Saturday, May 27, 2017

Marathon Sewing -- or, Will It Never End?

I know I will love this quilt when it is finished but just now it feels like I will never finish sewing the pieces together.  The little 4" blocks are finished but now they are waiting to be sewn into blocks of four, with sashing.


I needed 32 more blocks to go around the edges:  128 little 4" blocks and 128 pieces of coral "sashing," plus 32 little red squares.  All the pieces are cut and a few are sewn together.


The process is to stitch a coral strip to the side of each square, then to the opposite side; and to each side of a red square.  Then press, pin, and sew the coral/red strips to the squares.  Sew, sew, sew.


I know they will eventually be finished but it's beginning to feel like a marathon -- one that's like a treadmill with no end in sight. 

Do you ever feel like you're just ready for a quilt to be done?  (Or maybe I should say Done with a capital D.)  Do you rush through to finish, plod on, or lay it aside for a while?  If you rush through do you ever take shortcuts or make choices that are less than the best for the quilt? 

I don't want to shortchange this quilt, but boy am I ever ready to start something new!

--Nancy.
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Friday, May 26, 2017

Lavender Love

cut lavender stems and flowers

I cut the stems of two little lavender plants this morning.  Their fragrance fills the rooms of our home and it smells heavenly.  I love all lavender but the flowers of this particular plant are luscious.  They smell more beautiful, cleaner, and fresher than any I've grown before.  I wish you could smell them, too. 

I almost missed harvesting them.  It rained yesterday and it must be dry to cut lavender.  Thank goodness the sun was out this morning.  If I hadn't cut the stems this morning the buds would have opened by tomorrow.  When harvested after the flowers open they fall off the stems and are less fragrant after drying.

lavender bouquets, lavender baskets

I stripped the leaves and sorted the stems by length.  I was able to make five small bouquets to dry and two little lavender baskets.  The baskets are shorties, just 4" long, the smallest I've ever made.  I should have used narrower ribbon but I didn't have any.

lavender plant

Lavender season comes upon me all of a sudden.  I see the plants as I pass them coming and going in and out of the driveway but they don't seem to give much notice that they'll be ready to be harvested.  (Or maybe I don't pay close enough attention.)  It seems that overnight they turn from green to purple and then I have to put aside everything else and take care of them.  It creates a rush that belies the calmness lavender creates when one is preparing the stems for drying.

honeysuckle vines and flowers

When I was cutting the lavender this morning there was another fragrance that was even stronger:  the honeysuckle that grows behind the lavender.  Its fragrance is sweet and strong.  They are unruly plants but I love them, too, and sometimes cut the flowers and vines and bring them inside.  Like lavender, their fragrance fills our home.

When people ask what my favorite flowers are I tell them lavender, honeysuckle, and lilac, all for the fragrance, plus columbine.  Not your common favorites, I guess.

Do you grow lavender and/or honeysuckle?  Do you love the fragrance of either or both?  Do you have a favorite flower because of its fragrance?

--Nancy.
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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Bumfitt

lamb at Slate Run Farm lambs at Slate Run Farm sheep at Slate Run Farm Many years ago I was a spinner, natural dyer, and weaver.  Spinning was a gentle, relaxing activity.  At that time I was able to buy a whole, raw fleece or buy roving, which I didn't enjoy spinning.  After my daughters were born a whole fleece was just too much to deal with and I laid aside both spinning and weaving. 

I love sheep -- or maybe it's the idea of sheep and what they give us  that I love.  I've never personally known a sheep and had only a passing acquaintance with them at fairs, farms, or living history sites.  But they look so sweet and most give such wonderful wool.  I love burying my nose in the fleece of a freshly shorn sheep.  A little bit of heaven.

My daughter and her husband have sheep on their farm.  Their little flock is growing, especially after many lambs were born this spring.

lamb at Slate Run FarmThis reason for this post is to share this bit of fun information.  Not long ago I learned that there are alternative numbering systems for counting sheep which seem to have originated in various parts of the rural sheep country of England. 

One variation goes like this:
 1  Yain
 2  Tain
 3  Eddero
 4  Pederro
 5  Pitts
 6  Tayter
 7  Layter
 8  Overro
 9  Coverro
10  Dix
11  Yain-dix
12  Tain-dix
13  Eddero-dix
14  Peddero-dix
15  Bumfitt
16  Yain-o-bumfitt
17  Tain-o-bumfitt
18  Eddero-o-bumfitt
19  Peddero-o-bumfitt
20  Jiggit

Can't sleep, you say?  Imagine counting sheep with the English shepherd's version:  yain, tain, eddero, peddero, pitts....  Perhaps I would chuckle my way to sleep or fall asleep trying to remember the numbers.  We have it easy with our English numbers, don't you think?

And now I'll tell you how many lambs my daughter's sheep had this spring:  bumfitt.  Or maybe there were only tain-dix lambs.  I lost count.

This is a Really Random Thursday post.

--Nancy.
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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

A Stash Roll for Me


A dozen beautiful 1800s reproduction fabrics arrived in my mailbox yesterday.  They are really just too beautiful to use.  I think I'll admire them for a while.

They were sent from TWOthimbles quilt shop but they came from Lori of Humble Quilts.  She recently reached 1000 members on her Humble Quilts facebook page -- isn't that grand?! -- and chose one person who left a comment to receive this bundle.  And it was me!

This collection is called a stash roll and is made of 12 different 6" width-of-fabric strips.  TWOthimbles was selling them when Lori posted about them but after receiving this package I went to their website thinking maybe I should buy another one.  But, alas, they were sold out.  I have the impression that stash rolls are items they occasionally carry.  I'll have to check their website now and then to see if I can catch them in stock.

What's so exciting about these fabrics is that I've never seen them, or any like them, at my local fabric store.  It reminds me of how very limited the local selection is.

Thank you for this great bundle of fabrics, Lori.  I will enjoy them.

--Nancy.
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Reinforcements


Aren't these great light, natural fabrics?  A week or two ago I mentioned that I was running out of light scraps for a scrap quilt I'm working on.  Susan of Desert Sky Quilting offered to send me some of her scraps.  I hesitated to accept:  I'm generally a self-reliant person but I'm committed to this quilt being a scrap quilt made of real, honest-to-goodness scraps, don't have enough of my own, and finally said yes.  The reinforcements arrived in the mail this afternoon.  Perfect!  

Thank you for your generosity, Susan.  You're wonderful!

With the few light scraps I have left and the ones Susan sent I think I'll have enough to finish sewing the blocks I need.  The fabric in the ones below look creamier than the fabrics above but there are lighter ones not shown in the photograph and the reinforcements will work in just fine.  I'm grateful to have them.


In fact, some of the pieces Susan sent are large enough to make 4" blocks and I might just cut them to size.  No need to waste fabric on seams, huh?

Thank you again, Susan.  I appreciate your thoughtfulness and the fabric you sent.  It will be perfect!

--Nancy.
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Friday, May 12, 2017

Albino Crow, Strong West Wind

As I was creating this block the flowers wanted to lean right and I imagined a strong west wind pushing against their stems.  And then the crow wanted to face the wind instead of having his feathers ruffled and blown backward.  It's funny how parts of a quilt block will insist.  (Sorry for the poor photo.  We had a few sunny days but the block wasn't finished.  Now it's grey again.)
Cheri Payne Baskets of Plenty Block 4

Things always take longer than I expect they will.  I thought about this Cheri Payne Baskets of Plenty block for several weeks and then a few days before I knew Cheri would post the next one (which is the 10th or 11th of the month), I began cutting fabric, playing with placement, cutting more and/or different fabric, rearranging pieces, etc., thinking I would finish it in two or three days!  Not me.  Here it is nearly a week later and it's finally finished.  The new block has been available for several days:  I think I'll start on it tomorrow.

When I look at primitive quilts I often see muted colors.  I love the look but I can't seem to create it myself.  Most of my fabrics are either bright or dark/dull with few muted colors among them. 


I seem to have the inability to choose all fabric for a block/quilt before I begin cutting.  I gather fabrics but then when I cut one element I reconsider all the other fabrics for the other parts.  So every element gets several auditions and they are sometimes cut and partially stitched before I change my mind.  Sometimes I think I have impaired artistic vision.
  
About the albino crow.  I auditioned all three of the crows in the photo above but none seemed just right.  I thought about black but knew it would disappear against the brown basket.  Are there albino crows, I wondered.  Yes, there are photos online and they are beautiful.  So that's how this crow came to be on this block.  Does that albino crow look "primitive" to you?

This block, with its plain muslin background fabric, brought to my attention how much the addition of Cheri's tea/coffee dying impacts the overall appearance of primitive blocks and quilts.  I won't use tea/coffee because it washes out and I want this quilt to be washable and usable when it's finished.  (What is it with stains?  When we want them to wash out, they are stubbornly resistant.  If we want them to stay they're gone after the first wash.)  Walnut hulls will make a similar dye which, in my experience, is permanent.  I'll collect some hulls in late summer/early fall before the rain leaches the dye out of them, make a dyepot full, and use it the same way Cheri uses her tea/coffee dye.  Any extra will freeze for later use.

As always this has been a fun and challenging experience -- so many options, so many fabrics!  And, as always, the variety of blocks made from the same elements is amazing and such fun to see.  If you're interested in participating and you have a facebook account, you can request to join Cheri's facebook page:  Quilts by Cheri ~ Friendship Group.  She continues to welcome new members.

I'm linking this post to
> Finished or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts
> finish it up Friday at crazy mom quilts 
> Can I Get a Whoop Whoop? at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
> Sew Stitch Snap SHARE #4 at Koka Quilts
Thanks for hosting, ladies.

--Nancy.
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Saturday, May 6, 2017

Quilting in the Dark

The sky has been thick with clouds for days.  The raindrops would glisten if there were the least ray of sunshine but it's been dark, dark, dark.  It's hard to see details on the greyest of days and turning on an electric light helps but not to see a fabric's true colors or how it will play with other fabrics.


I should not have waited until this week to choose fabrics for my Cheri Payne Baskets of Plenty block 4.


Colors in the photos below are somewhat close to accurate but none are the true colors.


This little basket will have a border of triangles along its top, hence the fabric strip.


There are three or four flower shapes, several leaves, and a bird for use in this block. 


Maybe it will be a star-shaped flower unless the star moves to the basket.  Right now it's all play -- elements, colors, fabrics, and placement of all the elements.  Anything's possible.


The sun came out today for a few minutes but I missed the chance to photograph.  Tomorrow's a day of rest but it looks like sunshine is predicted for Monday:  I won't have to quilt in the dark.  It'll be a good day to decide fabric and colors.

I hope you've had sunny days.

--Nancy.
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Friday, April 21, 2017

String Mismanagement

basket of fabric strings for quilting

When I began quilting in earnest a few years ago I had lots of long strips of leftover fabric -- strings.  I dumped them into a half-bushel basket, adding to the basket as more strings came along.  What was I thinking? 

This week I searched through every possible source of neutral scraps for my scrap squares, including that string basket.  What a mess!  I found a bunch of light strings but they were so crumpled I had to iron them.  They look much better.  They look usable, in fact.

fabric strings for quilting

And I've used some of those strings to make more 4" squares.


There are enough squares here to make 22 blocks (with 4 squares each) though they're not all from those strings.


Laid out in stacks of four, they look like this.


One of these days I'll have enough to make a quilt.  Right now they are leaders/enders for each other.  I match fabric pieces, pin, and lay a stack by the sewing machine.  It's easy to whip right through them.  Stitch, press, match, repeat.  And the stack grows.

Sometime in the last year or two I changed the way I manage strings.  I lay them flat, one on top of another, so I don't have to iron them before using them.  Of course, there's still that half-bushel basket of strings that need to be ironed.... 

How do you store strings?  If they are wrinkled, do you iron them before sewing them?  Just curious.

I haven't had much sewing time these past few weeks.  I've been helping organize a women's conference at church -- scheduled for tomorrow!  We're having 17 presenters and 20 workshops and there could be as many as 200 women attend.  My part has been contacting the presenters to get the titles and blurbs for their presentations, find out what their needs will be (copies, AV equipment, etc.), letting them know their rooms and presentation times, etc.  The organizer commented that every time she asked one of the women to present she felt like she was asking them to marry her.  I chuckled at that.  Then I began my part in the process and I felt like they'd all said yes -- to me!  I've sent and responded to countless emails.  I'm looking forward to clearing out my inbox in the next few days! 

I'm linking this post to
> Finished or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts
> Friday Night Sew-In at Sugarlane Designs
> I May Have a Scrap Problem at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Thank you for hosting, ladies.

--Nancy.
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