Friday, March 25, 2016

playing with shapes

I'm back to showing you some of my EPP blocks for Glorious Hexagons.  One thing that really adds to the interest of these blocks is the positioning.  These 3 blocks are each made of 3 diamonds, and I cut them carefully to try to get a repeat of the same design.  Here are some examples:

This little Paul Bunyan and Babe fabric really looks more pleasing when the feet of the little figures is around the outside of the block.  The horns of Babe tie in with Paul to almost create a circle in the center.  Much better than the other orientation, which just leaves a big empty spot in the middle without any interest.

These little chairs could really face outward or inward, but the second picture (legs to the middle) makes a more interesting center design when the 3 diamonds get together.

And then these wedding cakes came along---

 I have mixed feelings about the position of these diamonds, but I've decided that placing the tops of the cakes to the outside makes it more visually interesting.

What do you think?

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

fresh new things

A finish!  On Sunday, I was on a mission to finish up this new knitting bag for a store sample.  It's a pattern by Among Brenda's Quilts, and is named Wooly, Wooly.  It has zippered vinyl pockets and slip vinyl pockets, big pockets all the way to the top of the bag, some with divisions for tall skinny stuff (knitting needles and crochet hooks).  Inside, there are snap tabs for separating yarn strands.  There is a drawstring top closure and an adjustable carrying strap.  It has a lot going on!

I found the pattern to be pretty clear.  If I were to do it again, I would have changed some fabric placement on the outside to remove some of those chopped up apples, it's a pretty large scale print. I love the fabric, it's from a relatively new design/fabric maker, Cotton + Steel. Also, it's a heavier weight fabric than usual quilting cottons, which lead to some pretty thick seam build-up that was tough to manage.  I did some grading of the seams (trimming out layers) and even got handy with the hammer to flatten the thickest seams.  Although I love my Bernina for almost all my sewing, in this case, my Juki was a life saver.  It accommodates thicker things beneath the foot, and has a more powerful force behind the needle.  Even with that, I could feel and hear when it was really working hard to penetrate everything.  So it's perfect for something like this, but is limited by the fact that it only does straight stitching.  There are trade-offs in everything!  I'm lucky I have what I need for various sewing situations.

Now, just a pretty picture!  This English Paper Piecing project was draped over the chair to get it out of the way for dusting.  And it just looked pretty!

One of the fun things we did while Ian and Jack were visiting was indoor gardening.  The day after they arrived, great-grandma Sally and I helped them dig in some dirt and plant some seeds.  Everything but the tomato seeds sprouted, and the peas were the champs because they grew the most!  In fact, the peas and the few beans that sprouted are going to the compost heap now because they are too long and spindly, and it's not nearly warm enough to put them in the outside garden.

 The grass is ready for Easter eggs!  One thing that isn't seen in these pictures is the celery.  I think it was the first thing to show some growth.  I simply took an old wilted remainder of a celery bunch, chopped off the top leaving about 1" of root and base of the stalk.  I put it in a little pot and just barely covered the surface deep enough with dirt.  Now it's growing into a whole new celery plant!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

music to my ears

It has been only a week since the grandsons went back to NC.  I think I have all the toys picked up, but I haven't gotten around to cleaning the floors and bathrooms yet!  That can wait!

Ian surprised me and asked if he could sew something with me--I'm not sure if it was the intrigue of the sewing room and all of the goodies in there, or that he really knows what sewing is about!  Either way, I thought it was worth making a little pillowcase from my red truck fabric during Jack's naptime.  He stood on a little stool right by my chair to watch the machine do its magic, and he was all smiles when he got to hug his pillow!  We will definitely do that again, and include little Jack in the fun, too!

Here's a cut shot of Ian after we got out some of our old Lego collection--

he had great plans to make everything in the diagrams!  He already likes to build with blocks, and now is old enough to move to the Lego pieces.  And it makes a fun thing to do with Papa and Grandpa, too.

Over at Bear Patch, we have put up a display of employees' projects, and I dug out this one for something that not a lot of people have ever seen.  It is Urban Beads by Sew Kind of Wonderful.  I made it about 4 years ago (I think) and have never finished it.  Just waiting for quilting--just like the shoemaker's children, my quilts usually wait for finishing!  

I had to tear myself away from English Paper Piecing this evening, while watching the NCAA Basketball Tournament on TV.  I am really really wanting to finish up the project I have going so I can start the next one.  I did stray from the straight and narrow this afternoon, and gave into the temptation to prepare some pieces for my new project, Glorious Hexagons.  I did some fussy cutting from some interesting fabrics to see what the design combinations would look like.  Here's what I cut and glued today, and tucked away into my sewing basket.  They are fun!

Does this look like fun to you, or am I nuts?!

Here's one quilt that I made for a store sample that I actually have quilted and bound.  It will go into our upcoming display of baby and kid quilts.  This dragon fabric was so cute, and so easy to work into this pattern called Diva 2 by Maple Island Quilts.  I would not recommend using a directional fabric int he border like that gray one I used.  It has a diamond design, and I quickly realized that I was going to need to alter the cutting so the diamonds all stood up and down, not part of them sideways!

Monday, March 7, 2016

birthday pancakes

I am still plugging away on my most recent hexie project.  English paper piecing is something I enjoy doing, although it can seem tedious at times.  I used to do counted cross stitch and that was the same deal.  It was neat and orderly, every stitch in just the right spot to make the picture complete.
I am on the downhill run with this project, I've decided what I'm going to do to call it finished.  After I complete the green and gray florets at the bottom of this picture, I'm adding one row of hexagons around the entire piece.  I think they need to be primarily dark shades of purple/pink/green and some gray to balance out the dark in the center.  Then I might applique this onto a square background, I think it would be about the right size for the center of my dining table.

When I was on retreat a week ago, one of the things I did was to take a guided driving tour around the Amish communities near Augusta.  One place we stopped was at an Amish General Store and I picked up these little hats for the little boys.

That was such an interesting opportunity to learn a lot more about the culture and society of the Amish.  Such different lives!  As an example, the little store had shelves loaded with all of the kitchenware and hardware and naturopathic remedies and clothing they would ordinarily use.  But there are no electric lights, so the windows give the only light.  But you can buy all the parts needed for your gas-powered lights there!  Very nice people, we had a good conversation with the shop lady, she patiently answered our questions.  She is also a midwife, so she shared some interesting information about that role.  They really value their privacy and separation from the "English" world.  But they are friendly, waving to us from their buggies and finding ways to co-exist.  In close proximity there is a large mining area for the silica sand used in fracking for oil.  It has become a big problem for the Amish community because they have lost land in the deal, and the underground blasting shakes their buildings, and they had been led to believe that this new industry would not effect them.  I don't see much hope for them stopping big investors and big business.

Meanwhile, back at home, I enjoy this visit with my 2 grandsons.  Ian turned 4 on Friday, and it was just the 2 of us for breakfast so I made him a stack of birthday pancakes with a candle on top!  In a couple weeks, little Jack turns 2.  This picture of hugs is so special.  They aren't always that enamored with each other, believe me!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Happy weekend to you!

Do you know how much energy it takes to keep up with 2 little boys all day long??!!  Thank goodness I had lots of energy about 35 years ago when the kids were my own little ones, but I think might have used it all up!  We have been having such a good time with Ian and Jack (and Brita and Ben, too!).  In fact, yesterday was Ian's 4th birthday, so it was pretty much a party all day long!  The meal we prepared, at his request, was chicken strips, french fries and ketchup!  With chocolate cake and chocolate frosting and chocolate sprinkles for dessert!  It even snowed for Ian, like a special birthday treat from God.  Both boys enjoyed tromping around in the fresh snow (only 2" but enough for them) and making tracks and looking for tracks.

I still haven't unpacked from my recent retreat, too many other things to do, but here's a picture of progress I made on my stash Scrap Hap quilt--

This is all fabric pulled from my own shelves, but since it takes only a 2 1/2" strip of each fabric, there is still some left on the shelf!  This is about halfway done.  I'm trying to decide what to do for the outer border.  For the batik quilt made from this pattern, I used a neutral tan shade for that.  Now I'm wondering if I should use a variety of fabrics in one color for that.  Not sure.

I made this wallet a little while ago, but I didn't take pictures of it.  It is called the Diva Wallet and uses a metal frame and closure.  I love this fabric by Lori Holt that fit right into the front and the back sides.

And here are those little angels, Ian and Jack, playing on the church piano last Sunday!