Thursday, February 15, 2018

New Quilt -- A Temperature Quilt

Last time we talked, several of you gave me permission to start a new quilt!!
Thanks!!
Okay, it was already started and it's a Temperature Quilt!!
Seems perfect for someone who spends some of every day outside birding, walking or stitching in my garden -- but before I share that with you . . . . check this out!
We are having a thaw this week.  The rivers are racing and the birds are very active -- so a walk at one of my favorite birding spots was in order.  One of the perks of winter walking is all the deer trails that are exposed making it easier to wander into little wildernesses.  I followed several this morning.
One led out to the river bank and there on a long narrow island in the river were two large brown lumps -- about the size of a Labrador retriever on very short legs -- beaver!! 
Fortunately I had my camera with me and was able to zoom in for close-ups!
They were both grooming. 
My excitement arises from never having seen an entire beaver in the wild at such close range.  They are bigger than I realized. 
Usually all I see is a head and tail moving away on the few occasions we've startled one when kayaking.  What a thrill!!  
So back to the "temperature" quilt.  My first exposure to this idea was NeedledMom's blogpost (HERE) sharing the results of her and her sister's 2017 versions. They made a flying goose unit using the high and low temperature each day to determine the colors to be used from a run of 36 solid colors -- each color represents a range of 4 degrees Fahrenheit.
I was intrigued!!
I translated their color chart into prints from my stash -- MUST use what I have!!
All the prints are labeled with a letter which coordinates to the chart I created to keep on track. 
I started with January 1 to make a 2018 quilt and in one of my "creative merger" inspirations, I am doing an appliqued free-form drunkards block unit.  This is just over 5 weeks -- the white circles are full moons because I pay attention to those (since they make me and everyone around me weird.)
Every morning, I check the high and low for the previous day at wunderground.com
and when I've accumulated a few days, I cut the pieces and leave them on the arm of my recliner for hand stitching.
I started "googling" temperature quilt and found there are variations of this (including a knitting one) and read a blog about a gal making one for the first year in their new house, so she's already over half finished!!  I just had one of those big birthdays so now I'm doing it from last summer's big birthday to this summer's birthday -- the beginning of a new decade in fabric.  I've dug around on the internet and found historic weather records of high and low temperatures for the nearest large city so now I'm prepping two or three days every day and stitching every evening to catch up.
Quick look at what I'm doing -- the low temperature for the day is a 3 1/2" cut square and the high temperature is a 3" cut square.
I write the date on the back of the large square since I'm working on several each day
I cut the arc freehand -- loving this!! 
That way none of the arcs are identical.
Here's a close-up of some of the stitched blocks.
I'm using a running stitch with a double strand of cotton thread.
Easy and fun plus I can now justify splurging on these two boxes of Superior Threads Super Bobs!!
I'm trimming out the "background" after the applique is stitched and saving those pieces to use as many as I can for the "high" temperature on future blocks.  That's making the arcs even more random and spontaneous.
My nature nerdiness (read, concerned about global warming) began to wonder what a historical temperature quilt would look like . . . . say for the year I was born!? So a smaller, simpler piece is happening simultaneously for the first 366 days (it was a leap year) of my life.  I think it will end up as part of the back of current year's quilt.
Looking forward to seeing what this looks like in the end!  Interestingly, the high's and low's were identical on the day I was born as they were on my birthday last summer -- what does that say?

Looking forward to painting in the coming week -- not really, but it needs to be done!
Have a good stitching weekend!!
Mary





Saturday, February 10, 2018

Project Quilting 9 -- the Bold and Brave Challenge

Once again, I found myself creating a piece for this week's Project Quilting 9 challenge that I didn't mean to start! I woke up Friday morning with an inspiration from a friend's story about his ancestors. Once I got started, I could not stop and last evening, I finished the binding -- I made the entire piece in just one day without leaving the studio!!
So first the story, then the quilt.

Two of my long time birding friends and I often exchange genealogy stories as we all three spend time seeking ancestors.  I recently discovered that quite a few of my husband's ancestors came to New England in the mid-1600's when it was still a wild place.  I find myself pondering what it would have been like to leave everything one knows, get into a cramped wooded ship, and sail for weeks to a wilderness with nothing familiar in the anticipation of having a "better life", trusting that someone knows what they are doing!  
Hard for any of us to imagine on any level.  
Such brave people!! 

Last week, my friend shared his latest discovery with me.  He is French Canadian and several of his 7th and 8th great grandmothers came to New France (Canada) to marry colonists and soldiers who were already settled in the region.  From 1635 to 1662, 262 young ladies, the "Filles a Marrier" (marriageable girls) came to Canada having set up contracts in France with eligible bachelors in Quebec and hoping for the best.  In 1663, King Louis XIV began to send "Filles du Roi" (The King's Daughters) along with a dowry to marry men who were sent over a year or so earlier to subdue the Iroquois Indians.  About 740 women arrived in Canada over the next 10 years.  When Paul told me about this, he had found 41 of his ancestors on these lists.  Yesterday, when we talked, he was up to 53 from the King's Daughters and 27 from the marriageable girls lists.  Isn't that amazing?  10% of his 7th and 8th great-grandmothers came to Quebec between 1635 and 1663 as young unmarried women under circumstances that we would find totally unacceptable in this day and age. 
Now if that's not BRAVE, I don't know what is!?!

When he first told me the story, he had found 41 of his grandmothers on the list.  
I'm calling this piece "Les Filles Courageuses" -- The Brave Girls. 
 It features a wreath of 41 hexagons surrounding a central hexie that represents my friend.
It's another one of my "creative mergers" -- stories or images merge with my skills and stash and result in a unique piece that comes together quickly.  I wasn't consciously trying to merge any of these elements, but here they were calling out to unite in a creative burst of energy

This floral charm pack of cotton lawns has been sitting on my cutting table with the hexagon template for a couple months waiting for me to try piecing with cotton lawns.  
And I can't count the number of times I've saved and pinned quilts made using Nicole Daksiewicz Modern Hexagons pattern -- check it out HERE.
And here was a story inspiration -- 41 grandmothers!
It just took a few minutes to "sketch" a hexagon motif in Electric Quilt that used 42 hexagons.
I used the template to roughly trim the squares down a bit and then made two heat-resistant plastic templates for prepping the patches.
I used spray starch to press under the seam allowances and find the quickest way is to spray a little puddle of it onto the template, then smear it out into the seam allowances. 
I've found it's easier to work using my small travel iron for this job.
It's always takes a few minutes to find my rhythm, but once I do, it's not a bad job -- a good book on tape helps alleviate the boredom, too! 
The cotton lawn was easier to set the seam allowances with the starch than standard quilt cottons -- the pack didn't have 42 florals so I had to do some scrap basket diving to round out the number.
I pulled potential backgrounds out of my stash and started tossing the prepared hexies onto them to get a feel for which would work best.
In the end, I chose two prints and made a large pieced hexagon background.  The center print is a dreary looking landscape print to represent the wilderness that the "filles courageuses" were entering in New France and the outer one is a lovely soft monochromatic floral representing the familiar landscape of France. 
I sorted the prepped hexies into three groups by value and color before beginning the layout process -- mostly pinks, mostly greens and mixed darks.
I laid out three rings to organize the spacing and then lifted off the center ring to use as the outer spokes.
Once the placement was organized, I glued each hexie in position.
My layout needed 42 hexagons, but I only used 41 to stay true to the story.
I layered the piece up, marked stitching lines and worked with my walking foot to attach the hexagons permanently and quilt the piece at the same time. 
Here's Paul, my birding friend, surrounded by his "filles courageuses" -- women who bravely left France to come alongside unknown men and give birth to children who would grow and prosper into the future. 
It measures 23" by 27" and will make a charming table centerpiece mat.
I've used that little charm pack!!
I used up some more stash!
I satisfied the itch to make "modern hexagons" and I didn't create a UFO!!

Linking up with the other Project Quilting 9.3 creators HERE!!
Thanks to Kim and Trish for another fun challenge I didn't think I could meet!!

I'll close with an interesting fact -- we all have 256 seventh great-grandmothers and 512 eighth great- grandmothers.  Isn't that comforting -- to have so many grandmothers!!
  How did their bravery give you a future?

Mary Huey









Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The No Ancient UFO's Quest Continues

After 36 hours of being totally distracted by the presence of this Northern Shrike at one of my local birding patches, I'm back in the studio.  This tundra-nesting, circumpolar bird is an occasional winter visitor in Northern Ohio.  I don't see them annually so went a little over the top about it.
Have been out twice more to see it again!
My goal this week was to get that ancient flower basket quilt ready to send out for quilting.
The HST's I made last week made a lovely sawtooth border.  I inserted a blank at the midpoint of the lengthwise borders where I reversed the direction of the HST's -- not enough space for two HST's -- but I don't like it so I'm going to applique a square on point to camouflage them.
I found 3 missing flower cents while adding the sawtooth borders.
I rediscovered this set of circle templates and got organized to remedy that!
Next job -- add the large floral print borders!  Happily I hoarded 3 yards of this beauty back in 1999!!
I used four 8" wide strips lengthwise that were cut long enough to miter the corners.
Mitering is so easy with Marti Michell's Miter Rulers!  They come in two sizes -- this is the 8" by 24" one.  You can see I've marked the cutting line and pinned the ends in preparation for stitching.  
After the stitching is completed and I check to be sure everything is done correctly, I'll cut off the corners.  Here's a link to Marti's explanation of how to use this tool.
It's fool proof when done correctly and I miter lots more borders as a result!
Here is the finished top!!
I even have some ideas of how I want it quilted!!
Feathers, feathers, feathers!!
I found almost enough of this beauty in the hoard to make the backing (dates from 2002) and so I'm ready to send off another ancient UFO!!
Does this mean I get to start another (new) project?
Mary










Friday, February 2, 2018

Time To Review and Adjust!

This year I'm going to try a new strategy of reviewing at the end of each month to assess my progress in order to adjust my plans for the coming month (this post is written mostly for my benefit so you are excused if you want to skip reading it).  I hope this keeps me on track to reduce the quantity of UFO's in a big way in 2018!

I achieved my January target to finish or re-purpose 10% of my UFO's -- 4 old projects were finished by me and another sent out to a long-arm quilter.  I gave 6 others to my charity quilt making gang with downsized plans for finishing each one -- less guilt for me and quicker makes for them (I hope)!!

However, before we begin all the "high-five-ing" -- you need to know that I also started five projects during January that weren't finished during January -- so does that water my success down a bit?  Perhaps, but (there's always a "but", isn't there?) . . . . one is a long term project that requires a little work every couple days and is going to be so cool!! I
It's a temperature quilt -- see it growing at the top of my design wall?
(The "rose star" blocks below are my current chain-piecing "sew-offs" -- only two blocks left to go so it they should be ready to set together sometime in February -- UFO progress!!)
Another start are two new shirts I cut out during the retreat a couple weeks ago.  I finished one on February 1 to get the month off to an upbeat start.  It's Itch-to-Stitch's Uvita top -- visit her on-line pattern shop HERE -- it was a quick make and fits well!! I used a Birch organic cotton knit I grabbed during the crazy year end sales at FABRICWORM.  
It will be perfect for our winter-to-spring weather here in Northeast Ohio.
I was "sucked" into @naomialicec #fussycuttingsewalong on Instagram in spite of the fact that she started off the year with "purple" (not my favorite color) -- she is using hexies and I can knock those out quickly by machine -- one, maybe two hours a week!!  It's a year long affair and will give me a cluster of 52 hexie flowers.  I'm using my reproduction stash (no shopping necessary) and the inspirations of the too tempting #libbymorganmosaicquilt (check out that hashtag on Instagram) posts of several other Instagram friends.
Two birds, one stone?
 I had to start a new "teaching sample" for an EPP workshop in August -- I've been using that excuse for 40 years and it always works?!?   Fascinated with the fabric -- Big Sky from a Moda Fabrics scrap bag -- and rather like this spontaneous arrangement but not sure where it's going?  Stay tuned.
I stalled out for a second time on the quilting of the blue/yellow UFO, but with just the borders left to do, I'm leaving it hang on the back of my work chair to make it harder to ignore!
The quilt under the needle is a twin size charity piece I'm finishing -- look for it soon!!
This circa 1998 UFO is at the top of the "to-do" list.  It's going to be turned over for long-arm quilting, so waiting for the "I'm ready" call is keeping me motivated!
I finished the applique during my hand-stitching weekend!!
(I think I also realized that BIG hand applique projects which I love to look at might not generate the type of enthusiasm in me needed to complete BIG applique projects -- hmmm??) 
Was that just a "life lesson" learned??
Yesterday I pieced and cut a stack of HST's for the sawtooth border and hope to finish this top over the weekend!! 
I also realized that keeping projects on the shelf for 20 years is an effective way of "hiding" really lovely fabrics!?! Is that a good thing?
Indications are that I'm not going to quit starting new projects and the big UFO's still here are ones I want to finish so confining myself to small new starts for the time being while staying focused on finishing more UFO's is a good way to move through February!
I've made a list of five likely UFO finishes for the month!
Shall I go for another 10% reduction in UFO's?
It would only be 9!!

Enjoy your weekend! 
 I think mine's going to be pretty busy!!

Mary







Monday, January 29, 2018

Opal Essence Finish!!

While it's not my first finish of 2018, Opal Essence (pattern from Lorena Uriarte) is January's "one monthly goal" finish!
The deadline of getting it ready to exhibit in the "workshop" section for the upcoming regional quilt show keep me moving on this one.  Saturday it was time to ponder the binding -- my first inclination was black, but when this hank of binding left over from a project last fall caught my eye, that changed!  (As you can see, I neither press my binding in half or roll it up tidy before working with it.)
And there was almost exactly enough!?!
Several years ago, during one my stash busting marathons, I realized that some of my projects stall because I can't find the perfect fabric or more of "that" fabric.  So the rule became, you have one week to find what you think you want to use and then you have to settle for the best available alternative.  Interestingly, as time goes by, that process gets faster and faster for me.
The almost perfect stripe was in place almost before I could hesitate.
Now it's perfect!!
Here's a tip for simplifying the mitering process when hand stitching the back side of your binding in place.  Stitch all the way to the edge of the quilt.
Now when you fold the adjacent edge into place, everything is snug underneath and a perfect miter is almost guaranteed!!
Look at that!! 
I wrote a post a couple years ago on how I handle the corners while doing the first round of stitching the binding by machine -- click HERE to check that out!
With the binding finished, I used a permanent fabric pen to write out a "label" onto the backing -- adding on labels is lovely but I skip them pretty regularly so this is a simple and good alternative.
And how about that backing fabric??
From my hoard, couldn't cut it up for anything, don't want it to be in the "big yard sale".
Perfect backing!!
Most of the quilting is done by machine but I used some silk pearle cotton weight thread my mother brought me from Europe years ago to stitch circles inside the circles! 
Our world is pretty brown right now -- waiting for snow but by then the light would be gone outdoors so here it is in my brown backyard.   Tomorrow it's off to hang at the show for a couple weeks and recruit students. 
In the meantime, I've started organizing some demonstration samples in other colors palettes to expand my students' perception of the design.  This cluster of blues and aquas is a mixture of modern prints and reproductions -- working with what I have for the sake of my students!!
Looks fine!
Lots of yellow arcs for the circles. 
And I'm refreshing my applique skill set by using freezer paper with this group.
Linking up over at Elm Street Quilts One Monthly Goal HERE!!
Need Lorena's pattern -- click HERE to get to her shop -- it's a downloadable PDF so you can be working on your version tonight!!

Next!!
Mary