Sunday, December 31, 2017

Goodbye, 2017

It's been a mixed bag this year for the blog in 2017.  I thank all the faithful readers and welcome new followers, who continue to visit my little corner of blogland, despite its diminished light!  There were a number of stressors in Real Life that made it hard to have a lot to talk about if I didn't have something crafty or quilty to show, and which sapped my energy to do the crafty or quilty things.  My sister Kathy continues to push me along, out of my rut, and I'm grateful she does.   I'm taking a step back from some time commitments/activities in 2018 and hope to channel more energy to what I love best--besides my family--spending time with needle and thread.    

There were finishes in 2017, nearly every month, including:
Star Crossed, for DD Erica, from APQ mag April 2016 but simplified design.  Made with a Ricky Tims' hand-dyed fabric aged in the stash for many years, and a Dimples print in green.

 Flying baby geese quilt, March 2017.  Made from leftovers from multiple projects including grandson Cove's baby quilt.  Setting I saw on Pinterest.

DD Erica's friend received this as a baby shower gift.  I just got a photo of her 3 week old baby James on it.  So cute.
 Doll quilt swap in April had me cutting Tri-recs with a V-trimmer tool. All these fabrics came from the scrap bins and stash. 
In May, a guild scrap box swap resulted in some string play.
A very time consuming play but I liked the end product, and so did the scrap owner, Judy. 

July was spent readying quilts for the County Fair.  I finished a modern Row Robin, a star pillow, and a mini flag quilt.  Click on each for a larger pic.

August finishes included a boomeranged charity quilt top I had sewn but handed off for quilting, lol, as well as a top I'd helped design but hadn't stitched.  I made backings, quilted simply and bound them both. 

I have another of the Houndstooth quilts awaiting additional cutting and sewing since I sewed the wrong pairs of squares together and have a design opportunity. Cough.

Son Nick's Cross Reference quilt was finally finished in September.  Pattern from APQ mag April 2017.  I made my version smaller and, of course, scrappy. 

 October was partly spent readying for SewTopia in New Orleans.  I made a swap gift of house blocks and also a tablerunner for the Michael Miller fabric challenge.  For some reason I don't have a photo of the finished challenge runner.  My mom tried to swipe it when she was over at Thanksgiving, lol.

November saw the finish of another baby quilt,; this is Signed, Sealed Delivered from APQ mag April 2017, I left off the two borders.   (You saw baby Grace with her quilt recently :)
I also made my grandsons stockings (last post), a bunch of charity block guild challenges, and finished a cross-stitch or two.  

There were also a great number of starts this year, and dearth of finished UFOs from the challenge I joined.  But overall, many happy hours were spent with needle and thread, fun Shop hop and fabric shopping with my sister, guild meetings and sew ins, SewTopia and my word quilt top, and a million ideas yet to appear on the blog.  For 2018, I have plans to finish more UFOs, devote additional hours to charity quilt projects for guild, and sew up a lot more fabric from stash.  

I appreciate all who comment on my work, and invite you back to see what I'm up to. 

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Christmas 2017

Our son being out of the country, our family Christmas Eve dinner was one smaller than usual.  We were happy to have our girls, son in law, and grandsons for pasta and salad dinner followed by brownies, iced molasses cookies, and of course, presents.

A smaller tree this year but just as festive with lights and ornaments.  
Cozy sweaters for the girls.  There was a slightly panicked few minutes when Cove, who wanted to use the candle snuffer, slid into the gap of the chair back, unnoticed by me as he climbed up to the table, and then got stuck.  Daddy had to rescue him, to tears and cries of "I'm going to be stuck here forever" and "we need a fireman", by forcing one rung free.  Thankfully, it was all over within a couple of minutes and after some respite in Mama's arms, he was ready to play again.  
Here he's pretending to be the knight he just dressed on the magnetic figure Mimi got him, using an imaginary sword.  
The aftermath!  Hunter wanted to try on his new shirts but then was distracted by a sticker that he found and applied to his chest.  So funny.  My darling husband completely surprised me by buying me a new Husqvarna Viking sewing machine.  I've been sewing on my Husqvarna Lily model for 15 years and it was time for an upgrade, but I had yet to start looking. After trying out the Tribute anniversary model he brought home,  I'm going to go one grade higher to the Sapphire 930 model with a 10" harp, so have that on order now.  Can't wait!  

The stockings I made for the boys came out nicely, at last, after further adjustments to several seam allowances, grading, and refitting.  I drew up the initials and used a whip stitch to attach felt letters to the cuff.  Some mini pompom trim and a ribbon added a lot of charm.  Elaine was very happy with them and Erica wanted to know where hers was :)

Christmas Day found us mostly lounging around enjoying breakfast with Erica and watching the Yule Log on TV, then I set to work on the two cheesecakes I needed to make for dinner at my folks' house in the late afternoon.  Numbers climbed quickly and I think 30 was the final tally for dinner, though more came and went!  Luckily the weather was good for those eating outside on the deck. 
(Hi, Honey, waving to the camera) Grant with two of my brothers and a nephew.

Brothers, nieces, nephews, daughter, sister, grandson and my dad.  Sister Kathy made caramel sauce, Grandma's fudge, and a fantastic potato dish, brother Kevin was barbecue master extraordinaire as usual with the prime rib steaks.  Many thanks to my brother Ted and sister in law Laura and family for doing so much of the prep work and set up.  We've had more time to relax and hang out, I've got some sewing done, and delivered a baby quilt today to daughter Elaine's best friend and her husband. 

Here's the beautiful little family with one month old baby Grace as the star.  They loved the quilt and I hope it gets plenty of use.  So fun to hold a new little girl.  (Pattern is Signed, Sealed, Delivered from APQ magazine, April 2017).   I'll be working tomorrow but then get another few days off before the holidays are over.  Love that!

Friday, December 22, 2017

December Catchup

Since my last post, the Thomas Fire has made it's way through nearly 274,000 acres of Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, and has the dubious distinction of being named the largest fire in California history. Over 700 homes were destroyed (500+ in my city), many others damaged, and thousands of acres of ranchland and orchards with beehives destroyed.  At one point there were over 8500 fire personnel on this fire; by today it has decreased to somewhere in the 2000s.  It is 65% contained and still a dangerous threat due to the severe dryness and Santa Ana winds, with no rain in sight.  They are hoping to have the fire 100% contained by January 7, which does not mean put out!  Sadly, one San Diego firefighter died while fighting the fire in Fillmore.  We watched on TV the transport procession and all the firefighters, first responders and residents lined up on every freeway overpass and roadside honoring his terrible loss.

This picture was taken 12/14 when there was still a lot of active fire in Ojai.  Air quality was very poor for many days, primarily at the western edge of the city as the fire moved up the coast. Masks were necessary.  Every day at work we are seeing patients who either lost a home or had relatives or friends who lost homes.  Evacuations have been lifted but many cannot return to their homes yet.  Today we heard of evacuees having to seek rentals in nearby cities as there is little available in town.  My city has responded "Ventura Strong", with the community banding together in a most admirable way, and look forward to rebuilding, but it will be a long process. 

Life has gone on for those not as severely affected by the fires, stores have reopened for holiday shoppers, and planned community events allowed to proceed.   My Bunco group gathered for the last game night of the year.  I made this little topper to include with a bottle of wine.  The backing was the same tree fabric. 

 I've also been working on stockings for our grandsons.  Fabrics are from the Merrily collection by Gingiber.

I found the pattern HERE. I chose this pattern as it included both lining and batting, giving it a lot of body--but also multiple thicknesses to stitch through.  I've had to do some fussing with the seam allowances and one stocking is in timeout.  Some mini pompom trim and an initial will complete the stockings--I'd like that task to be done tomorrow. 

Meanwhile, Papa and Mimi were invited guests for the daycare providers' annual Christmas program.  Kim, the wonderful daycare provider, pointed out that due to the fires they lost a week of practice, so the singing portion was mostly bedlam, but very entertaining.  Afterwards, presents were handed out.  Santa scared Hunter, but once safely away in his daddy's arms, he was eager to try out brother Cove's new scooter.  Hunter received a Little People Barnyard he loved.  

As usual, I am behind on everything holiday, though I did get the house and tree decorated and some gifts bought.  Last Minute seems to be my M.O.  Once again, no Christmas cards have gone out as yet, but we enjoying receiving them, especially the ones with pictures of friends and family.  Our son Nick is in Italy with his girlfriend, Ashley, and this is the latest photo he sent.

This view is from their Air BnB in San Gimiginano.  Amazing!  While we'll miss them at Christmas, we'll enjoy hearing of all their travels when they return.  

I may not get back on the blog as the mad rush swallows the next couple of days, so let me thank you all for visiting my little blog this year, and wish you the happiest of  holidays.  Cheers!

Friday, December 8, 2017

Thomas Fire

My city/county has been on fire since Monday night. The Thomas Fire started northeast of us in the next city over, and due to severe Santa Ana winds, rapidly burned through 10-12 miles of dry brush in the foothills.   We lost power about 9 pm and, along with our neighbors, tried to find out from our cell phones what was happening.  This was the scene from our upstairs window as flames crept down the foothills a mile or two away.

Evacuation orders were soon announced as the fire began to consume neighborhoods.  Our son was under mandatory evacuation, living very close to the hills, and he packed a bag and bugged out to his sister's at the beach. A nephew went to his grandparent's house. Our other daughter and her family packed up essentials for themselves and the kids and waited for word of evacuation, as did we.  It is funny what you find yourself picking up and considering valuable at a time like that.  We loaded the cars and dozed, on and off, through the wee hours of the night, but never received notice of need to evacuate--all the flames continued westward, away from us, miles toward the western edge of the city.  Our power was restored by about 9 am and we were able to watch news coverage of the horrible devastation of homes in the hills.  My brother's house was threatened, near where a rehab/psych hospital burned to the ground.  He evacuated to his son's house.  Other family and friends were evacuated and waited for word if their homes were spared.
Towering smoke viewed from our backyard.  The wind picked up again in the afternoon and whipped the fire towards Ojai.  It jumped the highway and began burning all the way to the ocean, and even now has continued northward into Santa Barbara County after burning through La Conchita and the beach communities. 
This very blurry photo was the smoke cloud as I left work Thursday.  All our offices were closed but one; this is looking  southwest to the  ocean.  When the winds were calm, the smoke sank to the ground. 

I had never seen this "Smoke" designation before on my weather app. Fires are still burning in Ojai, which was blazing all night with winds 30-50 mph with gusts up to 80, and it is heading to the national forest northward, with firefighters battling multiple other fires in LA and further south.  The Thomas Fire has burned more than 130,000 acres and is still only 10% contained.  There are at least two more days of Red Flag Warnings from the Santa Ana winds.  

439 homes have been destroyed, in the hills of my city, where most of the nicest and more expensive houses were.  My doctor boss knows at least 10 other doctors who lost homes.  I watched a former doctor employer on TV as his house burned and collapsed in 30 minutes, while firefighters tried to keep adjacent homes from catching fire.  There is still danger and evacuations in place, plenty more dry fuel in the hills and embers that could be carried miles.  Amazingly, only one death has been attributed to the fires, a woman died in a car crash trying to escape the flames in Ojai.  The community has risen up and offered much to the evacuees and the fire and rescue personnel.  Rebuilding will be slow, and the bare hillsides may take years to recover.  I have heard of no one who wants to leave our beautiful city by the sea, and know the community will continue to offer help and reassurance.  We remain on alert, until this siege is over.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Design Wall Monday--11/27/17

On my design floor is a Bonnie Hunter quilt.  No, I'm not talking about On Ringo Lake, her new mystery quilt that just debuted, but one with plenty of pieces, still.  This will be a brown version of her Narragansett Blues quilt from the More Adventures with Leaders and Enders book.  I made a lot of 4 patches and cut the rectangles, so a trial layout attempt seemed timely.

This is what the center looks like.  I need to cut a bunch of brown squares for this section as well as for many other rows.  I'm making a throw size for my uncle, whose favorite color is brown.  I always wonder why so many people dislike brown--it is all the primary colors mixed together, which is therefore why brown GOES with every color.  

So far the 4 patches are standing out just fine against the brown.  Naturally, as is usual for me whenever I change the size of a pattern, MATH happened.  I need about three times as many 4 patches for the layout I want.  Lots more cutting and sewing to be done, but that's not worrying me--I have plenty of scraps and am glad to have a place to use them!  I was tempted to sew up some of the vertical rows, but seeing as my sewing room is still disassembled for Thanksgiving Day furniture rearranging, back in the box they went.  Well, once I evicted Mini the cat from it--she can never resist an empty box.

See more design walls on Small Quilts and Doll Quilts

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Slow Sunday Stitching 11/26/17--Thanksgiving Wrapup

A little late to the party, but I do have slow stitching to show.  First, progress on the Lizzie Kate cross-stitch. 

We watched the grandsons last night and after they were in bed, I finished the rest of "forever" , after pulling out most of the V and redoing it, and got a start on the S for Stitching, while watching a PBS show on the Beatles.  I put a few stitches in today before diving into the ongoing binding job, a baby quilt for my daughter's best friend. 
 I had to get creative when I didn't quite have enough of the pink solid for the binding...

 ...though it disappears on my beige carpet :)  The label is next, as baby Grace is finally here, a week overdue.  After a bath, the quilt will be on its way to the newly expanded, happy family--she's the first grandchild for both sets of parents.  Linking up to Kathy's Quilts.

Thanksgiving was a rather quiet affair, with us hosting as usual, but without the big crowd.  One could actually hear oneself and others at the table, since there were only 11 of us: two of our kids, my mom and dad, brother, sister, uncle, and nephew with his girlfriend.  

We even ate together at one long table.  I enjoyed pulling out my Grandma's Red Apple dishes I love so much.  My sister Kathy was a big help to Grant and me in the kitchen, as always.  She peeled and seeded a pomegranate while I put together the fruit salad; she toasted walnuts and almonds for dishes, and made the green bean dish, while I tried to get out all the bowls and serving pieces. Brother Kevin carved the turkey, Mom and Dad brought pies, Erica made the special potato dish we all love.  Everything came out well.  Later, two nephews stopped by, one with his expectant wife, and Kathy gifted them the quilts she made at our retreat at Sewtopia--can it be only three weeks ago? 

First was the wedding quilt.  The couple are ski boarding enthusiasts and got married 18+ months ago in Mammoth Lakes in winter, at 10,000 feet.  Kathy used a panel and coordinates for a snowy mountain themed throw. 

The wedding quilt being late, they got an additional matching quilt for their baby boy due next month!  Mama-to-be has been on bedrest and is hoping for an earlier delivery.    The marrieds also stopped by with the grandsons so we all got to play (wind them up!) with them for a little while.  We had a lovely day and clean up took way less time than normal, lol.  The men even helped empty the living room of the 15 year old couches we were giving away, in anticipation of a new set to be delivered the next day.  Grant and I ended the evening by pulling dining room chairs to the TV to watch WALL-E.  

He had to work Friday, but I had the day off and not only did I not go out and shop on Black Friday, I never left the house. Bliss!  There were a few visitors to enjoy and plenty of pottering time after the busy days before.  Back to work tomorrow, and the mad rush to Christmas.  We'll wait until Dec 1 to get the lights up and house decorated, though plenty of our neighbors took advantage of the holiday to do so. Lots to do in the next month--but there will still be stitching time :)

Monday, November 20, 2017

Design Wall Monday--Nov 20

I'm late to DWM but do have progress to report.  Over the weekend I got the Star baby quilt for my daughter's best friend pinned at last, and set to quilting it yesterday. 

I was lucky to find a match for this Kona Flesh in a door prize Aurifil thread pack.  Wavy lines randomly spaced was my plan.  I quilted a number of rows before realizing that the horizontal lines I thought I was stitching were actually vertical.  Oh well!

Some rows I sewed to overlap and make a ribbon.  Mom-to-be is a week overdue and hoping to deliver soon.  Meanwhile, binding has been made and attached and last night I started stitching it down while watching TV, a process whereby it seems I really only stitch during the commercials!

I've also been getting a few stitches in a new cross stitch project, which I started on the plane to NOLA.  
Lizzie Kate's Stitching Forever, Housework whenever design.  Love my octopus needlekeeper. 

See more design walls on Small Quilts and Doll Quilts

Thursday, November 16, 2017

More Sewtopia NOLA

My sister joked that we flew 2000 miles to keep sweatshop hours, sewing all day and night at Sewtopia, but we enjoyed every minute of it.  Kathy, the speed sewist, made four quilt tops and completely finished two quilts!  I think she was the only one with that number, but there were many finished bags, blocks, quilt tops, and new projects going on all around us.  Our tablemates were our Guild president Tisha and her mom.  It was nice to have familiar faces but of course we met lots of other quilters.  Me, I cut and sewed, cut and sewed, and used two design walls to help me with my word quilt.  

Lots of color choices were made, plenty of switching around as well, as the quilt grew.  The letters were made from Laura Hartrich's Simple Shapes Alphabet, although I changed the dot of the "i" to a curved block instead of plain square. I used a 4" finished Drunkard's path template set from Jen Carlton Baily for my design.  The curves required a few pins but were not too difficult to sew at that size.  Many attendees were interested in my project and stopped by to ask questions and take photos.  Jen herself said she wanted to make a word quilt, and in her free moments as part of the staff, she sat down to design.  I fed her squirrel project by giving her some cat fabric:)

Lots of people signed up for a secret swap project.  The staff swapped them overnight and there were lots of squeals of delight the next morning as we found them by our sewing machines.  Too funny, my sister found her own swap item on her machine, which was quickly switched by staff.  Here's the beautiful item I received, full of goodies, made by Nela.

Gorgeous zip bag with the pineapples and polka dot lining.  The gnome fabric was made into a bag the items were in.

Tisha's mom's item came in this sewn paper wrap.  Very clever.  The girl who got my item seemed to like it; the house blocks runner I showed in progress a couple of posts ago.

Simple straight line quilting to keep it modern. 

I had fun with the back with this fabric from stash.  The runner looks crooked in this late-night-thrown-on-the-floor shot, but wasn't!  My word quilt grew slowly, letter by letter. I enjoyed choosing all the different colors. Many of the fabrics were from a Dimples charm stack of every color that I won at Superbuzzy a few years ago. 

In progress shot...with Tisha's intricate block project sharing the design wall.  Having the design wall was so great.  Wish I had room for one at home.  One gal the next table over couldn't wait to see what came next and helped me make decisions about the clover I designed to add. I begged additional greens from other attendees.
 It came out looking great, with her help.

By the noon witching hour on the final day, I had managed to sew all the pieces for the letters, clover and stars, and sewed over half the individual rows together.  I stacked and rolled them up for transport, pinning the loose rows and the clover pieces together in order.  They made it just fine in the luggage.  Last Sunday I sewed the rows together, then made the final decisions for the missing section.  Sew, press, sew press...
Hooray, a finished top!  The top is 60x76".  I am pleased with how it turned out and would make another word quilt with this simple alphabet.   What phrase would you make?

Some Sewing and Scenery

I've been spending little time in the sewing room lately, sewing a few blocks and rows together here and there, but not making much prog...