Monday, December 30, 2013

Celtic Solstice Step 5 and Christmas Wrap-up

I'm just sort of barely keeping up here, but I think the holiday activity has pretty much come to a close.  There is still all of the "taking down" and "putting away" to do and we have one more Santa trip to make up north (and a few more presents to buy for that trip!)  We affectionately refer to this get-together as "Janumas".  But the pace is slowly returning to normal.

Son #3 spent a full two weeks with us and since he is girlfriend-less this year I had the chance to spend lots of time with him.  I know opportunities like this are fleeting and this may be my last year for such a luxury so I was sure to take full advantage of our mutually waking moments (anyone with teenagers/young adults knows what that means - the time between noon and whenever I go to bed).  I will admit that I had forgotten how much these men eat!  I was able to dust off my cooking skills and put a few old favorites on the table but my skills in "appropriate food quantity" were not so good.  More than once there wasn't a crumb left on the table (and my sister will tell you that in an Italian family that means that you didn't make enough).

So, Celtic Solstice, Bonnie Hunter's mystery quilt for 2013....I was not only able to complete step 5 but I also was able to do the cutting for my missing step 1!  I used the easy angle ruler for the first time and I think I like it!  I will admit that occasionally I got a bit lost with all the measurements on the ruler but the blocks seem to be fairly consistent and even actually square.  I found that on my machine it was important to change to the single hole plate when sewing on these teeny triangles to prevent the fabric from getting mashed down into the machine.
I've been back to sewing for several years now and finally have begun to develop some opinions on brands and items that I like or dislike.  So, let me just say that I've come to LOVE Superior Top Stitch Needles and their Masterpiece thread.  I met their representative at a quilt show last year.  He patiently taught me the basics of the differences in threads.  I bought a sample assortment and was impressed.  The thread even feels smoother to your fingers and it sews like a dream.  Then I decided to try these needles.  I won't bore you with the details on the specifics (the web site has all that info) except to say that they are titanium coated and work great.  I get their newsletter and it is always entertaining.  Let's face it, it takes some creativity to make thread and needles entertaining, but these guys manage to do it.  There shipping is very reasonable and the orders come quickly.  If you live in Hawaii Dr. Bob (he's a self proclaimed doctor of threadology) will personally deliver your order for an additional $700, to give you an example of their humor, or you can just pay the regular shipping of $3.95 and let the post office deliver it.  They also run a lot of specials on their web site from time to time.   

Perhaps I need to say that this particular blog has no paid ads or testimonials.  That's just my opinion.

So, I'm joining the linky party on Bonnie's site.  See you there!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Celtic Solstice Step 4

I've thought a lot about blogging this week, and I have several posts just waiting to be written.  But my days have been cram packed with shopping, wrapping, decorating and spending time with son #3.  I did manage to get step 4 of Bonnie Hunter's mystery quilt done though.  I just spent a bit of time here and there.  Fortunately it was an easy enough step that I could do it in the fragments of time available.  All of the blocks aren't trimmed and checked for problems, but I'm calling this one done.  I still haven't even started on step 1....maybe later this week?
We're having grey rainy days.  I had to take that picture right in front of a window with the blind raised high and still my camera wanted to use the flash.

I'm linking up with Bonnie.   If I don't get back here before Christmas.....Best wishes to all of you for a wonderful holiday.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Celtic Solstice: Step 3

I've been able to get some work done on Bonnie Hunter's mystery quilt: Celtic Solstice.  My ruler for step #1 arrived and I have my fabrics laid out on the cutting table waiting for some action.  But, I have step #3 finished!
I made my half square triangles (200 of them) the same way as Kevin the Quilter- sewing around a pair of larger squares and then cutting the squares on the diagonal both ways making 4 half square triangles. He explains this technique really well on his blog.  Does anyone know: is there a formula for doing this?  I used 3 1/2 inch squares which were a bit too big and required trimming.  That's not such a bad thing for "little miss inconsistent" me.  But it would be nice to know the formula.

So, hopefully before Friday I'll have a chance to get busy n step #1.  I still have two last minute Christmas presents to get done, decorating to do and presents to wrap....oh, and a bit of shopping, too!

I'm linking up with Bonnie Hunter's linky party.  Happy Mystery Quilting, everyone!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Paper Pieced Beach House

A few months ago I mentioned in a previous post hat we often stop at a fabric store on our way to the beach.  I may have also mentioned that on our recent trip the husband added a kit for a paper pieced beach scene to my check out pile.  I'm not sure he really knew what it was - only that he liked the picture and thought our son would like to have it for Christmas.

I've done some paper piecing before but nothing this small.  But, I stuck with it, made my share of mistakes and I think the end result turned out well:
The house is a bit wonky....although it wasn't meant to be.  But I tell myself that once it's hanging on the wall who can tell if the house is off or the piece isn't hung straight?  And, besides, a lot of beach houses truly are wonky in real life!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Donuts Anyone?

I made this placemat for an uncle of mine.  He teases that when his wife needs to go somewhere for a few days and he is left along, he stocks up on donuts to last him until she returns:

I got to use my embroidery machine and do a bit of small scale free motion stippling.  I hope he gets as much fun out of it as I got out of making it!

Views From My Sewing Room Window

We live where the plow comes late.....


Monday, December 9, 2013

Celtic Solstice Step 2 and Mis-step 1

I just finished the second step in Bonnie Hunter's mystery quilt.  Actually I'm two blocks short and they all need a bit of trimming.  Here's a picture of them on top of my fabrics for step 1.
You might be wondering why I haven't posted about step 1.  First, two disclaimers:
  • Bonnie, if you're reading this, I am not whining.  My frustrations with step 1 were totally due to my own poor planning.  Your directions are great and you've given me several options.
  • And Linda and Monkey at Inklingo....You are great and you have a great product. You provided fast responses to my emails and questions about using the system.  Again, I am the author of my troubles.
So, back when Bonnie first posted the materials list for this quilt I decided to use the Inklingo method instead of the rulers.  I really like this idea where you mount your fabric on freezer paper, send it through a printer and it comes marked with cutting and sewing lines.  It seemed to conserve fabric since there is a lot less trimming and most of all I thought it would give me consistent pieces.  I can be a bit rotary cutter challenged at times.  We can blame it on "old eyes" or inattention or whatever but getting 200 consistent cuts can be a bit of a struggle at times.  If I were on top of my game I would have tried out the system and gotten the process down before the start of clue one, but I didn't.

Only when I started to print my fabric for step one did I discover that my current printer does not accommodate custom sized paper.  There are probably many of you reading this and thinking, "Oh, she's wrong and just doesn't know where to find it."  Trust me on this, I've worked with many printers, I have a husband who has had a long career in computers since before the microchip was invented and this printer that I currently have can not print on custom sized paper.  My husband has a printer in his office which will do custom sizes and he graciously offered to let me use it.  But, I've been married long enough to know what a bad idea that would be!  I would be in his little room, getting in the way while he was trying to concentrate on his work or make phone calls.  I just couldn't see it working.  And without custom sized paper the amount of fabric waste would have been incredible.

So, I decided that my plan B would be to go to the local quilt shop to buy the ruler.  I called all the fabric stores in my town and discovered that only one carried the ruler but it was out of stock.  I guess there are a lot of mystery quilters around here.  They had no idea when it would come in.  I printed out the templates and considered going that route and I'm still holding that out as Plan D.  But for now we are waiting on Plan C to unfold.  I ordered the ruler online.  The first four sites I tried were backordered.  The fifth one has mailed my ruler and it might have even been here today if we hadn't had this winter storm which has slowed down the mail.

And that is my woeful tale of "mis"- step 1!  Hopefully I will soon be able to work on it between the other steps.  Often there are a few easy weeks around the holidays so maybe I can catch up then. 

I'm linking up with Bonnie's  Mystery Link-up Part 2.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Me and Santa

We're having a "snow day" of those days when the weather changes your plans.  The "plans" were to have another go at Christmas shopping, but with the snow, sleet, ice and general "ick" outside it seemed wiser to just stay inside today.  I've been working on Christmas cards, Celtic Solstice clue #2, a bit of wrapping and organizing.  So with time to think and the white landscape outside for inspiration my thoughts have drifted back to Santa.

That picture above stood on my father's dresser for a long, long time.  I would guess that I'm about three in that picture. (The snow pants look a bit tight.  My mother's tactic was, "Buy them big, wear them for at least two years!)  The thing I remember most about Santa is that EVERY year when he left my presents he wrote me a letter!  He must have written it as he was eating the cookies and drinking the milk that I left for him in the kitchen.  I also left some water outside for his reindeer and a few carrots for them to eat.  Toys and gifts being left for me was always a nice surprise but just as amazing was the cookie plate, empty except for crumbs, and the empty glass of milk.  His letter usually told me that he was glad I had been and good girl and he hoped I would continue on that path for the next year, obeying my parents and helping around the house.
Eventually as I grew up I realized that Santa's handwriting was very similar to my father's.  I was in school by then and with the help of my peers I began to realize that Santa wasn't as real as my younger self thought.  But, I couldn't tell my parents.  I was afraid to ruin their Christmas! A little background might help me explain this:  I am the youngest of four by 11 years.  When I was born, my siblings were 15, 13 and 11.  So there were no slightly older siblings to burst my Santa bubble early on.  In fact it wasn't long before my siblings were out of the house and either married or in college. I somehow realized that once I admitted that I didn't believe in Santa, my parents would have no one left to "create Santa" for.  So I went along with it for 2 or 3 more years to keep from disappointing them.  They truly seemed to love making Christmas come alive for me and I didn't know what would happen to the holiday once I announced the truth.  But eventually my wise mother realized that it was time and casually, one early December asked me about Santa.  I had to admit that I realized who wrote the notes and ate the cookies and milk.
Amazingly my parents took it pretty well; Christmas went on, although the cookies, milk, reindeer food and letters didn't.  The spirit of Santa lived on in our house and there were soon grandchildren for them to share it with - but of course, Santa's visit for them occurred at their own house, not ours.  Hence, no need to resurrect the Santa letters and snacks. I still remember the magic, though.  And I'm glad to have lived the magic.
So, I'm curious.  Did you grow up believing in Santa?  How/when did things change?  I'd love to hear any Santa memories you'd like to share.  HO HO HO!!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Catching Up and Still Time to Vote!

This has been a week of catch up after a full Thanksgiving holiday.  We had lots of family time and food and meals and talk and food and dishes and food and....well, you get the idea. 

One little tradition we have is to put out a jigsaw puzzle when there is a family gathering.  This year we finished two puzzles.  Gathering around an activity like that seems to encourage conversation across the generations and limits the awkwardness that sometimes comes when people gather only a few times a year.

So...I have more to share but the husband is ready to go shopping so it will have to wait.  But....just one thing.....there is still time to "like" or "+1" my entry into the Iron Quilt challenge.  The voting is open until Sunday.  All votes appreciated.  I would love to get to 100 (my combined votes are at 73 now)  I know that won't be enough to win but somehow that number seems like an accomplishment.  The links to the voting pages are on the previous post here.  My local quilt store put a post on their Facebook page about the quilt...that was exciting! 

I'm off to help the economy......wish me luck in finding just the right presents for everyone.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Iron Quilter 2 - Time to Vote! Calling All Facebook-ers

I've been saving the "unveiling" of this quilt for a few weeks and now is the time!  In September Jenny Doan of Missouri Star Quilting Company visited our local guild and told us about a contest they were going to have: Iron Quilter 2.  You must use a certain "secret ingredient" in the making of a quilt.  In this case the ingredient was 1 to 3 charm packs of Lovely by RJR Fabrics.     I had never used precuts up to this point, but Jenny's enthusiasm is so infectious that I just had to give this a try.  So, with one charm pack and some precut Kona white strips, I present to you, "Backyard Trellis":

Of course there is voting and prizes along with the contest.  You can vote for my quilt (or to be fair....for the quilt of your choice) on the Missouri Star Quilt Company Facebook page.  All of the entries will appear in a Facebook Album and you vote by "liking" the photo of the quilt.  I'm one of the last 20 people in the world (kidding, of course) NOT on Facebook (not kidding) so I can't even vote for my own quilt!  But, I'd be grateful for any votes you can toss my way.  The top 25 will go on to the next round for the final voting.  THIS link takes you directly to the picture of my quilt which is anxiously awaiting your "like". 
Notice anyone peeking around the back of the quilt?

 There were three off white charms that just didn't seem to fit the flower theme so they went onto the back to become a label:
Quilt particulars:  I used one charm pack and a bit of other fabric from my stash and the white precut strips.  They were 1 1/2 inches wide.  The only fabric I bought was the backing.  I actually had a piece of fabric to use for the backing but the husband walked in while I was pondering some quilt decisions and declared the other fabric "too light" for the front.  He sent me out to the fabric store to buy something else.  Isn't he great?  The blocks are snowballs set on point.  I free motion quilted loops in the center to continue the "viney" feel and then wavy lines on the borders.  This quilt doesn't have a "forever home" yet.  It may live in the guest room....time will tell I guess.

That's enough for now....I want to leave you time to vote.  :-)

I'm linking up with Lily's Quilts Fresh Sewing Day also...(gotta work that social networking!)

New info:  Turns out that you can also vote on Google+.  In fact you can vote in both places if you want.  :-)  THIS link will take you to the Google+ photo of my quilt.  You vote by "+ing" it.