Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Ready to Square Dance

Carole (From My Carolina Home) is hosting another Quilt a Long (QAL), called Square Dance! She has hosted several mystery QALs, and I participated in 2017 to make American Two Step.

The clues are published once a month, so the pace is somewhat relaxed and manageable. Carole's clues are well written and easy to follow.
fabric cute and ready for clue #1
I decided to make Square Dance with the abundance of fabric I purchased for Tavern Blues. Over the weekend, I pulled the fabrics from my stash and cut the required pieces.

Want to join me in the Square Dance QAL?

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

On the Rails

On the Rails
table runner/wall hanging
17 x 44 inches
January UFO #2
On the Rails came together quickly once I decided to actually work on it.

The steam engine on this panel reminds me of the narrow gauge train trip that I made with Marilyn and her husband.
Silverton, CO
October 2017
I purchased the row by row kit (train panel and fabric for the two blocks) from Cotton Creek Mill in West Branch, IA after I saw it on Sara's blog.  The kit contained a generous amount of fabric for the blocks. The blocks and panel were framed with a black batik, and the outer panel was a red/black cotton from my stash. The runner/wall hanging will probably be bound with black or navy.

Both of my January UFOs are now FOs (finished objects).

Monday, January 29, 2018

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home
66 x 73 inches
QOV #132
January UFO #1
Marilyn and I decided to work on some UFOs in 2018, so we each made a list and decided to work on a specific number each month. Number two was selected for January.

Home Sweet Home started with a panel of three houses and three barns that I purchased over five years ago in Laramie, WY. The "cheater" fabric was purchased online from the same shop a year or two later. The three additional blocks were made from my scrap bins.

A length of green/red yardage in my stash will make a nice back for this quilt.

Home Sweet Home can be finally be crossed off of the UFO list.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Helpful Tools - Removable Markers

baby hat with removable stitch marker
January 2018
Removable stitch markers are very helpful. I use them in many ways: to indicate the right side of my knitting, to mark my progress in the knitting session, to show measurements (the green marker on this baby hat is at the 3 inch mark - I begin decreases at 4 inches), and to hold a dropped stitch until it can be repaired.

Over the years, I've used various stitch markers, but the removable ones are my favorite because they are so versatile.

Thursday, January 25, 2018


Parker, CO
Autumn 2017
Brenda sent me this photo a couple of months ago, and I forgot to post it. Notice the information is repeated on an additional sign in the background on the left. Obviously, they want their customers to know that FREE is free.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Slow UFO Progress

January UFO progress
January 2018
UFO progress has been slow the last week, but I did manage to get the rows sewn together and the first outer border attached.
auditioning ideas
I debated about what to do between the rows: I thought about using either bright yellow or muted yellow between the green cheater cloth. Marilyn and Brenda thought the muted yellow would work the best, and I agreed; however, I decided to move the muted yellow to a frame around the rows rather than in-between the rows.

The top has been on my design floor for a week, and I've decided to add another black border rather than introduce another color. The final border will be the green cheater cloth. Hopefully, this UFO will be completed by the end of January.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Stack of Warmth

seven baby/toddler hats
January 2018
Even though I've been busy with various activities, I've managed to sneak in some knitting in the evenings. I can usually knit one baby hat in an evening, so this stack of hats represents a week of knitting. The tan hats were knit on size 5 needles with double strands of sock yarn and 70 to 80 stitches, depending on the amount of yarn available. The multicolored yarn was the small skein I dyed at the Guild Spring Retreat in May.

This stack of baby/toddler hats will be sent to the Pine Ridge group.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Safety Behind the Wheel

Two mornings (Tuesday and Wednesday) last week, I took a Driver Safety class at the local senior center. The six hour class will result in a discount on my vehicle insurance for the next two years. I also attended the class in 2014 and 2016, and even though the material is the same, it's good to have a review. I always learn something new.

The local Chamber of Commerce provides instructors for the classes that are offered four times throughout the year. The program is scripted and videos supplement the course booklet. On the second day, a representative from WDOT usually comes to speak to the class about up-coming projects and changes in state law.

Driver's Education was taught when I was in high school many years ago, but most public schools today do not offer the program because it's difficult to find instructors. The knowledge and experience today's drivers receive before obtaining their licenses is minimal, at best.

According to data compiled in 2016 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 37,461 people were killed in 34,436 crashes, an average of 102 per day. The representative from WYDOT told the group, if an airplane crashed and killed over 100 people a day, the country would be outraged and demand change. Why do we allow this carnage on our highways year after year?

Personally, I think EVERY new driver should be required to take a driver's education course before being licensed. If the public schools cannot provide the course, then the insurance companies should take on the responsibility. I also think a refresher course should be required every five to ten years for every driver, regardless of age. What are your thoughts?

Friday, January 19, 2018

Greeting Visitors

Snow Pals sporting bright, new scarves
January 2018
The Christmas decorations have been returned to storage, but the Snow Pals are still hanging by my front door. In December, I replaced their faded and limp scarves with some colorful scraps.

I can't remember when they were purchased, but it's probably been about ten years. Two different styles of fence pickets form the snowmen.

These two pals make me smile and will stay by the door until the snow in the yard is melted.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Button, Button

art display
Las Vegas, Nevada
April 2015
I love buttons and even collect them, but I cannot imagine sewing this many buttons on one garment.

Soundsuit by Nick Cave
Las Vegas, Nevada
April 2015
head detail
Soundsuit by Nick Cave
Las Vegas, Nevada
April 2015
The beauty of art is that the unimaginable becomes tangible.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A Place for Everything . . .

reorganized knitting supply area
January 2018
I've been cleaning, decluttering, and downsizing for about three weeks, and gradually I'm making progress.

Unfortunately, I didn't take a "before" photo of this area, but it was a mess. The bottom shelf housed a lot of vinyl records; the middle shelf, a record player. I don't know about you, but I haven't played a record in years. It was time to let go of those items and allow them to find new homes.

Once the unit was bare, I moved the shelves to accommodate the fabric cubbies. The cubbies contain various types of yarn - not all of my yarn stash, but a good share of it. The yarn is contained, can easily be accessed, and is protected from sunlight and dust.

See that shelf of notebooks? They contain various knitting patterns. I was ruthless in cleaning the notebooks, too. Patterns that I knew would never be knit were pulled and tossed in the recycle bin.

The top shelf is the home for all of my knitting needles, crochet hooks, and sock blockers. The center shelf contains cotton yarn for dishcloths and cards for making pattern flip books.

The hurricane lamps on top of the shelves are used when the electricity goes out. They have come in handy several times in recent years.

Having a specific place to store these items makes me happy.

Are your crafting supplies all in one area?

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

UFO Challenge

auditioning fabric for a UFO
January 2018
While I typically don't have a lot of quilting UFOs (unfinished projects), I do have some that I've intended to make for several years. The project (fabric, pattern, kit, etc.) is frequently shuffled from one pile to another until it's buried under a stack of other intended projects.

Marilyn and I made lists of UFOs and planned projects a couple of weeks ago. I came up with over 12 projects, and Marilyn made a list of 6 projects. I consolidated my list to 6 with two projects per number, so we would both have the same numbers on our lists. Marilyn rolled a die - January's project number is 2.

Number two on my list:
    •  six panel blocks (three houses and three barns)  --  I love the colors and scenes in these blocks and even purchased some coordinating "cheater" fabric. Last week, I framed the panel blocks with a fun polka dot fabric and made three accompanying blocks and framed them, too. I pulled some fabric for borders, etc. I have no real plan for this quilt: it is evolving as I work. The quilt will be a summer throw for the sofa.
    • a row by row of a steam engine  --- Inspired by Sara's (My Sewing Room) row by row project. You may remember that Marilyn, Harold, and I rode the narrow gauge train from Durango to Silverton, CO in October. Our trip was in the works when I saw Sara's row by row project, and I called the shop to order the kit. This project will be a perfect reminder of the fun time I had on the train.

Progress is being made on at least one of these UFOs in January.

Do you have a plan to complete some of your UFOs in 2018?

Monday, January 15, 2018

Hard to Resist

stack of fabric
43.5 yards
January 2018
Friday, Sheri and I went to shopping for bargains at Sheep Camp Quilt Supply. The shop was closed last week for inventory and informed customers that the Clearance Room was well stocked with fabric priced in the $4-6 range.

I came away with more fabric than I intended to purchase, but I found some great yardage for Quilt of Valor backings. The five bottom lengths of fabric in the photo are 5+ yards each and will create backings for close to seven quilts.

All of the fabric I selected was $4 a yard, a great deal: quilting fabric normally sells for $11-13 a yard.

The shop was busy on Friday, and many quilters were enhancing their stash and saving a lot of money.

Do you stock up on supplies when you find a good deal?

Friday, January 12, 2018

Bea's Headbands

four finished headbands and a fifth on the needles
January 2018
Twice a month I join a group of ladies who knit/crochet for local charities. Everyone brings their own projects, and we sit and chat while we work.

Over the holidays, I pulled a hank of yarn from my stash and decided to knit some headbands/ear warmers for the group. The younger kids seem to wear them more than hats. The yarn was purchased at the guild's Fiber Fest in 2016.

Yarn: 60% wool and 40% bamboo - bulky weight

Needles: US size 10.5

Pattern: Bea's Headband (Bea was a fun lady who was in the Tuesday night knitting group for several years. She moved to Colorado a couple of years ago.

          Bea's Headband

          Size 10 or 10.5  circular 16" needle
          Worsted weight yarn (knit double- stranded)

          Cast on 72 stitches (double strands)

          K2, P2 for five rows or about an inch

          Knit seven rows (about two inches)

          K2, P2 for five rows or about an inch

          Bind off
          Finished headband should be about 4 inches wide

Notes: because the yarn I used was bulky, I knit with only one strand of yarn; although, the blue/red headband in the photo was knit with two strands. I thought the two strands of bulky yarn made a headband that was almost too thick; although, it might be good for someone who skis.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Assembling Tavern Blues

Tavern Blues blocks being sashed
December 2017
Since I stayed home for Christmas, I challenged myself to assemble the Tavern Blues' blocks. I knew this quilt was large, but finding an adequate space to lay out the blocks and sashing required moving some furniture.
Tavern Blues with the first border attached
85 x 85 inches
December 2017
I started Tavern Blues on January 23, 2107, so I'm pleased that I "might" have it finished by the end of January 2018.

"Might" is the key word in the previous sentence. You may remember that I didn't purchase a kit for this quilt and that I amassed collected the fabric over a period of time without consulting the pattern. The only problem that created was too much fabric for the blocks.

Fast forward to December 2017 when I get serious about assembling the quilt. I open the box that contains the fabric for the sashing, the setting triangles, and the borders and discover a major glitch: I hadn't purchased enough yardage for the final border - I hadn't even purchased half of the yardage required for the border.

final border fabric for Tavern Blues
To put this in perspective, I started collecting the fabric nearly five years ago when the pattern was released. The border fabric was in quilt shops over five years ago, and the chances of any shop having the yardage now was nearly non-existent.

Optimist that I am, I began my search online, and after several hours of searching, I had only ONE hit - a shop in Longview, WA called Momma Made It. I called the shop and discovered they had 1 and 2/3 yards available - combined with the yard I had, it's still short of what I need. I definitely will not be able to miter the corners, but I'll be okay with that if I have enough yardage for the border with corner stones.

The fabric arrived last Saturday. Now, I need to tediously sew this yardage to the piece I already had, and hope that the joins are not too obvious. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I have enough fabric for the outer border on the quilt that should be renamed, Nancy's Folly.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Colonial America

Colonial America
59 x 73"
Quilt of Valor #129
Colonial America is the first Quilt of Valor for 2018. The center block motifs are all colonial images with an odd hue of blue for the background. These blocks have been marinating for a long time because I couldn't find anything to coordinate with the blue. I finally decided to add a frame around the blocks to allow the blocks to "float." The striped fabric not only separates the blocks, but draws the eye away from the contrasting colors.

The center squares were fussy cut from backing scraps and the tan sashing is also from quilt backing scraps. The striped sashing and navy blue came from my fabric stash.
I had seven blocks with a large, single motif and pieced some smaller motif scraps into blocks to have twelve blocks for the quilt top.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Little Hats Big Hearts

five finished red hats and one on the needles
January 2018
A local yarn shop (Pingora Yarns) is collecting red baby hats through January for the American Heart Association project, Little Hats Big Hearts.

The hats will be distributed at the two local hospitals for babies born in February.

One requirement is that the hats must be made with acrylic or cotton yarn. I purchased a skein of Red Heart yarn and cast on a hat only to frog it: the yarn was too stiff and scratchy for babies. My friend Sue gave me a skein of SOFT yarn she found at Walmart. I love how the yarn feels to knit, and it's baby friendly, too. Thanks, Sue

I've finished five hats and have a sixth one on the needles. I may be able to knit a seventh as well.

Yarn: Mainstays Basic Yarn (Red)
         7 ounce skein - 100% acrylic

Needles: US size 5

Pattern: 1-2-3 Baby Beanie by Lisa Seifert (Ravelry link)

Note: as shown in the photo, the pattern has garter ridge bands. I knit two hats with one garter ridge, two hats with two garter ridge bands, and two hats with three garter ridge bands.

Monday, January 8, 2018

California Thomas Fire Quilt Blocks

four blocks for the California Fire Quilts
December 2017
These four blocks are on their way to Carole (From My Carolina Home) who plans to make some quilts for those who've suffered from the Thomas Fire in California.

The blocks are also being collected by the Ventura Modern Quilt Guild in California: here's the pattern link and mailing address is listed at the bottom of the pattern page. Update January 13,2018, read this post on Carole's blog about all the blocks she's received.

The need for quilts is great, so I hope you can help by sending a few blocks to the Ventura Guild.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Helpful Tools - Quarter-Inch Foot

pressor foot with quarter-inch guide
Sewing machines are sold with several standard presser feet, but specialized feet can also be purchased for many brands of machines. I purchased a Quarter-Inch foot with a seam guide soon after I obtained my machine. The foot allows me to have consistent quarter-inch seams for quilting.

I'd guess that nearly 90% of my sewing is done with this presser foot.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Special Gift

Stephanie and Maria
June 2015
It all started with a photograph taken before a wedding on a hot and humid day in Oshkosh, NE. A photo of a mother receiving a necklace from her daughter, the bride.
Marilyn works on the counted cross-stitch portrait
June 2017
The photo was lovingly transformed into a work of art by the bride's grandmother one stitch at a time.  I snapped the photo of Marilyn working on the project when she came to help me after my knee surgery.
gradually, the image became more like the photograph
June 28, 2017
Marilyn finished stitching on July 30, 2017
framed and ready for Christmas gifting
September 2017
It was hard to wait until after Christmas to post about Marilyn's special gift. I think she did a beautiful job.
Maria struggled with her emotions when she opened the gift.
Note - the patten is attached to the back of the framed piece. 
Marilyn has stitched other photographs here and here.  Marilyn stitched a photo of Stephanie and Justin on their wedding day but for some reason I didn't prepare a post about it.

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