Friday, December 27, 2013

All Caught Up

Christmas Day at our house is pretty laid back. My mother-in-law is in a nursing home and we visited her on Christmas Eve. My parents live in Arizona, as do my sister, Kelly, and my brother, Noah.  My brother, Chris, lives over four hours away.  My only sister who lives locally always spends Christmas Day at her in-laws. So after the gifts are opened, we all do our own thing until dinner.

I spent a couple hours working on my Celtic Solstice week one triangle-in-a-square units.

I still need to do a little trimming to make sure they are all 3 1/2", but otherwise, I'm all caught up. I can't wait for the next clue! How are your units coming along?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Awesome Christmas Gifts

This year was different in that none of my family could really think of anything we wanted for Christmas. So none of us really had a Christmas wish list but we did all get some things we needed, like new pajamas, a camera power cord to replace one that was lost, or, in my case, a new walking foot for my sewing machine.

My current walking foot is only three years old but it jumps, skips, and slams, then spits out black residue on my quilt tops. I tried to search the internet for what might be wrong with it, but couldn't really find a cause. So I received a new one for Christmas.

But that's not all - my family and friends know me so well, even though I didn't ask for anything, they still found, or made, awesome gifts for me.

I received two gift cards to Joann's that I will use for batting, thread, and Kona solids.

My husband gave me a gift certificate to my LQS that I'll put towards having a quilt long arm quilted.

Even though I asked my staff not to get me anything for Christmas, Diana, who also quilts, made me two fabric bowls:

I'll use the small one on my sewing table to gather stray threads and the large one on my cutting table to collect scraps too small to use.

I think these are awesome!! Diana also made me these coasters that will go perfectly on my porch.

When we went to the quilt shop hop in Massachusetts, I was looking for a candle mat pattern and couldn't find one I liked in my budget. Diana remembered that and for Christmas, she also gave me this fantastic candle mat pattern and some hand dyed wool to make it. Wow!

But my favorite quilting-related gift I received this year was from my son, Chris. He went to Maine last week to visit one of his friends from college. While there, he went to a quilt shop, Quilt Essentials, and picked out all this fabric for me:

Some Asian fabrics:


And hand dyed fabrics:

I'm pretty sure I would not have chosen any of these fabrics on my own, but I'm so impressed that he went in to the quilt store and picked them out himself!!  I think I'm going to try and figure out a way to use them all in one quilt that I'll give to him when it's done.

How was your Christmas? Did you receive any quilting-related gifts?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Midwinter Chip Christmas!

Merry Christmas!  I hope you and all your family are enjoying a wonderful Christmas. We sure are here at casa Adirondack! 

The presents have all been opened - for the most part, we went practical and useful this year for everyone. 

We ate our traditional breakfast of Pillsbury's Orange Cinnamon Rolls - Yummm! (Plus some candy out of the stockings - when else do you eat candy for breakfast, except maybe Easter!)

We've thrown out all the wrappings and put away all the boxes. I'm seriously thinking about making fabric wrappings and tags for next year that can be reused for many years - although to be honest, at least one shirt box we used today was at least 20 years old.  We keep reusing them until they are just so falling apart they have to be put in the recycle bin!  New clothes are ready to be washed and we're all thinking about naps.

I'm planning to head down to the sewing room to put in some time on finishing the week 1 Celtic Solstice blocks before making our Christmas dinner of NY strip steaks and shrimp, with strawberry cheesecake for dessert.  Mmmmmm!

Remember when I started something small? At the beginning of the year I set a goal of completing one charm square quilt every month. I needed to finish one more charm square quilt to meet the goal, but Sinta and Sherri gave us December off from the Schnibbles quilt along.  So I chose to make Chip, a Little Bites pattern by Carrie Nelson. Carrie designed the pattern to be made with 2 1/2" mini charms, but she also gave directions in the pattern for a third version using one charm pack. After only using one charm pack of Midwinter Reds for last month's Liberty Joe, I still had one charm pack left.  Using only the red and cream fabrics, I made Chip into an octagonal table topper by using triangles on the corners instead of squares.

Here's a shot of the quilting from the backside:


Midwinter Chip has been gracing my dining room table for a couple weeks now.  Don't you love it when you meet your goals?

Celtic Solstice - Part 4

For some reason, my photo stream hasn't been working the last week so I wasn't able to edit any photos or upload them to the web.  Blogs with no photos aren't as enjoyable to read, so I didn't post anything.

Anyway, it appears to be working now, so here's my week 4 progress on Bonnie Hunter's Celtic Solstice Mystery Quilt:

Thank you, Bonnie, for giving us some easy cutting and sewing for this week's clue! Bonnie knew we would all be stressed out and super busy on the last weekend before Christmas so she gave us the simplest cutting and sewing unit of all - four patches! For my mini version (half the blocks of the small version) I needed to complete 60 four-patch units.

Since this weeks unit was so easy and I was all ready for Christmas, I was able to catch up a little by finishing all the week two chevron units.  I'm about halfway done with the triangle in a square units from week one.

With the last two weeks, I'm finally getting into that scrappy groove and each unit has all different fabrics. I don't know which color combo I like better, but I really love the orange and yellow pinwheels!

I played around with a few setting options - I really like the one with the chevron blocks!

I'm a blue fan, so I hope there's more blue units to come.

Check out Bonnie's blog to see how everyone else is coming along.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Celtic Solstice Mystery Quilt - Part 3

I turned the big 5-0 last week and received my AARP card in the mail so I guess that means I'm officially OLD!! Ha Ha!

Hubby and I both took a few days off to spend time with Jason, our youngest, who was home for the weekend to celebrate Christmas with us because he has to work on Christmas Day. Jay also had an amateur boxing match on Monday night, so we went to see the fight.  It's so hard for me, as a Mom, to watch my son get hit. I always say a little prayer that neither fighter gets hurt.  Thankfully, no one was injured and Jason won by TKO (technical knock out) in the third round.

We actually got a bonus day with Jay because the boxing match he was supposed to have in Syracuse on Saturday was canceled due to the weather, so he came home early on Friday.

Knowing he was driving home on Friday night, I got busy cutting fabric for the third clue in Celtic Solstice mystery quilt. I didn't use the new Easy Angle ruler I bought, but made my HST using the eight-at-a-time method.  So I cut 5" squares of orange and yellow, got them all sewn, cut apart, and pressed while I waited for Jay to get in.

On Saturday morning, I trimmed all those HST down to exactly 2", then sewed 13 pinwheel blocks. This is where making the "mini" version of half the blocks required for Bonnie's "small" version might get tricky. The small version required 200 HST, of which 100 were used to make 25 pinwheel blocks. Since you can't very well make twelve and a half blocks, I figured I'd better make 13 and hope that it will work for the mini.

I was grateful for the simple sewing this time around and had no trouble finishing this clue!

How are you coming along with the mystery quilt clues?  Check out Bonnie's blog to see how the other mystery quilters are progressing.  I am impressed by all the alternate fabric selections - many are really beautiful.  I also enjoyed seeing some quilters guesses as to final block layout.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The start of something small...

There's no official "Schnibbles" quilt this month, so at first, I thought I would make another scrappy table runner.  I wanted to make something in blues and whites that would work all winter long.  But, I really don't have many blue scraps cut into useable pieces, and while I do have plenty of blue scraps that I could cut up, I decided to find another charm square pattern so I would stay on target with my goal to complete one charm square quilt a month this year.

There's one pattern by Carrie Nelson that I fell in love with as soon as I first saw it:  Chip.  It's actually supposed to be made with mini charm squares (2 1/2" squares).  But the very last page of the pattern offers a third version that can be made with one charm pack.  Score!  I happen to have one more charm pack of Midwinter Reds by Minick and Simpson, and guess what??  Most of my Christmas decorations are red and white, so that fabric will be perfect!!

A couple hours cutting later and my pieces are all cut out.  Another hour later and I've pieced all the star points:

This is coming together quickly, so I'm hoping to have it finished and dressing up my dining room table by the weekend.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Celtic Solstice, Part 2

This is week 2 of Celtic Solstice, the mystery quilt series hosted by Bonnie Hunter.  Are you sewing along with me and about 200 others?

I'm working on a "mini" version, or about half the blocks of the smaller version.  It took me about 2 hours to get all the fabric cut out (because my scraps are not all nice and cut into the required sizes already, but I'm working on it).

I peeked at a few of the other quilters' pictures and so far, I haven't noticed that anyone made the same mistake I did:

Do you see the unit on the left?  Notice anything?  I sewed them with the wrong sides together so that the yellow formed the triangle at the top.  Oops.  So, a little unsewing later, and I fixed the first 5 units I put together.

I find that I am not able to be completely scrappy.  I'd like to be, really, because I love really scrappy quilts.  But my orderly mind makes me match things up.  So, all my units have the same green, the same yellow, and the same neutral.  But you will notice, that I didn't always use the same yellow with the same green and neutral.  See, I'm trying to be scrappy....

This time around, I pieced some of the blue and orange units from week 1 as my leaders and enders, so I have 10 more of those done.  I've never done leaders and enders before, but I'm a convert!  

Progress so far?  30 week 1 units, 25 week 2 units.  Hop on over to Bonnie's to check out everyone else's progress.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Christmas Snowman Mini Quilt

I didn't have this mini done for December 1, but it was only two days late.  The girls at work waited, mostly patiently for its arrival.

So, here is the Christmas Snowman Mini Quilt.

This mini incorporates just about every technique I know.  The tree and snowman are paper pieced.  It's been a while since I've done any paper piecing and I messed up numerous times, but eventually figured it out.

The star and "carrot" nose are fused on and machine appliqued.  

The rest was pieced in the normal fashion. I quilted 1/8" inside and outside the tree and snowman shapes before embellishing the quilt with a mini "light" garland I bought at AC Moore and couched on.  

Then I sewed on mini buttons for the snowman's eyes, mouth and stomach buttons.

This one ranks up there as one of my favorite holiday mini quilts.  

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Stocking for Jason

This is the first Christmas that our son, Jason, won't be with us. He's the rookie at his job and it's his scheduled day to work. Plus, as he did on Thanksgiving, he volunteered to work a double so one of the guys with kids can be home with his family.

Since he has his own apartment now, complete with electric fireplace, I decided to make him a Christmas stocking to hang up there. The first Christmas I was married I made stockings for my husband and I and cut out matching fabric for several more stockings so we would have enough for however many kids came along. As each son was born, I sewed up another stocking and added his name. Those first stockings were pretty crude. I have a nice stocking pattern now from my days selling at craft fairs in the 90's, but the kids won't let me make new ones for the house. They still want those old stockings. So, I'll hang up all the old stockings here and send Jay the new one I made for him.

This new stocking came from a panel I bought at my LQS. It's part of the In From the Cold line by Kate Spain.

I quilted and lined my version to add my own touch. I used white thread to quilt it, which looked fine on the aqua section but not so great on the red section:

Did you know you can "color" your thread? Since I didn't like the way the white thread looked, I "colored" it red using a Pigma red marker:

Much better now! I wouldn't recommend doing that on a whole quilt, but on this little stocking that won't be washed, it was fine. Yeah, it took a while, but not longer than it would have taken to pick all that white thread out and quilt it again with red thread!

I'm going to get it in the mail to Jay this week. We'll be missing him, but hopefully this will remind him of home.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Celtic Solstice - it's a start

Are you joining in with gazillions of other quilters to do the Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt, Celtic Solstice? I am!

I only recently "discovered" Bonnie Hunter (What? Have I been living under a rock?). As soon as I learned about the mystery quilt, I decided I wanted to join in. Since this is my first time, I decided to use the colors Bonnie suggested. Most if the time, I like to do my own thing. But, without knowing how the pieces will come together, I figured I better use her suggested colors. Next time I may strike out on my own color-wise (already sure there will be a next time!).

Since I do have a lot of other things I plan to sew/quilt in 2014, I'm planning to make my version smaller than the two options Bonnie gave, so I'm going to make half the blocks needed for the 75 x 75 size option.

Even with making the "mini" version, it seemed like it took forever to get the pieces cut from the first clue, but that's probably just because I do my cutting late at night!

I finished cutting the blue side triangles Sunday morning and got to sewing a few blocks together Sunday afternoon. Since I had some other sewing projects with deadlines, I only put together 10 units of each colorway.

Here's my start, 10 neutral and ten orange units: