Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve Reflections

This Christmas present tee shirt from Felix really sums up my attention span!!!

Our big present from my niece was a trip to the Christa McAulliff Planetarium which is now called the Discovery Center. It was great fun! I even learned how to find the constellations, "Little Dog", and "Big Dog" by siting off to the left of Orion's belt.
We also enjoyed a family Christmas visit over to my sister Suzanne's house in Wolfeboro. She has just gotten an electric fireplace heater and it looks so nice and adds heat to the room, too.
We enjoyed lots of little Christmas presents and Suzanne loved the pillowcase that I'd saved just for her. She is quite the organic gardener so the pillowcase has all the names of the herbs on it.

So my family time did get me away from the Orca Bay mystery quilt. I am almost finished with Step 6, but I have a few more blocks to do. The neatly pressed piles of black stars and white stars keeps growing.
Usually, I just blindly follow along with Bonnie's steps and do not even try to guess where it will go. But now it is Step 7 and Step 8 is due out tomorrow morning for New Years Day.
If I'm gonna make a guess, I'd better do it now! LOL! So here's what seems to fit as units that we've done so far. I only had made 3 of the big geese units but you can get the idea of how a big block might look. Who knows? Bonnie may have more surprises for us yet!

New Year's Eve is a very special anniversary of my letting go of smoking and living tobacco-free. It has given me the gift of time and wanting to do something with my hands, which became quilting. Without Chantix, and a lot of support from the folks over at the chat room, I never would have made it. Life is so much better now that it has been three years of living free. Maybe my points aren't perfect on my stars, but I'm not smoking and I'm not missing or wanting cigarettes any more. After 2 packs a day for 43 years, I love the new me!
I'm also proud of having done much better this year at keeping up with Bonnie's steps! Last year, I only finished the top with the pieced borders of Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll by mid April.

The year before that, it took 13 months to complete Yankee Christmas.

Can it be that, at 62 years old, I am finally developing the self-discipline to finish what I start? WoooHooo!!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I've enjoyed several days of Christmas visiting, writing cards, baking cookies, wrapping gifts and attending our Gilmanton Community Church candlelight Christmas service. Felix roasted a huge turkey dinner that was marvelous. Even the weather gave us merry little snowflakes.
By the way, I WAS finally able to finish up the 700 wing triangles on step 5 of the Orca Bay mystery quilt and got started on step 6. I'm kinda running in the middle of the pack; not a super speedy finisher but not quite yet a turtle either.

What was fun for me was cutting up the red 2 1/2" squares for step 6. I got to break into my swap strips for that and the fabrics were so lovely that I risked becoming distracted just by mooning over them. But I picked one packet and CUT!
I made about a dozen of the positive and negative Ohio Stars in total and was very pleased at how they look. But my Quarter Square Triangles sure do need that sliver trimming on each side, so it builds slowly.

The one block that I did in the blacks that were just purchased from Keepsake had a very Christmasy look, dontcha think?
My favorite quilting Christmas present this year was one of Bonnie's earlier books that has Virginia Bound in it because that's on my bucket list. Thank you, dear Felix!

Matthew took the picture for me to be able to show you. Thank you, Matthew!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Fun With Fabric

I enjoyed yesterday and today just goofing around on little last minute Christmas crafts really only using the Orca Bay step 5 triangles as leaders/enders. I have 140 done and need to get back to it. Here's the fun Christmas pillowcase that I made for John Abraham, (Matthew's father) who resides in a local nursing home. I showed it to Matthew, who loved it and was so glad that I'd made it for his Dad.

Technically, the red fabric is a Valentine's Day leftover from a couple of year's back at Walmart. The color was so perfect that I just laughed and used it! If you are interested in making some of these, my tutorial is in the archive under, "Pillowcases Galore."

Then I drove for an hour and a quarter to my niece's house to sneak presents under her tree because I thought she was at work as a police dispatcher. Alas, she was asleep and I woke her! Those swing shifts are murder on her, but I left the presents and hurried away without even a cup of tea to allow her to go back to sleep.
Then I was very very naughty! She lives right near Keepsake Quilting's mothership shop. I could NOT resist!There was a Moda black floral that called to me, "Victoria, Victoria. You know you want me!"

The other fabrics were from the sale room and the aqua yarn-dyed homespun was only $3.99 per yard!
Did you notice the fabric ribbon that Keepsake always ties their purchase bags closed with? It is a lovely Christmas fabric of bright red cardinals sitting in misletoe berries. It so inspired me! As soon as I got home, I set to making sweet little sachets using that and some of my leftover strings from Orca Bay.

I also dug around in their scrap bins to find some wonderful blacks for when I get right back to those triangles. The 16th of a yard scraps are a quarter apiece and I got ten! Whee! The final damage for the whole binge was $40.84, not too bad!
Here is my Orca Bay progress:
140 made and too many to go! LOL!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Wing Triangles

Bright sun but colder and windy today, but warm enough to prewash a few nice homespuns for the upcoming strip swaps in Nickelswap. I recently saw a great looking quilt made from homespuns in a random basket weave pattern. Still thinking about whether or not that's what I'd like to do with my large collection of homespun.

I puttered along on the 350 units for Step 5 of Orca Bay. Now I'm up to 80 done and while I'm pleased with my progress, I feel like I'd better pick up the pace to be done before Friday's next clue.

This was the second fat quarter of that silly Thanksgiving black background print that I just found so I'm using it. I think that it came from the shop at Keepsake Quilting's April sale on FQ's for $1 each if you buy 20 of them.
Here are today's and yesterday's work all together:

The red cherries on the deep black background fabric was a find. It's Mary Englebreit designed for Cranston and although Cranston is usually very thin cotton, this felt beefier and nice quality. So I bought it at Wal-Mart clearance and paid like $3.50 for the yard. I love bargains, don't you?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Sewing On An Empty Stomach

On this lovely sunny but blustery morning, I raced downstairs to my Quilt Cave as soon as I had read Bonnie's Step 5 of the Orca Bay mystery. I am very happy to also report that yesterday I DID finish pulling all the papers off the 128 red string triangles for Step 4. So they are done and I am working on the current step.
I found a couple of 2" black strips that I had been using for the stepping stones on a Bricks & Stepping Stones quilt last year and just decided to use them up. Geez, I need 700! Well, ya gotta start somewhere, right?

So I got about 120 cut out of the strips. But by this time, I was powerful hungry with no breakfast! Fortunately, Felix was upstairs in the kitchen rustling up some cheesy & sausage & egg omelet with English muffins.
I kept going and began to sew the little wing triangles onto the Half Square Triangles. But I had forgotten that for the paper foundations on the string blocks, my machine was set for about 17 stitches per inch, really close!
When I looked at the first two seams that I had stitched, I realized that the triangles were oriented the WRONG WAY!!!! Sigh. Then it was so tough to undo those close stitches.
Here is the wrong one before I undid it:
Then I reset my stitch length and laid out the pieces in front of me so that I couldn't goof it up again.

I got about 5 of the units completed and was very glad that they are measuring up correctly at 3 1/2" on the dogeared side. Then my hero, Felix called up to come upstairs for breakfast, and boy, howdy, I was ready!

Before I close this post, I'd like to pass along a little tip at Christmas time. Instead of placing my too-skinny-to-sew square-up strings in the petbed stuffing basket, I used them as a quaint-looking ribbon on packages. I love the homey touch that it gives, and the simple bow is easier to tie than curling ribbon.

Matthew & Raven are ready for their breakfasts, too!
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