilt.

I'm joining the Lovely December Finishes' party and the last Scrap Happy Saturday of 2014 for the Rainbow Scraps Challenge.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Symmetry or Asymmetry, that is the question

At some point after I started making the Broken Dishes Star blocks (as I think of them), I drew a symmetric, trip-around-the-work style layout and figured out how many blocks I'd need.  And finally, I've made them all.

But lately it feels that asymmetry is more my style and so I started putting them on the wall that way and promptly discovered that the numbers of each color weren't going to work out for me ... so this is just a little bit off-center.  Does it work or does it look like a mistake? 

All the blocks are made ... and on the design wall.

The artificial lighting in the studio is not good, but I'm not going to be home during the daylight hours for a while, so I decided to take and post a photo anyway.  There are 121 of my monochromatic scrappy blocks (made for the Rainbow scraps challenge) on the design wall. I don't know if Judy plans to have a Design Wall Monday this week, but if she does, I'm ready. (She did and I updated this post to link to it.) 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Weekend after the FNSI

Orange Broken Dishes BlocksKnock knock.

Who's there?


Orange who?

Orange you going to blog about the results of your Friday Night Sew In?

On Friday, I finished cutting almost 800 orange triangles ... and I spent some time over the weekend sewing together triangle squares and making broken dishes blocks. It was a whole lot of chain sewing and pressing ...

These are twelve of the 21 blocks I'm making.

The real fun is coming ... when the orange blocks are done, I'll add them to the yellow, green, blue, purple and red ones and start playing on the design wall.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Approaching Normal

For those who wonder, I am still, surprisingly, hurting and am frustrated by the things that I still cannot do, but I continue to act as if things have returned to normal and make the effort.

New Project IdeaYesterday, I took advantage of the sale on holiday fabrics at Santa Fe Quilting and came home with these ... and an idea on how I want to use them.

I felt bad about leaving the store in a bit of a mess because I just couldn't push the bolts back in place on the shelf.

I have owned the Art to Heart Book, 12 Days of Christmas and the stand for the little quilts for a while and I love the idea of using these little quilts to count down to Christmas ... and perhaps, with these new fabrics in hand, I will be able to make it happen this year ... if I can get past the pain of applying pressure with a rotary cutter necessary to cut the fabrics.

Orange ScrapsI have also pulled out my orange scrap bin and the die cutter to make the blocks I need for one of my rainbow scraps challenge project (and goal for a lovely finish in December), but ... I am afraid the motions involved may not be possible for me to accomplish without pain ... yet.

I know that getting back to working with fabrics will be good for me, emotionally and creatively, though, so if I cannot work on these two December projects, I will find do-able others.

Although I missed the deadline for QuiltCon, I am still motivated to finish this quilt, from the Michael Miller challenge fabrics.

MM Fabric Challenge - Still in-progress

I had just finished arranging the randomly colored log cabin blocks and started sewing them together before the crazy life events of the last few weeks ... and left them on my design wall looking just like this for almost a month.  I am still excited about the quilt design I have in mind for this quilt and am motivated to finish.

Perhaps, the best choice for me would be some handwork ... I keep thinking about getting organized for some comfortable, restful, hand-quilting. I just have to get past the physicality of reaching, pulling, arranging involved in basting a quilt.   If I can make this last one happen, I am looking forward to a Slow Stitch Sunday evening of hand quilting and stress reduction.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

It's Beginning to Look Like ...

Santa Fe Prepares for the holidaysToday was a cold and rainy day, but earlier this week, on a more pleasant day, I snapped some photos of the preparations for the holidays around the Santa Fe Plaza.

The dog sculptures outside the Pop Gallery were wearing new festive ribbons.

The decorations here are a mix of traditional, commercial and uniquely New Mexico style.

The rain falling here translates to snow in the mountains ... and a hint that we may have a frosting of the white stuff at lower elevations soon.

Santa Fe Prepares for the holidays Santa Fe Prepares for the holidays Santa Fe Prepares for the holidays
Santa Fe Prepares for the holidays Santa Fe Prepares for the holidays Santa Fe Prepares for the holidays
Santa Fe Prepares for the holidays Santa Fe Prepares for the holidays Santa Fe Prepares for the holidays
Santa Fe Prepares for the holidays Santa Fe Prepares for the holidays Santa Fe Prepares for the holidays

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

A Different Kind of WIP Wednesday

Over the past couple days, the old cracked boiler has been removed and a new one, which didn't work, installed in it's place. Electricians were called, circuit boards were replaced and late this afternoon, someone called the manufacturer's tech support line and troubleshot the problem--there was a tiny little missing jumper wire.

So, the work in progress around my studio looked like this:

Good riddance old cracked boiler Getting ready for the new boiler
Putting in the new oneAt the "not quite working" phase ...

Because it's a radiant heat system and the house has become very cold over the past week, it's going to take a while for things to warm up ... but this is progress in the right direction.
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