Wednesday, December 24, 2014

O Tannenbaum

I always think of O Tannenbam instead of O Christmas Tree, having spent time in Germany when I was very young (my memories are vague and probably more of what I have been told than what I really remember).

Last year we skipped a tree as we were in the middle of some repair work in our living room and it did not seem very Christmas like.  This year we have a tree and my husband even set up my son's large train set around the base:

In addition to the Bonnie Hunger mystery quilt I have been working on, I  made a small wall quilt using continuous prairie points this year as an exchange gift for a Christmas party and I am joining the link up party Bonnie is holding on her site today:

 Hope everyone has a joyous Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Punting Until After Christmas - Grand Illusion Mystery Clue Four

I am still making progress on Bonnie Hunter's Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt.  I have been working on clue four off and on since its posting last Friday. Most of the pieces are cut out and I managed to get four blocks finished this morning:

I also finished clue number one this week:
All 100 Blocks!
A I have a few (an understatement if there ever was one) other projects underway, I decided it was time to punt until after Christmas, so I gathered all the fabric:

 and all the blocks and block parts:

and pack it up so I don't have to spend hours searching for it in my disaster I call a studio when the next clue is posted Friday.  

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Deceptively Simple - Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt Clue Three

I didn't get a chance to start Bonnie Hunter's Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt Clue Three until yesterday.  I thought easy - strip piecing, nothing to complicated, just lots of blocks.

My three error studio rule was soon enacted.  Like baseball (three strikes and you are out), when I plan a long time in the studio, I work until I make three errors.  I find if I continue on, the next error is usually the one you can't easily fix - cutting a piece too small when you are almost out of fabric, ironing the fusible with the glue side up, quilting a scrap to the back of your quilt - you get the idea. After the third error occurs, I stop and leave my studio for a while - sometimes just a walk downstairs to get a drink of water is enough to clear my brain.  Other times I need a longer break.

I didn't have trouble with the cutting, sewing or pressing - my strips worked out to be exactly the right size.

No, the first error I made was being too clever in how I was going to mix up my fabric.  Since I do not have any pre-cut 2" strips, I decided to make all of my strips 2" by 8 1/2" long.  That way I would get 4 rows from each set.  I started cutting the rows from strip A and B separately so that I could mix up the fabric in the blocks and hopefully avoid any blocks that would contain the same fabric.

A few blocks into that theory I realized I might be making these blocks until next Christmas and changed to layering them like Bonnie had done in the clue post and cutting four blocks that will be out of the same fabric.  Four out of 120 blocks - I don't think they will be that noticeable.

The second error occurred when I wasn't paying attention and sewed a black strip to a neutral strip.

The third error was a double - If you notice the bottom block is reversed.   I usually pin all my intersections and have been doing this set with the rows just nested.  It has worked almost every time - except for that block on the bottom of the picture. I was not happy with intersections - took it apart, pinned the intersection and re-sewed.  Only then did I realize that it was reveresed.  I had sewn the rows together wrong for the second time.

I was done for the day.

I managed to work on the clue again this morning and made good progress - twenty-seven blocks finished.  That is all that will get done for awhile as I am headed to the Hobbit this afternoon with the kids and tomorrow is clue four!


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt Clue Two or a Quilter's Drinking Song

I haven't been able to make a great deal of progress on the second clue of Bonnie Hunter's Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt this week.  Several other projects had a higher priority - I needed to make samples for the new classes I will be teaching this spring at Stitch 'n Sew

Open Tote - Beginning Sewing

Introduction to Machine Applique
as well as finish the fourth of the placemats I taught this summer and will teach again this spring,

Beginning Quilting

so I didn't spend much time on the mystery until today.

I am planning to use the third method Bonnie posted in the clue to make the blocks, so needed to cut rectangles out of the neutral fabrics and squares out of the black and pink. I managed to get all the neutral rectangles and the pink squares cut as well as 100 of the black squares.

And I made one complete block - hence the reference to the drinking song - one down and 99 more blocks to go.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


I was able to work on Grand Illusion again today and now have 12 blocks completed (along with most of the half-square triangles and quite a few of the rows.)

I will be doing a couple of demos at Stitch n' Sew Fabrics  on Saturday - one on continuous prairie points so I also started working on another small project using this technique.  This is the beginning of a Christmas tree.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt - Clue One

I spent Friday not at the mall nor on the computer shopping but at my cutting table starting to work on Bonnie Hunter's Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt. This quilt is quite a departure for me as I rarely make a quilt from a pattern.  Lately my brain has been in overload so I decided to pretty much follow Bonnie's color choices as I wanted to just sew without really thinking too much.

I cut out the yellow squares fairly quickly and then slowed . . way . . down as I worked my way through the black squares.  I have a large black collection - but a lot of it is in pretty small pieces, so I figured this was a good time to cut up anything less than a fat eighth into usable squares, bricks and strips.  My smallest pieces are 1" wide as I am collecting this size for a future project.  

At the end of Friday I started cutting out the blue and pink strips and cutting them into triangles using the Easy Angler Ruler when I ran out of steam.

Saturday and Sunday  I continued cutting and finally finished all of the blue and pink strips and made all 280 pairs of triangles and actually sewed four squares together!

And they came out the right size!

Today between some desperately needed housework (a full house all weekend) and putting up some Christmas decorations, I made serious sewing progress. Note:  the two blocks in the upper left corner are actually finished. Two down - 98 to go!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

I think I need to rename my Christmas Cactus a Thanksgiving Cactus as it is always blooming now and is done by Christmas.

I am clearing the deck and getting ready to start work on Bonnie Hunter's Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt starting tomorrow.  I normally make up my own patterns - but I just want to be on autopilot at my sewing machine for awhile.

Wish everyone a safe and peaceful Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 10, 2014

It's A Mystery - the Quilting Version

It is a total mystery to me where the time has flown since my last blog post - written in July!  I have been busy - mostly on a Mystery Quilt for my quilt guild - Cobblestone Quilters.  I was in charge of our Quilter's Day Out program this year and put together three Saturday workshops.  The first,  an I-Spy baby quilt (no picture as it is not done and is a baby gift - for a little boy who will be going to college before I get it quilted), the second, a Bargello Christmas wall hanging

and the third, a mystery. 

I loosely based the design of the quilt on the short story written by Edgar Allen Poe - The Gold Bug.  Poe spent time here in the Lowcountry as a soldier and this story is set in the area.  The quilt clues where issued starting in May and just wrapped up.  I not only made the quilt out of yardage - as I wrote the clues for

 but I also made a scrappy version.

The blocks I used were Jewel Box, a version of Diamond Bar, and Double Cross.  The "Gold Bug" is the butterfly in the center of the quilt and the baskets are part of the logo for our guild.  All of the clues are available on the guilds website under the guild activities - Quilter's Day Out.

During the past month's I also taught several classes, finished a quilt for my 
Mother-in-law's birthday, knitted a ton and traveled to England for the first time in 10 years.

The only thing I didn't do was keep up my blog.      

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Dreaming of Snowflakes

Yesterday was very hot and humid in Charleston until a strong cold front roared by in the late afternoon.  I am ready for fall and cooler weather.

I recently finished a sample quilt for Stitch n' Sew using Kate Spain's Solstice fabric line and a pattern from Moda Candy Oh Sew Sweet! booklet.

I don't usually do quilts for other peoples patterns - but we wanted to highlight this great non-traditional Christmas line.  I used some of the snowflakes in the fabric to come up with the quilting designs in the large off-white square.

The snowflakes were easy to mark and each one was sewn with one pass.  I am definitely using these motifs again.

The quilt is at the shop now - but when I get it back I will probable add some filler quilting between my snowflakes so they are a little more defined.

Now if it would only snow in Charleston (or at least be below 90 degrees for a high)!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

I'm a Quilter not a Knitter . . .

So why do I have eight projects on needles at the moment?

A pair of toe up socks which have been frogged once and are the oldest project in the group as they where started last summer.  I think I prefer to start my socks from the top and after I finished this pair (and I will finish them as I love the yarn) I will start from the top in the future.

The knitters in my family are doing a KAL this year - the green yarn in front.  I have almost finished Adrienne's Anime Amble - the third pattern in the series.  Instead of doing a scarf (not very useful in Charleston) I am doing  the 5 Way Shawl .  Of course that means double the number of stitches and I need to knit a few more rows of every pattern to achieve the proper length - so it takes a little bit of time to do each pattern.

The red scarf is from yarn that was to be a sweater (what was I thinking!) and will be given to heart patient when completed.  It is fairly far along and is a good pattern to do while watching movies - as long as I don't get too involved in the plot.

Three are for gifts - and that is all I will say about them.

The last two are for me - one is Colourwheel Cowl by Susan Ashcroft and the other is Sleeves by Martina Behm.  Sleeves is the newest as it was cast on yesterday - I think I might be developing an addiction.

On the quilting front - remember I am a Quilter - I finished the last of a series of baby quilts for my sister-in-laws mother as well as teaching both at our local shop and guild.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


I love Daylilies - even though each bloom is around only for a day - they make me smile. I have most of my Daylilies on the porch as the deer in my area like to munch them just before they bloom.  This year is a bumper crop.

Around 6 am
Starting to open at 7 am

At 8 they are showing promise

The view from nine until dusk
By the next morning the blooms are faded, but the delightful thing is there are more blooms and another morning to look forward to.

I used this particular variety as the inspiration for this small quilt I will be using to teach fusible applique and simple straight line quilting this summer at Stitch n' Sew.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Why You Don't Knit When You are Tired

I have made significant process on my One Ball Gradient Shawlette by Karen Vradelis.

In fact I hope to finish it tonight.  Our weather has been warm (the 80's most of the weekend) and we have a cool front (hard to call it a cold front when we will still be in the 60's) headed our way this week.  I would like one chance to wear this before it is packed away until late fall.

I would have finished it sooner but some how I managed to knit the wrong way in the middle of a row.

So instead of stockinette I ended up with a half of a row of garter stitch! This is why you don't knit when you are tired.

We had a few visitors to the backyard recently - 

You can only see six in the picture - but there were eight in total.  They were doing a great job of trimming behind the fence.  Unfortunately they often trim inside the fence as well - so my gardening is contained in pots, which were moved from under the house to the porch this weekend (a major undertaking).

I am working on several quilting projects - a mystery quilt for my guild, a charity quilt from blocks I won, and several projects for classes - none of which are very photogenic at this point.

Friday, April 4, 2014

A Little Knitting

I am sort of taking a short break from quilting - I have several classes going on at the moment and most of my sewing is related to samples for those classes.  Not the most exciting photos - especially since I use old and mismatch fabric to do my class samples.  Helps to keep me from drowning in the stuff.

I am working on a very easy, quick knitting project using yarn I purchased at the frayed knot (a great little store) in Savannah, Georgia where I spent last weekend with my sisters and daughter.  We had a wonderful time - walking, knitting, eating and visiting the Destination Savannah quilt show where my quilt Bloom was on display.

The yarn I am using is Souk by Cascade Yarns

and the pattern is One Ball Gradient Shawlette by Karen Vradelis.  

It is a very easy pattern - the only change I made was to slip the first stitch purl wise on all odd rows to make a slightly neater edge.

I was working on another small knitting project (Downtown Cowl by Christy Becker)- but it has disappeared into the black hole in my house.  I worked on it Sunday after we returned home - cleared it off the table to serve dinner - and haven't seen it since!  Not for the lack of looking.  

Of course I will finish the shawlette and find the cowl just in time for hot weather to arrive in Charleston!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I Spy A Quilter - or Two

Last Saturday, in honor of National Quilting Day, my guild had a Quilter's Day Out workshop.  I designed an easy I-Spy quilt using partial seams and half-blocks to eliminate matching seams.

We had about a dozen quilters sewing away.

Lots of blocks were made: 

Petal to the metal!

(notice the shoes are off - a quilter after my own heart as I almost always sew barefoot) :

A great time was had by all.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Lessons Learned

The 2014 Cobblestone Quilt Show has come and gone and although I got all my quilts finished and to the show, I didn't not win any ribbons.  Hopefully I did learn a few lessons from the experience.

Our show allows for quilts to be entered that aren't quite finished.  The show entry is early in January and the quilts were due at the beginning of last week,  or about 46 days to finish final details.  This does not mean that you should enter four quilts that are not yet quilted - especially when one is a queen size quilt!
Indigo Quilt in A Box

This became the bane of my existence.  The blocks where all quilted by the end of January and then I struggled getting them sewn together.  If I had more time, this process could have been done better and some of the quilting issues I experienced when quilting the sashing could have been avoided.  Also the weekend I put the border on was not pleasant as I made every rookie mistake possible.  But it is done. I really do not have the proper work-space or lighting to handle such a large quilt and it will be a long time (maybe forever) before I work on such a large piece again.

The second quilt, Marsh Isle One, actually had some quilting done - but I was very unhappy with the direction it was going.  The design was too busy for an already busy background and the tension was awful. So not only did I quilt this quilt in the above mentioned 46 days - but removed all the previous quilting as well.
Marsh Isle One
I am pretty pleased with the outcome - although I could have used a little more time to block it properly. I might add another cattail flower to balance the piece a bit.  I like the work I did on the egret's feathers.  This is the first in a series on the marsh I get to see outside everyday.

Number three quilt is the whole cloth, Bloom.

Bloom is entered in another quilt show and I will work on re-blocking and straightening the edges before it is shipped out.  Again I am pleased with the quilting - just not the final finish work.

And as Monty Python would say - and now for something completely different:

Dancing Off the Wall

I challenged myself to create a 3-D piece that could hang from a regular sleeve.  All the fabric is my own hand dyed.  I struggled with the final construction as the piece is top heavy and wants to fall forward.  I was working on a solution when I simple ran out of time.  The three pieces at the top are more blue than white - but this was the best photo I managed to take at the show.  This is a concept that will be revisited in a future work.

In addition to the four show quilts, I also finished three baby quilts, made a top for an upcoming class and finished the work on my first two patterns that debuted at the show.  As this is getting long I will show them next post.

Major lessons - don't enter what isn't finished and allow plenty of time for the final details!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Summer - At Least in My Studio

Charleston is once again thawing out of an ice storm - twice in two weeks is just too weird.  Although I grew up in Colorado, I have lived in the South for nearly 30 years so I think my blood has thinned.  I don't really like cold weather anymore!

For two days I sweated as the lights flickered (I have way too much sewing machine work to do to be without power) but we were lucky and had light and heat the entire time.  Friends nearby weren't as fortunate.

I worked on Bloom as the icy rain fell.  In my last post I estimated about 2 hours to finish the flower - was I way off.  It took nearly 2 hours just to pull the threads from all the stops and starts!  I probably have closer to 3 days of stitching.

Once again I struggled with the marking of the background of the quilt.  Finding a marking pen that I can see and that will come out easily is becoming like a Holy Grail search.  Any ideas?

I still need to put on the facing, sleeve and label and need to decide if any of the centers need beading but I am pretty satisfied.

Once again I am linking to Nina~Marie Sayre's Off the Wall Friday to show my progress.