Thursday, December 31, 2015

I was going to do one of those 'Best of' retrospectives

But, that would be way too organized.  So totally not me...
So, instead, I'll just jump up and down because Bonnie Hunter did an early reveal of Allietare, and I LOVE the quilt!
So, all of this

(plus the bits I haven't gotten sewn together yet) (because there are a lot of those) (because I've got way too many several projects going) (you know how I am) will eventually be a really pretty star quilt, which makes me very happy.  I'm all about the stars, doncha know.
So (and I seem to be starting every sentence with 'so' tonight - my eighth grade English teacher would be reading me the riot act right about now) in the meantime, as I contemplate the projects I'll be starting as 2016 starts, piled on top of the projects from 2015 that I'm carrying over...  let me just wish one and all

a very 
Happy New Year! 

May 2016 be the best year ever!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Onward to Clue 5

Clue 5 came out day after Christmas, but I was busily playing with visiting family, so no sewing until today.  This week's clue was all sewing and no cutting, using the fruits of our previous labors.

I got 35 done out of the 98 I need.  They go together fairly quickly, so it won't take long to wrap this unit up.  (Now I'll just have to go back and catch up with clue 4, which I'm abysmally behind on.)
I even got a start on the flippy cornered rectangles.  Here you can see the clear advantage of using a geometric fabric:

I didn't have to mark a sewing line on the back, since all I had to do was point and shoot, staying parallel to the lines of the print.  Nifty!

And since I like to alternate a little cutting with a little sewing (my back is much happier with me that way), I cut some 3.5" strips and some squares, getting ready for 2016.

And since I was already cutting, I just had to test whether it was feasible to cut the 3" triangles I needed out of 3.5" strips (which I keep on hand anyway) or if I was going to have to cut some dedicated 3" strips.   (You know, for that long-term long-range triangle-star-quilt-whose-name-I-keep-forgetting-to-look-up project.  The one that I'm not starting but might just cut a triangle for now and then, but only if it's no extra trouble and not distracting in any way from whatever I'm really working on.  That one.)

Yep.  Looks like it's going to work.

Linking to Bonnie Hunter's Monday Allietare Party.  Come see all our pretties!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Surfacing from the wrapping paper

I think we've finally finished celebrating the holidays.  The last gift is given, the last brunch is digested, the last relative has been hugged and kissed goodbye and wished safe journey to.
As things approach what passes for normal around here, I'll leave you a couple of pictures of some of my sewing that's no longer a secret.
Here's the beer bucket that I made for younger daughter.  (You may remember the one I made for older daughter, which inspired enough envy that I had to make another one.  I was happy to oblige.)
Younger daughter is a fan of colors bright and happy, so I picked out fabrics that would suit her.

Here's a view from the top -

and here it is with the removable lining removed.  Because removable.

 In this form it's perfect for hauling growlers, and with the lining unit in place it's a bottles transporter.  I was very pleased that she was very pleased!

And here's what I did with one of the piglet blocks that make me so happy...

A little cotton batting quilted in place and a layer of insul-bright make a happy piggly-wiggly trivet.
I used up all my piglet blocks for gifts, though, so now I'm going to have to make more to replace them.
Oh, shucky darn...

And since I used actual scraps for all these projects, I'm linking with Oh Scrap at Quilting is more fun than Housework.  Come see what we're all up to, here at the end of the year!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

To all my friends, both real and imaginary

 Happy happy, merry merry, and tons of joy for all.  Thank you for everything you have added to my life.
Whatever holiday you celebrate, may it be the best ever! 
(If you don't celebrate any holidays, have a great weekend!)

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Cookies, guillotined geese, and that other pig

I saw these cookies the other day, and was so enchanted that I promptly copied down the recipe and checked the pantry.
The dough was made last night, but needed to chill for a couple of hours.  By the time it was ready, I was too pooped to scoop, so I didn't start rolling until this morning.
The recipe advised putting the minty kisses in the freezer, but I scoffed at the idea and just used them at room temperature.
Turns out there's a reason for the freezin'.  (Sorry, I just can't stop.  I think the solstice has affected my brain.)

My kisses got a little gooey...
So for the second batch, I froze the kisses.

Much better.
Then I wondered what else I could stuff into these cookies.

It occurs to me that the nutella will stay sticky forever, so that may not be the smartest cookie I ever made.  Tasty, though...

Still can't share most of what I've been sewing lately, but I did put in a little time on Allietare today.
A little sewing to add to the completed clue 4 guillotined geese units.

And a few more sets ready to sew.

And some more bits cut out and ready to sort into sets.

I'd been trying to get at least half of each clue done before the next clue was revealed, but this week is a fail.  Next clue isn't until Saturday, but I don't think I'll be able to squeeze in any more sewing between now and then.
So I'll leave you with this fella, which I don't think I ever showed in the completed state.  This was my dad's birthday present - a cushion for the bench where he sits to change into or out of shoes, boots, and slippers.

Yep, a pig to park one's butt on. 
Who could ask for anything more?

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Some pinwheels, an old beauty, and a wee bit of Allietare

While my gifty sewing was in full swing, I had to haul out my old faithful friend here, since it was too much bother to keep switching needles and tension  - I was piecing quilting cotton, and machine-quilting, and assembling heavier-weight fabrics.  With two machines up and running, life got a lot simpler.  This old beauty was my first 'big purchase' after leaving home - I bought it new in 1971, and it was my primary machine until I got my 'new' machine in 1987; it's still my backup when the going gets tough.  It goes forward, backward, and does zigzag.  What more could I want?

Now I'm caught up with Christmas sewing except for a bit of handwork that I can do in the evenings, so I got to a project that I've been wanting to play with for quite a while.  (And as always, I typed 'quilt' right there instead of 'quite' and had to go back and fix it.)  (Is it just me?)
Ever since I saw Chantal's pinwheel blocks, way back last spring sometime, I've been wanting some for my own.  It was the first block I put on my 'Definite' list for RSC2016.  You'd think with all that love and fervor I would have pieced a few already; after all, I've made at least one block of everything else in the patchwork world...
Well, today I finally did it.  I've been cutting most of the components I needed right along - Allietare is generating all kinds of 2" strips, and I've been cutting 3.5" strips all along in anticipation of starting Quilty 365 on January 1st.  (I'll be using 3.5" blocks for backgrounds for my circles.)

I threw a block together real quick, (and there should be a photo of it right here, but my camera apparently ate it, without even a burp...)

then made three more lickety-split.

Because this is one of those block that you look at and think 'yeah, that's nice, you got any snacks?'  Underwhelming on its own.
But put a couple of them together and magic starts to happen.

 Though I'll probably use that first set, there are other ways to lay them out.

And if I had more of them, there are chevrons to be made.  I'll just have to be patient - RSC is coming soon and I'll be up to my collarbones in quilt blocks in no time!

With the pinwheels assembled, I turned to Allietare and threw together a couple more sets of clue 4 units.

Five down, twenty-five to go...
And I got the last of the clue 1 HSTs done, as leader/enders while I was piecing the pinwheels, so I actually reached into my 1.5" squares box and got a couple 4-patches done - you know, my REAL leader/ender project.

 And I've got another long-range, probably leader-ender project in mind.
In this magazine (from Oct 2009),

there's this quilt.

I wants it, preciousss, I wants it, I does.
So, while I'm cutting other pieces for other blocks, I'm going to start cutting a triangle here and there, now and then.

I've got one so far.

Linking with Oh Scrap! at Quilting is More Fun than Housework, where all us scrappers meet.
And I'll link to Bonnie Hunter's Allietare Monday as soon as the link goes live.
Come and see all the fun!

Friday, December 18, 2015


Hurray hurray!  I got all the Ohio stars sewn together today.

And once more, with feet!

Well, a foot, anyway.
Now I can set it aside for a little well-deserved dithering about the borders.  (And a name.  I'm still trying to come up with something involving storms and rainbows and Ohio stars.  "After the Storm"?  "Stormy Ohio"? "We're not in Ohio anymore, Toto"?)   At present it measures 39 x 45, which to me is too big for a wall hanging and too small for a lap quilt.  So, a border or two is going to make it the perfect size.  For something.  I have no idea what I'm going to do with it - I just wanted to join the RSC, and the next thing I knew I had this quilt top.  Odd, right?

Speaking of joining in, clue 4 for Allietare came out today and I managed to get a couple of the knotless-bowtie/funky-hourglass units done.

I have no idea where this quilt is going.  It's a really weird feeling to be working on something without knowing what it's going to look like.  I think I'm starting to see now why people like doing mystery quilts.  It's a bit unbalancing, but in a good way.  We'll see what I think at the end of this whole process.

Oh, the post title?  Well, let me tell you a little story.
Last time my wonderful daughter visited here from Vermont, she brought me a Lake Champlain Chocolate Factory chocolate bar.  Dark chocolate.  One of my Holy Grails of chocolate.  Recently I decided to take it down to the studio with me, grabbed it on the way out the door, dropped it into the pocket on the car door, and forgot about it.  Well, forgot until yesterday, when I remembered to grab it as I was getting out of the car.
Some vile little despicable nasty thieving mouse had found it in the interim and had gnawed right through the wrapper in multiple places and had eaten vast quantities of my chocolate.  My lovely Lake Champlain chocolate.  My. chocolate.  Mine.
I was so mad.  "You damn mouse!  You ruined my chocolate!  You &*%#$((& mouse!"  And I took the chocolate in and threw it away, so now neither one of us had any chocolate.
Damn mouse.
And I thought that was the end of it.
Until I got into the car today, that is.  When I pulled on the seat belt to buckle up, I encountered resistance.  I tugged harder, then harder.  It wasn't like when the belt locks up when the brakes have been applied - it felt like there was something interfering with it.
As it finally freed itself up, I looked back at it to see what the problem was.


I guess Mr Mouse decided that if I wasn't going to let him have chocolate, then he'd just have to kill me by gnawing through my seatbelt.
I'd never really thought of mice as vengeful creatures, but this has really opened my eyes!
Chocolate-thieving murderous little monsters, the lot of them, I tell ya.

I'll be linking with So Scrappy for Scrap Happy Saturday!  Come see what we're all doing to wrap up RSC2015!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

I can show you rainbows

Well, at least a part of a rainbow.  I finished today's project, prepped for the next one, and had a bit of time to sew some more setting triangles to my stormy rainbow.

 At the upper right of the photo is the warm corner where I started.  Now I'm building up from the opposite corner with the cooler colors.  I'll be meeting in the middle with the greens and yellows by the time I'm done.  I love how the colors seem to glow in the middle of the quilt.

And while I can't show off the project yet, I have to admit that the piglets kept calling to me until I used the sample blocks to make something fun.

Complete with a freehand quilted heart.  I promise I'll show you what I did after the holidays.  8)

And I pushed to get Allietare caught up.  My neutral rectangles are all cut, my decapitated geese are done, my 4-patches are done, and I only need 30 more HSTs for clue 1, of which I've got 28 cut out.  (I have to get out the gray to cut one more  2" strip in order to cut those last 2 triangles, so I decided to wait until clue 4 came out.  Chances are I'll be cutting gray for something, so I'll hit the triangles at the same time.)  And I've got way more black squares cut than I need, since I had it in my head that I needed 200 of them, and I only needed 98.  I have a feeling I won't have a hard time using up 2" black squares, so I'm not fussed about it.

So bring on Clue 4!  Tomorrow is Friday, and I'm so ready!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

At least I remembered my camera today

I got a bit of sewing done yesterday, then kicked myself because I'd forgotten to bring along my camera.  Not that I could have shared the pictures, mind you, since most of what I worked on was super-secret.  But at least if I'd taken some photos, I could have posted them after the holidays...
So today, since I remembered the camera, and since I got done all the non-Allietare stuff that was on the to-do list (well, on today's list.  I'm not done done, if you know what I mean.  But manageable chunks should be my middle name at this point), I picked back up where I left off on clue 3.

I had cut and sewed and cut and made stacks and stacks of twosies.

And I started pairing them up and I sewed and I sewed and I sewed and I sewed until I had what looked like a gajillion 4-patches.
Yeehaw!  I even  worried a little that I had overshot the target of 120.  Oh, well - there's always a use for 4-patches, right?
So I pressed and I pressed and I pressed and I pressed.  And I counted.
I had 68 of the damn things.
That couldn't be right.  I counted them again.
Yep, 68.
So this time I tried a different approach.
Take some of those multitudinous 2" strips you now have on hand.  Stack them up and cut 4" lengths of both golds and neutrals.  Lots of them.

 Pair a gold with a neutral and sew them together along one long edge.

Lots of them.

Press them open, pushing the seams toward the gold.

Lots of them.

Then start sewing the pairs together into elongated 4-patches.
And this is important.  Do not press the seams at this stage.  I repeat, resist the urge to press.

Keep sewing pairs together, then sew pairs to pairs, end to end, over and over and over.  Resist the urge to press.  Do not press.  (Seriously.  Don't do it.)
At some point, you can join everything together and start adding to each end, using the long chain as its own leader/ender.
When you run out of things to attach to this mega-strip, you have two choices.  If you're lucky, the ends will fit together with golds and lights in the right places so you can sew them together into one long hoop.  (And you don't even have to worry about twisting it!  Twists won't matter.)  If you're not so lucky, just piece a couple of twosies from neutral and gold squares and sew one to each end of your chain.  (Or you could cut 2" off one end, rotate it 180 degrees, and sew it to the other end.  Which will make more sense the second time you do this method...)
Do not press.

Seriously.  Do not press.
If you were lucky and now have a big giant loop, grab any seam you want and flatten that end on your cutting mat.

Line up the 2" mark on your ruler with edge of the strip.

And cut.

 Open it up and see what you've got!

A perfect 4-patch.
Peel back the top part of that long strip and expose the bottom part.  The left edge will have folded over and will now look like this.  And for those of you who weren't lucky in joining the ends of the strip - this is what your starting point looks like, with that twosie joined to the end of your strip.)

Line your ruler up again with that left edge, just like you did last time.  Cut.

And another one.  Notice how the twosie part closes itself  up?  That's why you didn't press - so that would happen.  It's a whole lot easier to cut the 4-patches if they're lining up to do half the work for you.
Keep cutting until you run out of things to cut.  Open and admire all your lovely little 4-patches.

And now you may press.  You're welcome.  (I know some of you were starting to twitch.  I was too at this point.)

So I counted up these 4-patches when I was done pressing.  Fifty of them.  Whew!  With the 68 from the last group, that gave me 118 out of 120.  For the last two, I can just cut squares.  Which I'll have to put off until next time, because it was time to go home and start supper.
So, clue 3 is (practically) a wrap.  Clue 2 is done.  Clue 1 stands at 257 out of 296 HSTs.

I think I've got a handle on Allietare so far.  And the secret sewing is progressing.  And there has even been continuing progress on the Twinkly project.

Now if I can just keep a close eye on those blood-thirsty scissors, I'll be fine...

Saturday, December 12, 2015

'Tis the season

The trouble with this time of year is that all the most interesting stuff I'm working on is stuff I can't write about since it's all top secret type gifty goodies.
Thank goodness for Allietare, or I wouldn't have anything to talk about at all...

This week's clue involved sewing strips and cutting them

 and sewing again into little 4-patches.

I didn't finish a lot of units, but I got a start on cutting strips, and sewing and cutting the 2-patches.

To ensure a lot of variety, I've been cutting the strips into 6" lengths, sewing a gold to a neutral, then cutting into  3 2" duos.  In the interest of efficiency, I tried leaving the gold strip intact, but sewing 6" lengths of neutrals to it end to end.  Efficient, but I'd sometimes end up with unequal lengths.

No worries, though.  That last little fella just got trimmed to 1.5" wide,

then got folded along the seam, and trimmed again to make a finished 1.5" 2-patch unit.

It will go straight into my Leader/ender project pile.  No waste!

Oh, you noticed my finger a couple of pictures back?  Yeah.  I was trimming a thread with my hideously sharp fabric shears and snipped right into my finger.

And being a quilter, my first thought was "Oh, no!  My good fabric shears!  Cutting not fabric!  Bad!  Dulls them!!  Oh, no!"
Not, you'll notice "Oh, no!  I've slashed my finger open and must now seek a bandaid!  Oh, no!"

Priorities, people.
It's all about the priorities.

I'll be linking to Oh, Scrap!  because scrap quilting is the best quilting.  With or without bandaids...
And since there's Allietare action, I'll link with Bonnie's Monday linky party, too.