Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Monday was our 61st anniversary and it was a beautiful day, for NE Ohio winter. Though it was cold and a bit windy, the sun was out and the sky was blue. We didn't do any big celebrating but we decided to get out of the house and go to a couple of our favorite places to walk around before we headed out to dinner.
We usually visit the Holden Arboretum several times a week in the summer and walk around the pond and count the frogs. The first thing we saw as we got out of the car were little yellow flowers, Winter Aconite, poking up out of the ground, Wow, that and the clear blue sky can sure do a lot to create a cheerful outlook.

Everything looks different in the winter. In the summer this pond is surrounded by blooming plants and along the edges of the pond there are lily pads and frogs., Sometimes we see a snake or two in the water but no frogs or snakes on Monday, just ice and snow around the edge.
After we left the arboretum we stopped at Penitentiary Glen, one of the Lake Metroparks, and watched the birds and chipmunks for a while from inside the building. There is a nice viewing area where you can sit and watch. This used to be a regular stop on Tuesdays a few years ago when we watched 2 of our great grand kids all day. We don't come here very often now but it is close to the arboretum so we stopped. 
It probably doesn't seem like a very exciting time but we were not really looking for excitement. It was just a nice time putting aside our separate interests and together doing something simple that we enjoy. It is nice knowing that after 61 years we still love each other and we are still best friends and and YES, we would do it all over again.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Basement fun etc.

Saturday was our Basement Divas meeting; as usual it was a great time together.
Once again I was the recipient of something made from my non serious donations to the Jellyroll Race prizes. On the left is the quilt that Suzie made with orphan blocks that I put together in a prize pack. On the right is a flimsy that Gwen made from a pack of all scrappy leftover Disappearing 9 Patch pieces. Gwen offered to finish it but I felt guilty letting her take her time to do that so I will finish it. I never expected anyone to finish something with my donations and return them to me but with this group you never know what will happen. It is all part of the fun. 
I  also received an almost full bottle of Bubble Jet set from Fran. She read my post about buying a bottle and emailed me not to buy it that she had some she would never use and it is mine free of charge. She said I could make her a square oven mitt in exchange. I think that is a great bargain.

I have five more scrappy trips blocks made and I have 5 more sets of strips arranged on trays and ready to make into blocks. There are 9 more up on the design wall (not shown here). If I make this square I only need 3 more blocks but if I make it a rectangle I need 9 more blocks. I guess it is time to make up my mind what I want to do with this. Maybe I should just make the 5 blocks and then put it away for a while and work on things I need to finish.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Another Heart

I have spent several  days on and off trying to get my printer to print in black. I  really liked this printer up until last week when it stopped printing black. Apparently this is a problem many people are having with their HP all in one printers. I have tried all the solutions put out there but still  no black printing. I guess the next step will be to have it serviced or buy a new printer. It will probably not be another HP as my last one lasted only a little over a year. I am just tired of the whole situation and I decided to give it a rest for now.
 I am almost never at a loss for something to get frustrated about so I turned my attention to finding the ingredients for some home made fixative solution  for printing on fabric. I have been looking for washing soda and finally found it and I mixed up my solution and soaked copy paper sized pieces of white fabric. While I have not been able to print black I have been able to print in color. I printed red hearts like the ones I sent to Spoonflower only a different  size.  Then I printed a couple of blue hearts. After waiting a day I rinsed the red ones and the color bled . It didn't all wash out and maybe it would not have redeposited if I had rinsed it longer.

 I decided that I would not rinse or wash the blue heart and I just went ahead and made something with it. This is 12 inches square and I used the left over fabric from my retreat project. I stitched over all the continuous lines and ended up feeling like I was almost blind.  I should have waited until tomorrow to finish up when I could do it in better light. There is a little quilting to do around the borders and then I will bind it.

If I want a large number of the same one or two  motifs I would order from Spoonflower again. But there are several reasons that I might want to print one of my zentangle inspired pieces from time to time instead of drawing on the fabric. I also like to print the labels for my quilts. I guess I will print a few more test pieces since I have the fabric treated but I think I will just buy a bottle of Bubble Jet Set. The last bottle I had lasted a long time.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

8 Blocks

I have 8 Scrappy Trip around the World blocks. Once I sat down to finish them they were done in no time. I am going to make this 4 x 6 blocks that means I have 16 more blocks to make.

I will need to get more fabric before I can do anything more. In fact I am at a place where I need to shop before I can proceed with anything. I need backing for 3 quilts and batting for 2 and that doesn't include this one which won't need backing or batting for a while as this one will be last in line to finish. It is good to have time to think about what I want to do. I like this palette and now that I have 8 blocks I can see how it will look if I go ahead and make the blocks with the colors in the same order in all or most of the blocks. It like it better now and it doesn't seem so tedious maybe that is because I have enough made to have a better idea of how it will look.



Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Finish

I finished one small thing this week,
this 25 inch square table topper. The center block is the Circle of Geese" Paper pieced block that we learned last week at our retreat. I was relieved when it all came together nicely with the Birds in the Air blocks I made a couple of weeks ago.

Most of the quilting is in the ditch with come echo type quilting in the center and straight lines in the birds and the air blocks where the non pieced side of the blocks comes together to make rows.
I backed it with a piece of fabric I cut from a cotton sheet. I have been rethinking my ideas about using sheets for backing. They are good quality cotton and they come in a variety of colors and prints. I see no reason to back something with $10 -$12 quilting fabric if it will hang on the wall or is meant to lay on a table with the back side down and not seen.

I am not making much progress on my Scrappy Trip around the World blocks. I am not sure why I am finding them tedious. It could be that I know I am stealing time from what needs to be done. 

When I get to this stage I begin to question my choices. this looks insipid to me. That second row from the bottom is a pale yellow green not yellow.

Once I get the block finished it has all come together much better.
I have only 4 finished blocks but I have 4 more that I have sewed in strips and sliced and unstitched and rearranged and ready to sew into blocks.

I think the sewing all the blocks in the same color order of blue,yellow, orange, yellow, green,  yellow, was a mistake. It is too predictable I am gong to mix it up a little more. I will still keep the long diagonal line in the blue color family,(blue, blue green, purple etc) and at least 2 yellow strips.  I think I will order some fat quarters to mix it up some more. I like a little surprise and even though I have a pretty good idea what the fabrics look like when I see them "in person" they are always a bit different.
Maybe tomorrow I will have my 8 finished  blocks to show.
Maybe not
Maybe I will have more.
We'll see!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Trying Something New

I had been thinking for a while that I would like to order custom printed fabric from Spoonflower. I had in mind that I would like to use some of my zentangle inspired designs and have them printed so I could do something with them without having to draw a each and every one of them. What I had in mind was some of my heart designs for valentines. I scanned some of my drawings and fiddled with them in Picasa.
I drew them with a black Pigma pen and a Sharpie ultra fine point pen. In Picasa I was able to change the black to red. I was not able to do what I wanted in Picasa so I downloaded PaintNet and I was able to manipulate my images. I finally got it the way I thought would work and this image on the left is what I uploaded to Spoonflower. I could have ordered a quarter yard test piece but I went with the whole yard instead of having to order twice.
In just a few days this is what came in the mail. I want to say that I am happy with the quality and the service. the color was uniform throughout and not yellow at the sides which is the result of my photography. I couldn't take another shot because i had already cut it all up into squares and  ovals.
There were, however, some problems with my own design. I did not space my motifs far enough apart and I spent a week and a half trying to figure out how I could cut the large motifs so I could use all of them. In the end I cut ovals and squares and I was able to cut squares of the small hearts  as well. I should have skipped the small hearts in my design as they are a bit small and fussy and not really suitable for what I wanted to do. I ran out of time because after I cut all the ovals and squares  it took me too long to figure out how to use them for what I wanted.
I did get a few valentines made after all and I sent one to my daughter and one to a friend before thinking that I wanted  photos. They were a little different than these below which is what I finally settled on.
I quilted it by stitching over some of the long lines with red thread and I colored in some of the little hearts with a red colored pencil to make them pink. I fused the heart ovals and squares to white fabric so there would be no color or print showing through and then I fused the white squares and ovals to a pice of hot pink after I trimmed them with a pinking blade. I fused the whole thing to fusible batting and quilted it with red thread. after I pulled all my thread ends to the back and tied them and burried the tails in the batting I fused a piece of backing fabric to the back and stitched around the outside  of the white and a quarter inch along the outside edge. I trimmed the outside edges with a pinking blade to finish.
Next time I will know what I want and how to do it (well, maybe).
There will be a next time but I am going to do some homework first.
I need to learn more about photo editing and maybe spend some time on Jack's computer (gasp) to see if I want to buy Photo shop. It came installed in his new computer and I am sure it is an abbreviated version but it will give me some idea about whether it is going to be any better for what I want than PrintNet, which was free.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Friday and Saturday Retreat

Well our group from church didn't go out of town and we went home on Friday night to sleep in our own beds but we got together Friday evening for a pot luck dinner and then a paperpiecing lesson and we came back on Saturday to polish up our new skill. Everyone in our church group was there and some of us brought along a few friends. There were 15 of us when everyone was there.
We had a long distance member come to visit us on Saturday, Jamie, shown here with the big smile is a new bride. She got married last month on our quilt meeting day. We came in the morning to our meeting and then at the appointed time were walked down the hall to the sanctuary and went to the wedding ceremony and afterward to the Cupcake reception. Jamie came this weekend from New Jersey. Somehow they missed most of the bad weather and she made good progress on her rail fence quilt.
Most of these photos were taken late in the day on Saturday several of the ladies had already left. I was working diligently to finished my Circle of Geese and didn't realize some people were leaving until they were packed and ready to go so no photos of their projects. I see only one block that isn't finished here and she was soon to be finished. Some ladies had started a second block or some border blocks. Beth,in the top right of the photo below was quilting hers.

Everyone seems to have and idea or a plan for what they will do with their blocks and there was a long of enthusiasm.

I am not fast; I might be faster if I taped my mouth closed. My own personal  goal was to finish my Circle of Geese block and I would have been happy with that. However, I finished my block and I had enough time to add my Birds in the Air border blocks that I had made a week or 12 days ago. I think this top is finished and ready to layer and quilt. It is about 24 inches square and that is a good table topper size.
Mine does not have the  bold graphic look than most of the others have and is reminiscent of many of my quilts that I did during my color wash period.
I expect to see some finishes at our meeting next month so keep watching for them.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A little surprise and a little playtime

Yesterday I went to our Friendship (block exchange) group and I received a little surprise.

This is the front and back of the 21 x 18 little quilt that Jan made for me from a "Notso" Pack that she won last year at the Diva Jellyroll Race. I had put together several packs of fabric for the prizes last year when I was decluttering and this was from a not so charming pack of 5 inch squares.

She said it is made from all the fabrics in the pack. I think maybe she added the dotted fabric on the back but maybe she was "lucky" enough to win a second pack of odd pieces. I love it and it is going to occupy a space on my sewing room wall.

I did a little more playing this morning and finished 2 more blocks. After I made the first one yesterday I couldn't wait to see if I really did like the way it was going or if the one block was the only one that I would like. I like it. I didn't plan for the placement of anything except the purple and blue green fabrics and I am sure that the rest of the blocks are not going to fall together in the same way with the yellow and orange lining up and I am not sure what my final layout will be. It might be "Many Trips Around". I think that decision is a long time away. For now, I will keep the strips handy and play a little when I have steal time from something I should be doing instead.

Now I really have to get busy and do what I need to do, starting with the laundry I didn't do yesterday after all.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Little Playtime

I spent the last 5 days fiddling around with something that I can't show yet and it is taking a lot more time and making a much bigger mess than I had anticipated. I keep trying to get ahead of the messiness but to no avail. I finally put it aside for now.
I really have no business starting something right now as I have things I need to finish up and a deadline coming up fast. Our group at church is having a two day "retreat" Friday evening and all day Saturday. I have my own things to get ready for that; thankfully, I got the things done ahead of time for the group.

Well anyway, to get back to the matter at hand, I had decided to Quilt Along With Melody   this month and here it was February 5 and I had nothing started. I cut some 2 1/2 inch strips yesterday and about an hour ago I made one block.
These are a few of the strips that I cut. At first I cut oranges and yellows, I have a lot more than you see here. I thought I needed something more so I added a few other colors. I had halfway planned to have a citrus palette but I soon saw that I did not have enough citrus colored fabrics and I started adding others. I  have a lot of older 2 1/2 inch strips that don't work  too well with a nice bright group of fabrics and I am not going to use them for this. I need to play with something more cheerful this time of year. I am leaving out anything mostly black, brown, or dark and grayed colors.

So here is my one block. I may not get another one done till after the weekend but my outlook has brightened up for having played for an hour.

Now to do some, laundry, some cleaning up and looking ahead to dinner. I might even go out after dinner to see some of my playmates if things work out.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Moving along

I finally made a decision about the border on the Bricks and Stepping Stones quilt.

 I found a fabric with a black background and multicolored dots. It really does have every color in it that is in the quilt. I would have like bigger dots or something like matchsticks but time is running out to get this top finished and layered and quilted. I put the narrow Kona Bone border on yesterday and I am ready to sew the dotty border.

I am going to sew along with Melody Johnson in February again this year. She is suggesting Bonnie Hunters Scrappy Trip Around the World. With QAWM there are no rules only ideas and inspiration. I joined Melody in 2010 for QAWM and my goal was to use up my stash of floral fabrics. I made 2 quilts here and here and some small stuff and it was a start to using up my florals. Today I have only a few large pieces but a lot of scraps. I am still drawn to floral fabrics and in some ways I felt sad to see the last of some of my favorite pieces but the truth is if it has been around a long time it doesn't fit in with newer fabric and it loses some of its appeal. If it is in a quilt the appeal is still  there.  I used up some of those fabrics at just the right time!
 QAWM was the thing that got me started blogging. I have some things I am working on that are nearing completion; this is going to give me something to do next instead of wasting my time wondering what my next project will  be.