Monday, February 28, 2011

First 2011 Stitching Finish

I’m dealing with computer problems, so this will be a quick post. My main PC is being worked on at Office Depot. They say it’s only software issues – malware that got installed without me knowing about it that is causing the problem. The problem happened while I was trying out the FindMyFabric website I mentioned in the previous post – but I don’t know if that’s what caused it. Hopefully they can get it fixed and it won’t cost an arm and a leg.

I finished this one-color project. It was a simple project to get me back into a stitching frame of mind.

Bye for now – or until my PC is back in business.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Stash Accountability

I was doing pretty well as far as creating a stash deficit for the year – until I went to the “Thousands of Bolts (only one nut)” website. 

It is a great site for stash building – not that I need to do any stash building. With the price of fabric today, who doesn’t want to get great fabrics for an average of about $5 per yard! (I noticed that today all Hoffman batiks and bali prints are $5.95 a yard. Hmm, do I need some additional batiks in my stash?)

Since my favorite quilts are scrappy, I buy a lot of fat quarters. But I naturally gravitate towards medium and dark value fabrics – which leaves a definite gap in my stash as far as lights. Also, since I think some scrappy quilts benefit from using the same background fabric (usually a light value), I often buy yardage of a light fabric that I especially like in order to mix it with a variety of medium and dark scraps for a quilt. So, I bought 18 yards (yikes!) of lights from Thousands of Bolts.

Oh, and Thousands of Bolts is a great source for 108-inch wide fabrics if you want something simple for backing – with no piecing. I found a great wide-width flannel that I’ll use for backing the flannel heart wedding quilt for Jenny. Easy peasy!

So year to date here’s my stash accountability report:
  • Added YTD: 68-3/4 yards
  • Stash used YTD: 71-1/4 yards
  • Net stash reduction: 2-1/2 yards

It’s hard to imagine I’ve added more than 68 yards of fabrics to my stash in less than two months. (Can hardly wait to get my AMEX bill!)

I succumbed to another fat quarter bundle over the past couple weeks: Civil War Reunion by Barbara Brackman (about 10 yards).

Plus I bought 5 yards of one of the Bliss fabrics to use as backing for whatever quilt I make using the Bliss fat quarter bundle I bought in early February.

I learned about another great source for finding specific fabrics you might need to finish a quilt:

While at Winterfest Carrie Nelson (Miss Rosie’s Quilt Co.) saw me using my iPad. She came over and chatted about how much she loves her iPad and recommended this website. It is basically a search engine that searches more than 200 quilt shops for what you are looking for.

So when I was looking for some additional fabrics from Basic Grey’s Blush collection that was released more than a year ago, it was easy to find many quilt shops that still had some Blush fabric in their inventory.

What’s more, it’s easy to price compare and find the shops that have it on sale. You do have to be careful if buying multiple fabrics. You’ll want to get them from the same shop if possible to save on shipping charges – otherwise you’ve defeated the purpose of shopping online. But when you are looking for something very specific, is a great option.

I also checked out a new website called It promises to find a fabric based on an uploaded photo of the fabric. I tried three different fabrics -- two of which were older lines and one is in stores now. I also used fabric swatches from the manufacturer for two and a photograph for one. Unfortunately it couldn't find any of the three fabrics. In their defense, the website does say that it is still a "beta" version, meaning that it's being tested and isn't fully ready for prime time.  However, after my three searches, my computer did a memory dump, crashed and it took more than an hour of monkeying around to get it to fully boot correctly and run my typical applications. I don't know if that was tied to trying out the FineMyFabric search capability, or not, but I won't be trying it again any time soon.

On the to-do list for tonight:
• Set the blocks into the quilt top for Route 44
• Begin cutting and sewing two-patches for the Route 44 border
• Continue stitching A Sheltering Tree while watching either American Idol or Survivor (true confession: I do like reality shows.)

Bye for now.

Monday, February 21, 2011

When Does a Project Go From Being a WIP to a UFO?

So just when does a project go from being a “work in progress” (WIP) to an “unfinished object” (UFO)? Or worse, when does it become a PIG (project in grocery bag)?

I was pondering this question while sewing and squaring up the first 103 of 192 half-square triangles for a retirement quilt I’m making for the person who was been my boss for the better part of the past 21 years. (More on that in another post.)

Here’s how I would distinguish a WIP from a UFO.

First, how long it’s been since I started it. If it’s been more than about six months since I started it, it’s likely a UFO.

Second, how long it’s been since I made any progress on the project. If I haven’t worked on it for a couple months, it’s a UFO.

And, third, whether it’s still out on my sewing counter or at the top of my stitching basket to be picked up and worked on at a moment’s notice. If it’s out on my sewing room counter because I intend to work on it (but other things seem to get in the way), then I would classify as a WIP rather than UFO. But once it goes into the cupboard, it’s definitely a UFO – or even a PIG because it’s clear I have no plan to finish it any time soon.

Note that a project can go from being a UFO or PIG to a WIP because I pulled it out, did some pressing and cutting, and even some sewing. This is the case for the Kim Diehl spool quilt. I finished machine appliquéing the border vines one evening this past week and picked out the fabrics for the leaves and buds.

Based on my definitions above, the retirement quilt qualifies as a WIP. I’ve had the fabric for about 18 months or so, but I only started it two weeks ago when I cut the fabrics into triangles for the half-square triangles.

My version of Miss Rosie’s Quilt Co. “Route 44” quilt also qualifies as a WIP. I started the quilt at Winterfest at the end of January and have worked on it a couple times so far in February, including Saturday when I pretty much finished all of the blocks.

However, these projects qualify as UFOs:

I’ve had these “Hot Buttered Rum” square-in-square blocks done for probably 15 years! I love the fabrics, colors and pattern. This is about 30 of the 42 13-inch blocks. (Yes, this has the potential to be one BIG quilt, especially once border(s) are added.)

I kind of want to keep this quilt for me (it was the second quilt I made after starting quilting again in the late 90s), but I haven’t wanted it bad enough to get it finished and quilted. I was thinking about finishing it for a wedding quilt for my most recently married nephew – but his bride mentioned she really likes black, white and red. Oh well, back to the drawing board for them!

This quilt, Jan Patek and Alma Allen’s Baskets and Berries quilt, also qualifies as a UFO – even though one of the three final blocks is out on my sewing room counter and begging me to finish it.

The first nine blocks were hand appliquéd, starting in about 2001. In fact, it was my first hand appliqué project. I really want to finish the last three blocks by hand as well. I decided a long time ago that I didn’t have it in me to do the appliquéd border like the original.

I saw this design finished at the 2005 HQMS (Home Quilting Machine Show) and liked the pieced border the quilter had used and think it will be a good way to finish this up (when the last three blocks are done, of course.)

Unfortunately I didn’t note the name of the person who made this version (isn’t it lovely?), so can’t give her credit.

I am even the proud owner of one of my grandmother’s UFO quilts. (I have a feeling this may be her only UFO as she usually finished what she started!) I don’t even know where I have the blocks hidden in my sewing room in order to take a photograph of them.

I think that’s enough UFO “true confessions” for one post. I could easily do the same with cross stitching projects – but will spare myself the humiliation!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Taste of Greece

Last November I took a 2-1/2 week vacation – a cruise in the eastern Mediterranean. We started in Venice and ended in Athens – with stops in Ravenna (Italy), Dubrovnik (Croatia), Isle of Patmos (Greece), Port Said and Alexandria (Egypt), Haifa/Galilee (Israel), Asdod/Jerusalem (Israel), and Kusadasi/Ephesus (Turkey). We spent a couple extra days in Athens – shopping, eating, and seeing the sights.

One day we had lunch at the foot of the Acropolis at the edge of the Plaka, near the Agora. I ate the most fabulous stuffed cabbage rolls. These cabbage rolls aren’t like the ones from eastern Europe – usually cooked in a tomato sauce. But rather, these are topped with traditional Greek lemon sauce: avgolemono.

I knew that I would have to find a recipe so I could eat them again. Well, turns out this dish is a very well known Greek recipe, called “Lahanodolmathes” and I made the recipe yesterday. It’s not hard, but a little time consuming. There are lots of variations of the recipe online and many food bloggers have detailed instructions for making them.

So I assembled the ingredients – most importantly hamburger with rice (seasoned with salt, pepper, onion, dill) and cabbage (you remove the core and then put the whole head in a large pot of boiling water, removing the cabbage leaves one by one).

Then you roll up the meat mixture in the cabbage leaves and layer in a dutch oven.

Add chicken stock to cover and simmer for about an hour – enough time to fully cook the beef, rice and cabbage.

Make avgolemono sauce to top the stuffed cabbage rolls. The recipe I used made the sauce a bit too acidic – so next time I will probably just make hollandaise and add some extra lemon juice to it.

Here is the finished product. I took this dish of lahanodolmathes to my parents since the recipe makes about 8 to 10 servings --  and as good as they are, I didn't want to eat them all week. (Several are frozen for a quick meal in the future.)

Now -- time to enjoy this Sunday afternoon before having to think about a new work week! (I don't get President's Day off -- which is kind of a drag.)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Electric Quilt Color Challenge

I love the Electric Quilt challenge for this month. Basically, you import a colorful photo that you love into EQ and use it as the color inspiration for a quilt. What a great way to come up with new color combinations for a quilt.

Here’s one of their examples:



So I decided to try my hand at it. My inspiration photo was some Tuscan ceramics that I purchased in San Gimignano, Italy. I took this photo just before the store packed up my purchases to ship to me in Utah. I identified the 9 main colors / values from the photo that I wanted to use in a quilt.

And here’s my first pass at a quilt using the colors. I don’t know whether I’ll eventually tweak this and send it to Electric Quilt for their challenge. I just know that I wanted to design a quilt that at first glance looked a lot harder to make than it actually was. So, here’s the first image WITHOUT lines outlining the blocks and patches.

And here’s the one with the outlines. It wouldn’t be hard to piece – but the end result would look very complicated!

I’m considering modifying the orange and rust pieces such that they would be pieced and have value gradations from light to dark / dark to light (or vice versa) to simulate a Tuscan sunset. Who knows?

Regardless, I love the technique of using a photo as inspiration for the color palette of a quilt. It certainly would keep me from getting into a color rut!

Friday, February 18, 2011

First Orts of the Year

It felt good to put some crossed stitches into a lovely piece of 30-count linen.

The project is “A Sheltering Tree” by All Through the Night. It is stitched on Weeks Dye Works #1201 Putty linen using Valdani hand overdyed Olive Green thread. I love the variation in color and value that comes from using only one overdyed thread!

I should have been working on my family history sampler, but my eyes weren’t up to 40-count fabric last night.

So instead, I started something that will hopefully work up fairly quickly – especially since I have two business trips in March that will provide a little airplane stitching time.

I’ve never used Valdani floss before. I need to use a bigger needle than I prefer to use, but it is stitching up nicely nonetheless.

I was a DMC girl for so many years. I have nearly every color in the DMC line. Who knew that I would ever need anything else? Then I became enamored with the hand dyed/ overdyed Gentle Arts, Weeks Dye Works, and Crescent flosses. More recently, over the past couple years I’ve added dozens of silk flosses to my collection. Love the silk!! I love the way it glides through those little holes. But I do love them all.

Thank goodness for "MagEyes". I just don't have the courage to wear them on the plane!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Basket Crazy

I found another UFO that should be so easy to finish up. It is “Basket Crazies” by Buggy Barn. Here’s a pic of their original quilt:

And here are my twelve blocks already set into rows like the original (but rows haven't been sewn together -- and the rows may end up in a different order when finished).

But here’s the dilemma. I’ve had them ready for sashing (between the rows only) and borders for several years (four or five, maybe?). But I can’t decide what fabric to use for the borders and row sashing. Every time I audition a fabric, it doesn’t seem to work. I’ve even taken the quilt blocks to my local quilt shops and nothing has seemed to work. So what to do?

Plan A: Re-set the blocks, so that rather be a quilt that is 4 blocks wide and 3 blocks high, it will be 3 blocks wide and 4 blocks high. That way I only need to figure out what to do with borders and don’t need to build in the extra height that comes from the row sashing to make the quilt square. It will be a vertical rectangular quilt.

Plan B: Keep looking for fabric in order to finish the quilt in the same manner as the original.

Plan C: Put it back into the cupboard for another year and worry about it then.

I'm leaning towards Plan A for now.

I started looking at quilts in the to-make queue, and I think I am a little bit basket crazy. Here's the evidence.

First, as you may recall from this post, I want to make Blackbird Designs basket quilt using the Antique Fair fabric I won from Carrie Nelson at Winterfest.

Second and third: While I was at Winterfest, I took two basket quilt classes. One was Trick or Treat from Blackbird Designs “When the Cold Wind Blows” book. It is made up of about 200 five-inch basket blocks.

It is the perfect hand appliqué project to take along with you because it is only two fabrics – basket and background. I finished only one block in class – not just because I was taking my sweet time, but because the two teachers were so fun to visit with and they did a mini-trunk show during class. Proof I made one basket block in class:

The other basket class was Jan Patek’s Blessings Baskets.This is her original.

I have sewn several of the rail fence blocks, but am only partly done with the basket on one of the appliquéd panels. I’m already thinking that I will not make my quilt as wide – two appliquéd panels, separated by rail fence blocks, and with inner border and rail-fence border. But we’ll see. I expect to do this one via machine appliqué, even though I began the first basket by hand in class.

So with these three plus the Buggy Barn quilt that is my current dilemma, that makes four basket quilts in the works.

But wait, there’s more! But at least this one is done! I can't find my pattern to remember who the designer was. It was a total stash quilt – except for backing. I would have pieced the backing, but I stumbled across this fabric that was just too perfect to pass up.

And how about this cute French Country Kitchen basket quilt. The top is done. I’ve got the backing. And the binding is even ready to put on – once this has been quilted. I know, it’s small enough that I have no excuse but to quilt it myself on the sewing machine. Maybe one of these days.

Oh and don’t forget A Tisket A Tasket that is currently being quilted.

And I just remembered, I started a basket block of the month a year or so ago with Homestead Hearth. It’s another Primitive Pieces by Lynda called “Gathering Baskets”. All I’ve done is sew a few half-square triangles for it.

So that makes seven basket quilts in various stages of completion. Good grief! If I only worked on basket quilts for the rest of 2011 I probably wouldn’t get them all done. But hopefully at least a couple will get finished!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

And the Winners Are...

Congratulations to the two winners of my first 2011 giveaway!

Jolene: You win the Schnibbles Tuffett pattern and Mary Engelbreit charm pack.

Loraine: You win the Homespun Hearth pattern and fabric.

Jolene and Loraine: Please send me your mailing addresses so I can get your “winnings” in the mail asap! (My e-mail address is available via my blog profile page.) The odds were pretty good since you both commented and are followers!

Thanks to everyone who stopped by and commented. It's been good to be back among all of your creative people! I hope life and work don’t get in the way of my keeping up with my own creative projects and staying in touch via the blog. I haven't had to travel at all in February, but already have two work trips scheduled for March and one for early April – so I know I won’t be quite as productive once my travel picks up again.

But I am getting some portable projects ready to take with me! Just need to figure out which to start with. That just have to be a topic for another blog post.

Two Baby Quilts

Two nieces-in-law (is that what you call the wife of a nephew?) are pregnant with baby boys, both due in April.

I dug out a partially finished top for a baby quilt for baby #1. The fabric is a novelty print called Busy Bees, by Tammy DeYoung. I added the border, and TA-DA – ready to be quilted. I have matching fabric for the back – so that this one will soon be checked off the list.

The other quilt will most likely be this Schnibble, one of the projects I took at the Heritage Quilters Winterfest retreat last month. This uses Spring Fling by Terry Atkinson and Liz Lois (from 2002!). I had already made a baby quilt with in a couple years ago, but had enough left to make this Schnibble.

But, now I’m auditioning fabric for the borders. Both candidate fabrics are from the same Spring Fling fabric line, but neither is used in the quilt itself. I have enough of both fabrics for borders (along with a narrower white inner border), but not enough of either to use for backing (unless pieced with other fabrics).

Option 1: Blue Spring Fling print

Option 2: Yellow Spring Fling tone-on-tone

Please feel free to share your opinions. I need some more “eyes” on this before I make the final decision. Whichever one I don't use will most likely become the binding fabric.

PS: I haven’t forgotten to do the drawings for the giveaway. I’ll be doing that right after my workday on Feb. 15th. (I had this post queued up to automatically post before the deadline for the giveaway came and went.)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentine WIPs, UFOs, or PHDs

Reminder to sign up for the giveaway by 10:00 pm mountain time on Valentines day! Click HERE.

Whatever you want to call them – “works in progress”, “unfinished objects”, or “projects half done”, I wrapped up two this weekend.

The first, Lauri Bird’s (Rose Cottage Quilts) Heart to Heart quilt. I’ve had the blocks done for about a year – using a variety of Mary Engelbreit fabrics, but didn’t have the right fabric for the sashing. I really wanted a black and white pin-dot fabric – which I finally found online. So last Thursday night I finally got the quilt set and the borders done.


The next is another quilt that has been waiting for its border for ages. I had been putting off completing the border on this darling flannel heart quilt because I didn’t want to sew those equilateral triangles together for the border. The quilt designer didn’t give very precise instructions for the borders – just sew the triangles together, attach to quilt and hack off the extra! So that’s what I did. I guess that’s why she decided to appliqué flowers at the corners – to cover up the many converging seams. So, yes, I ended up adding appliqués as well. However, I haven’t done any centers for the flowers. After the quilt has been quilted, I’m going to sew some cute buttons on as flower centers.

I’m not sure who will receive the appliquéd heart quilt, but the flannel heart quilt will go to my niece Jenny who got married last June. Yes, I’m way behind on wedding gift quilts! With this one ready to be quilted, I’m only behind by one wedding quilt in celebration of a wedding that took place just over a month ago. Just need to decide what to make for this darling couple, my nephew and his bride.

Since these are both heart quilts, it’s only appropriate that I finished them up just in time for Valentine’s day! Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!


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