Friday, May 17, 2024

Scrappy Stars, Scrappy Nine-Patch Blocks

It feels like I haven't accomplished much these past few weeks (or months).  I'm slow, slow, slow.

I'm making scrappy stars (a la Taryn of Repro Quilt Lover).  I intended them as leaders/enders but find myself cutting, piecing, and stitching them even without sewing anything else.  This one is my favorite so far.
They will finish at 6".  I love that the triangles in the stars can be made from either 1½" strips or from some already cut triangles.  And I love the scrappiness of them.

I'm making ones with warm colors now, reds, oranges, yellows and variations of those colors, and setting aside the cool colors for later.  (Unless I change my mind and decide to combine them.)  I have eleven red stars so far.

I've also been making scrappy nine-patch blocks, also a la Taryn.  She's currently hosting a sew-along based on an antique quilt.  Mine are scrappier than the ones in the quilt.  I chose to use autumn tones for these.  I hope they all play well together.  I'm making 3" blocks.
Adding these 20 blocks to the ones I have gives me a total of 98.  I need 204, if I alternate them with a solid/print fabric.  I haven't chosen a fabric yet, or even a color.  I also haven't decided whether to do a straight or on-point set. No problem.  I have as many to make as I've already made.  It will be a while before I start sewing completed blocks together.

Much of my time these days seems to be devoted to doctors' and medical appointments:  primary care physician, orthopedic surgeon (first knee replacement coming at the end of June), spine specialist (with upcoming physical therapy), dentist, gynecologist, mammogram, bone density scan, podiatrist, dermatologist.  My body is falling apart during this 3/4 century year! 

Our weather has been variable.  This week we had two grey and rainy days, so dark during the day that I needed to turn on the lights to see.  Temperatures have been in the mid-70s part of the week, so it's been mostly great weather.  I have to say I love those grey and rainy days, as long as there aren't too many in a row!  I'm wondering what weather the summer will bring.

I hope you're doing well!

I'm linking this post to Finished (or not) Friday at Alycia Quilts.  Thanks for hosting, Alycia.

--Nancy.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Bramble Blooms I, Unfinished

I'm a slowpoke (maybe the only one?) making Bramble Blooms I.  At the best of times I make decisions slowly and carefully, considering options and possibilities.  These days I'm low on motivation, energy, and creativity, so the decisions are taking longer and I find they may not be the best choices.  Anyway, with a May 14 deadline to post our finishes at the link-up on Audrey's blog, Quilty Folk, I put Bramble Blooms back on the floor for further consideration and decisions.

My Bramble Blooms and I were not happy with our first border efforts.  You can see them here.  The border is too wide at 7", the brown is too dark, the appliques make it too busy/are disjointed/just odd....   I will make it into a bed-sized quilt but I realized that adding two wide borders to a 21" x 28" center is not the way for it to become a bed-sized quilt.  I think this first border, at least, should be narrower, and then a wider border, or perhaps several more  borders of different widths. 

I didn't get any further than considering three other border colors and leaves for the applique (my daughter and the kitties are coming for an unexpected visit so I had to take the quilt up from the floor).  One of my problems is that I have too few mid-range fabrics but plenty of dark/intense colors and a good sampling of lights.... 

I think this red may be too bright, too intense?  I like it but I just don't think it's quite right.  (Yet.)  And do those leaves look "dotty" to you?  Well, if they were green there wouldn't be such a contrast against the red.  I imagined green leaves but only had two to lay on the quilt.  I cut the rest out of paper just to try out the arrangement/placement.  And what would I do for the next border of 4- or 9-patch blocks?!

Maybe a blue border?  In person I like the narrow red strip between the inner and outer borders but in the photo, not so much.  The green leaves show up not at all.  But off-white/cream colored leaves?  At first I said absolutely not but then realized that I could do anything I want--my quilt, my choice.  Do I want light leaves?  Do I want leaves at all, or some other motif?

And then there's this light, creamish border....  It looks too bland, I think.  All three of the borders in these photos are 4"-5" wide, so 2-3" narrower than the brown border in the photo at the link above.

It all comes down to making a quilt I like, not just a quilt that follows the prompts.  And yet, I know going with the prompts will stretch me creatively, so I don't want to disregard the prompts, either.  (A number of years ago I made another prompt-drive quilt with Lori's Humble Quilts Gwenny-Inspired Medallion Quilt-Along.  See it here.)

I don't know where this Bramble Blooms is going.  I kept thinking I would put solid arcs in red around the edges, not as big as the ones on the brown border, maybe half-circles or 3/4 circles that don't curve in at the bottom, but trying those out didn't seem quite right, either.  The quilt and I will figure this out, sooner or later.  I appreciate Audrey's comment, "There is no shame that some projects just take their own sweet time!"

If you have thoughts, observations, opinions, suggestions or any other comments, I welcome and would be thrilled to read them.  You probably notice something I didn't or have an idea that hasn't come to my mind.

You can see all the other Bramble Blooms participants' quilt here at Audrey's blog, Quilty Folk.  Thanks so much for hosting this sew-along, Audrey, and for the challenges and opportunities it's created for me to grow and push myself out of my comfort zones.  I feel a growth spurt coming soon. 

--Nancy.

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Links to Enjoy #24

Here are just a few links and a video I found interesting and enjoyed over the past week or two.  Maybe one of these  will capture your interest, too.


Maybe you will enjoy Judy Martin's brief post, a language of care, with its gentle thoughts about quilts. 


Althea Crome is a micro knitter who creates sweaters that fit on a fingertip!  Watch a video interview and see her knitting at Tiny Stitches.  Read more here


I have always been fascinated by bird nests, how they're created, and how remain intact when so many are made of mud and sticks, bits of debris, etc.  But I think woven nests are the most amazing.  How can birds possibly create a nest with only a beak and claws?!  Watch!




And since we're on the topic of birds, can I mention how beautiful I think feathers are?  I enjoy looking at them, often pick them up from the ground, and rarely keep them (except for a few too beautiful not to save.  But there's a lot more to feathers than I ever imagined.  I enjoyed this article, Why Feathers Are One of Evolution's Cleverest Inventions, by Michael B. Habib in Scientific American, in which the author tells of a small bird that made a non-stop flight of 8,425 miles in 250 hours and how his feathers played a part in that flight.  The article is filled with information about the wonder of feathers.  Though a little long, it was well worth my time. 


Enjoy!
--Nancy.

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Slow Sunday Stitching

Today I'll be appliqueing this block.  The two stems on the right are finished and I just started stitching the stem on the left.  I fold over and pin pieces (the leaf and the flower) if they're in the way.  After the stems are stitched, I'll finish the inside of the basket handle, then sew the leaves, and finally the flowers.
I'm amazed at the detail an enlarged photo will show compared to what I see through my glasses.  I was surprised to realize that some of the pins look like they are rusty!  What?!  I can't feel the rust with my fingers nor see the rust when I look at them.  I suppose I should get rid of those pins, don't you think?  Leave them in longer than a week and I'll have a rusty zinnia.  (If you want to see, you can click the photo to open it in another tab, then click again to enlarge.)

I may also continue quilting Everyday Patchwork.  I haven't put a stitch in this for several weeks, at least.
I was going to post last week for Slow Sunday Stitching but didn't manage it.  Below is the block I was stitching, which is now finished.  (Though no photo of its finish.) 
I added another leaf on the right side of the stem on the right.

I don't see any rusty pin in this block, below.

It seems that summer has waltzed into town.  We've had a beautiful, relaxed, and slow early spring.  Lately the temperatures have been in the mid-60s and low 70s, but today it's in the 80s, and probably will be for the next week or so, if my weather app is correct.  It's time for short sleeves, at least for now.  It could be in the 50s again in two weeks.

I'm sorry to have learned of the death of one of my blogging friends.  Susan Nixon, who blogged at Desert Sky Quilts, passed away last week.  She'd fought cancer for several years.  Rest in peace, Susan.  Maybe you knew her?

I'm linking this post to Slow Sunday Stitching at Kathy's Quilts.  Click through to see others' handwork.  Thanks for hosting, Kathy.

--Nancy.

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Links to Enjoy #23

I hope at least one or two of these links bring a smile.

Some of my favorite water animals include otters, seals, sea lions, and walruses.  I think it's their beards that capture my fancy.  I was really taken with E.T., the walrus.  Who knew walruses could whistle?!



(Just to say, I'm not a fan of zoos in general but I understand the need for injured animals who can't return to the wild to have care and a safe environment.  I also understand that zoo keepers teach them a few commands so veterinarians can attend them.  And I'm sure learning things makes the animals' lives a little more interesting.)

The photos of the Farm Family Project by Rob MacInnis are amazing!   How did he ever get the members of The Farm Family to pose?  I'd love to nestle my fingers into Angelina's fine fluff, scratch Brad's ears, and give Rosie a hug and a rub on her head.  The cast would certainly get a round of applause from me on Opening Night.  MacInnis must have a special gift to have been able to get the whole cast of characters to look at the camera at the same time in the last photo.  It's hardly possible with a group of people!   Read the Artist's Statement here.

If this article about Trader Joe's from Taste magazine is true, it's sad news.  (So, not exactly a link to enjoy, I guess.)

I loved Jacob's vibrant flowers in Glorious Blooms Erupt in Nidhi Mariam Jacob’s Meticulous Fantasy Garden Paintings.  Maybe you will, too.  

--Nancy.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

This and That

Last week I needed some slow, portable hand stitching that didn't require much thinking.  I pulled out several of these little plaid baskets with zinnias and stitched while I listened to and watched a conference online.
I finished these two, above and below.  They are crooked because of the angle of the camera--they really do have perpendicular edges with square corners.
Below is one that's still in progress.  The colors of all these baskets are much more vibrant in person.
I think I still have half as many basket blocks to finish as are finished but I'm beginning to think of how to set them.  Maybe several scrappy borders around them, but no decisions yet.  There's still plenty of time.

My favorite iron that I've ever owned is this Hamilton Beach with auto shut-off, Model 1421OR.
It heated in less than a minute, stayed on an hour before shutting off (auto shut-off required for me because I forget to turn off my iron), and had a button to push to wind the cord into a storage spot at the bottom (something new to me).  I don't use the steam feature.  I've had a lot of different irons in my lifetime, including a Rowenta (that sparked).  Sadly, I set this one too close to the edge of the ironing board one day and it fell.  I almost caught it.  When it landed on the floor the light stayed on and I thought it was still working, but then the light went out and it was dead.  I was so sad.  I bought another Hamilton Beach with similar features.  I hope it turns out to be as good.

Fruit trees are in bloom all around us, but we lost two of our three cherry trees last year to disease.  The third and remaining tree has a few blossoms.  In past years they looked bounteous. 
Did you watch the eclipse last Monday, the 8th?  We were a few miles outside the path of totality so drove about 30 or 45 minutes to a nearby small town to see it and sat in the parking lot of thrift store we often visit. 
Totality lasted only two minutes, and it was amazing.  The sky did not get as black as in some of the photos I've seen online.  Instead, it was like sunset in all directions toward the horizon--at 2:00 in the afternoon.  I doubt I'll be alive in 2045 to see the next one so I'm glad to have seen this one.

Bramble Blooms is on hold at the moment while I try to imagine possibilities.  I'm actually considering redoing the first border.  I'm really such a slow thinker when it comes to creating quilts....

I'm making slow progress on Everyday Patchwork.  I'm beginning to wonder if I really like hand quilting as much as I thought I did.  But if not hand quilted, what?  Not machine quilted, but maybe big stitch or tied quilts?  Or maybe make the tops, enjoy the process, then pass them on to an organization that has people who will quilt and bind them or turn them into comforters.  I have such a stack of quilts to be quilted!

I hope things are great for you!

--Nancy.

Friday, March 22, 2024

Bramble Blooms and Little Outings

A few weeks ago Audrey posted the prompt for the final border for Bramble Blooms I.  I anticipated the repeated block but I did not anticipate 4-, 9-, or 12-patch blocks.  Her quilt looks fabulous with 12-patch blocks and so do several others I've seen online.  But mine?  I'm not so sure.  Does a picnic blanket or a gingham tablecloth come to mind?
Bramble Blooms I in progress
I'm faced with two challenges.  The first is that I forgot to add a half inch to my measurements to allow for seams.  Right now what I have measures 40" x 48".  (Not 40½" x 48½"!)  The other challenge is that I want a quilt that is at least 60" x 80".  If there is only this last border, it will have to measure at least 10" on each side and at least 16" top and bottom or 32" divided two ways for the top and bottom borders

This is the first iteration, just playing, seeing how the colors look, etc.  The border squares in the photo are 3".  Much too large, far out of proportion.  So those are a no.  But what to do?  I feel like I've backed myself into a corner with the large appliques and that wide brown border.  Hmmm.

Maybe the quilt needs several narrower borders.  Maybe the squares won't have right-angle corners.  Maybe I should try a variety of reds, maybe without alternating lights.  Perhaps a medium width teal border, then 2" squares into 9- or 12-patches, and another border, maybe with applique.  Do you ever begin a quilt of your own design with strong ideas about how it will look when it's finished?  Me, too, but this isn't that process. 

I don't know what I'm doing.  I look at this and I think, "Oh my gosh, what have I done?"  At least I still love the center.  And I remind myself of Audrey's thought (paraphrased) that out of the three quilts in this series we're bound to fall in love with one of them.

I put this on the floor last week, took photos, and picked it up while my daughter and her kitties were here.  They're gone again and I have exactly two weeks to consider and hopefully make some decisions until I have to pick it up.  They'll come again in two Fridays. 

If you've read this far, thank you!  Please know that this post is a thinking-out-loud, rambling in my brain post, but I would love to hear (read) any thoughts, suggestions, or observations you may have for this quilt in progress.

The Little Outings

Our local library offers "culture passes" which are checked out like books and allow library patrons to visit various places of interest at no cost.  When we only want to spend an hour or two somewhere, it's great to have these free passes.  I suppose this tells you what I've been doing instead of sewing.

Two weeks ago we went to the Columbus Museum of Art.  It was a beautiful old building, and part of it still is, but they built a modern addition around part of it.  I love it when architects maintain the integrity of old buildings, but at least they didn't take down any of the old walls.  There's a section where the outside of the old building is now inside the new addition. 

This green and white quilt was on display.  The information called it "Sawtooth Diamond in a Square Quilt" and told us it was made of wool challis by an unidentified Amish maker between about 1910 and 1940.  The first photo is a detail of the quilting in the corners and the next is the whole quilt.  I think the quilting is an unusual motif on an Amish quilt.
Sawtooth Diamond in a Square Quilt at Columbus Museum of Art
Sawtooth Diamond in a Square Quilt at Columbus Museum of Art
This is part of the ceiling in the old building.   So much detail!  I'm generally not a fan of blues but they are perfect in this setting.
ceiling in the old part of the Columbus Museum of Art

I think museum directors of Columbus love Dale Chihuly's work.  This is one of several pieces we saw at the Museum of Art.  I'm sure it has a name but I didn't see a sign.
a Chihuly piece at the Columbus Museum of Art
This past Tuesday we went to the Franklin Park Conservatory.   It is a huge, mostly glass building filled with plants, art, and, at this time of year, there is a garden room with butterflies.  My photos of the butterflies and chrysalises did not come out well, but there were at least 50 varieties.  and because this post is so long, I'm not including many plants.

More Chihuly.  This was in a stairwell.  I think the circles are between 18" and 24" but they could be larger.  No small feat to invisibly suspend that much weight of fragile glass!
a Chihuly piece at the Franklin Park Conservatory
This is another Chihuly piece that was suspended from the ceiling.  They are individual shapes grouped closely together.  Thank goodness there's no wind in the building.
a Chihuly piece at the Franklin Park Conservatory
And the last Chihuly photo.  These shapes are at least 36" across.   They were beautiful!

a Chihuly piece at the Franklin Park Conservatory
The Conservatory is divided into rooms with various growing conditions.  I thought these orchids were beautiful.  They reminded me of old, aged silk.orchids at the Franklin Park Conservatory I took a few photos of other plants but this post is already so long....

Great news is that spring is in evidence all around me.  Daffodils, crocuses, forsythia are in bloom.  And many of the bushes have sprouts on them.  Have you ever noticed that spring turns green from the ground up?  First the grass, then flowers that are close to the ground then taller flowers, then bushes and shrubs, and finally the trees leaf out into green glory.  Isn't nature amazing?!

I don't know what kind of blooms these are--maybe witch hazel?--but I thought they were fun.  Almost like starbursts. 
We've had some sunny days, partly sunny days, and cloudy, rainy days these past weeks.  We've also had snowflakes and weather into the 60s.  An Ohio spring!  Except it's earlier this year than most years. 
Thanks for visiting and reading!  (And leaving comments, if you do.)

I'm linking this post to
Finished or Not Friday at Alycia Quilts
Off the Wall Friday at Creations by Nina Marie (any creative effort)
Thank you for hosting, ladies.

--Nancy.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Links to Enjoy #22

I haven't been around the internet much these past few weeks, or the sewing machine either, for that matter, so I have only three links to share.  I hope you enjoy them.  (I'm sorry they're all videos, but they're short, if that helps.)

Oh, roundabouts.  I don't like them.  I still think a red/yellow flashing light or even a stop sign works better than a roundabout.  There is one large one in the country not far from us with fields on all four of what-used-to-be corners.  It seems a silly waste of money because there is so little traffic.  Then there is one in a residential area of the city on a narrow side street.  It's probably not more than about 12 feet across.  Another waste of money (in my opinion) and almost a u-turn when a simple left turn was adequate.  And many Ohio drivers don't know how to use them.  Some drivers will sit at the entrance to the roundabout until there are no cars in sight, wait another minute or two, then slowly move into the circle.  I'm happy to drive but I really don't like to waste time in the car.  Let me just get where I'm going.  All that to introduce this roundabout in Swindon, England.  If I go to England, I will avoid Swindon.


Are you a fan of roundabouts?

I used to think making a wine glass sing was a stunt or a trick. Then we bought a few goblets at the thrift store just to try it and learned that they really do sing, though I don't think we ever managed to "play" a song.  We learned that it requires wet fingertips.  (In the video below you'll see the musician dip his fingers into the glasses of water near the center front and rear of the table.)  Our paltry effort was nothing compared to the expertise of this musician.



And then there's the glass armonica, created by Benjamin Franklin, an instrument in which he put glass rims on a revolving rod which rotates for the musician to play.  Amazing!  Many years ago we saw someone play one of these at Colonial Williamsburg.



I think these have such an ethereal sound.

That's it for this installment of Links to Enjoy.  I hope you enjoyed at least one.

--Nancy.
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