Monday, December 30, 2013

Twelve hours, and I didn't want to quit!!!

It was another 5AM alarm that eagerly roused me from bed (although I had been awake since about 4:30 again).  **sigh** I will miss this stress-free living once Thursday rolls around and I need to head back to school :\

Dishes, coffee, bagel... the same routine.
Kisses to Paul at 5:45...
and then, it was time to get RSC12 taken care of!!! (with the Missouri Quilt Company tutorials playing in the background).  I actually followed one of those YouTube ads to this 'station.'  Heaven knows I didn't need to really watch any of the tutorials, but... it was decent background noise.  
I kept looking at the picture of the design wall last night, and I really was becoming partial to the small diamondy alternating blocks.  BUT, I'm also a symmetrical person at heart, SO I started the day by making up two more string blocks:  light greens and light purples.
BUT, maybe you can figure out what was wrong with the plan of adding those blocks to the left end of row #2 and row #4....

I didn't even take a picture of the design wall, but.......
the plan in my head ..... well, it was broken :(  By adding those two blocks to the left end of #2 and #4, I created a big 12" gap in rows #1, 3, & 5.  
That was no good....

Ho hum, ho hum....
Well, at least I had 12 blocks now, SO, I simply put them in a 3x4 layout, and pieced 'em together!

I didn't use paper-backing for the string piecing;  rather I used some bleached muslin as the foundation. Now I understand when Bonnie mentions how heavy the tops become when using fabric as the foundation.  I clearly had to press the seams open for this entire quilt.

And then came time to play with border options.
Those lil' diamonds ended up working just about PERFECTLY as an outer border, but first, a small inner border was needed.
And dog-gone-it!  I figured I could use my design wall to "measure" out my border strips, but... that's one heavy quilt top!  And it kept falling to the floor.

Therefore, it was time to move the quilt to the floor for border treatments.

Only, there was one small problem...

My floor space was occupied with Christmas Goose.  It's been there...waiting ever so patiently for weeks.
Alright lil' quilt!  You deserved to be pieced!
Christmas Goose (72" x 91")
I'm not 100% sold yet on it being completely done.  There's something I like about having one final border to seal it all off.  But, .... then again, it's pretty cool the way it is.  What's the standard Queen size quilt measurements, anyway???

Pretty neat finish considering this is where it all began.  Men's shirts.  Thanks Bonnie!!!!!!

And before I went back to quilting work, 
I gave the basement carpet (aka: my design floor carpet) a good vacuuming.
Rainbow Diamonds (50" x 62")
Which meant I could lay out RSC14 -- Rainbow Diamonds without worry of loose strings or other debris!  

Do I like it?  You bet'cha!  I think it'll be FUN for a little girl!  Now... to find (or wait for) a recipient.

And then, Nancy jingled through Facebook Skype, and we spent an hour sewing together...
LOL -- Heya Nancy -- Guess I shoulda looked at the snapshot right away...
It took me awhile to figure out exactly what I wanted to work on.  
My design wall was empty.
I didn't want to work on any more floor layouts with Nancy piecing away in front of me.
So, pulled out my 2.5" scrap squares and organized them up a bit.

And pieced another couple of Jack in the Box blocks from the other part of my 2012 RSC.  
After seeing Andee's AMAZING completed Jack-in-the-Box top yesterday, I am newly motivated to have my other 2012 blocks see a finish!  But, I need more in order to make the quilt a desirable size.

And then, sadly, it was time for me to shut everything down in order to make dinner for the family.
Twelve hours total.  And I could STILL go for more.  Go-Go-Energizer bunny today for some reason :)

Happy Monday!

Oh, and BTW...remember I had been watching Missouri Quilt Co's YouTube station?  By the time I shut everything down, 59 tutorials had played.  And many, many, many more ideas of quilts are rambling in my head now.  Good golly!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

My (new?) Granny Squares project [Crochet]

I updated my stacks of Granny Squares in these two color ways, but didn't take an updated picture.  I now have 12 of each of these complete...

But then I grabbed some new (old 'leftover') yarns...

That front pile looks quite bold in the picture, but blends nicely in real-life.  
Hmmm, maybe a cute lil' baby afghan... add some light brown, and connect them with a cream...

Slow Stitch Sunday - some down time

I was up at 5AM with Paul's alarm again.  And again, coffee was brewed, dishes were completed, and a bagel was eaten before heading downstairs by 6AM...

All of Bonnie's CS step 5 are now prepped for the final stitch, and sitting next to the sewing machine, acting as leaders-enders for whatever project I wanted to work on next...

My design wall has LITERALLY been unchanged for over a year!
This was the picture from November, 2012!  Alright....since then, the Hawaii Sunset blocks (lower section) have been completed, and are now awaiting sashing.  The Jack in the Box blocks were removed at one point, but have been resting on a shelf, untouched.
But the strings.... yup.  They are still up there!
I can't remember the last time when I actually worked on my 2011 or 2012 Rainbow Scrap Challenge projects.  But with 2014 looming, and my 2014 RSC sample hanging out in the lower right, it was time to clear the wall!

And then.... designer's block returned :\  The rainbow string blocks are cool, BUT...I never had a plan in mind for them.  I just pieced 'em.  Cuz they were cool.  
Therefore, lesson #1 for my 2014 RSC -- Have. A. Plan.  (which I think I do) :)

In 2012, when I pieced the Jack in the Box blocks in addition to the String blocks, I cut off the bonus triangles and turned them into some scrappy diamond units.  

I thought they'd be perfect to use as a filler block (see the sample block on the left).  BUT, one slight problem --- I never squared up the bonus triangles to 2" before piecing the diamond units.  Their sizes are simply....wonky, and inconsistent with each other.  I tried to make due anyway.
But, it just isn't going to work.  Plus, I didn't like the look of the sample. 
So then... I played some more and came up with the current look.  I know it would help matters if I would piece two more string blocks -- to make the quilt be a little more symmetrical.

Therefore, I'm GLAD it's Sunday!  More specific, I'm glad that it's Kathy's Slow Stitch Sunday.  After the marathon quilting day yesterday, and the silly designer's block affecting me right now... I'm simply in the mood to sit with a crochet hook in my hand!

I haven't worked on any Granny Squares in awhile, so... that's my game plan for the next couple of hours.

Happy Sunday.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

10 hours of sewing - goal not quite met

Yes folks... when Paul's alarm sounded at 5AM, I got out of bed... (I had already been awake since 4:30 anyway).  Some coffee was brewed up, dishes were done from yesterday's meals, and a bagel was eaten.  Once Paul was kissed goodbye at 5:45, I was done and ready for some serious sewing!!! 


Despite have Celtic Solstice calling my name, I started the day by playing with my 2014 Rainbow Scrap Challenge plan...
I woke up thinking about how to make the block unit a bit larger (9" finished)... but I wasn't sold on Bonnie's idea of making a 4-patch of Maverick Stars.  I had some 9-patches resting on the shelf, so I tried 'em out.  Me thinks me finally has the 2014 plan ready to go!  And, did I read that Angela has chosen blue for the first month already?!??!  HA!  Lookie there----already done :)  LOL

Then it was time to get serious sewing time in to Celtic Solstice.

So many ladies have been talking up Clue #2 as "the killer step."  It DID take quite a long time to complete the additional chevrons to catch up to the King size quilt, but I wouldn't necessarily say that it killed me.  However...each of Bonnie's mysteries does seem to have one of those "killer steps."  Remember the 60 string blocks from Roll Roll Cotton boll???!?!?!?!?  LOL.
My fruit punch koolaid kept my hydrated during all of those chevrons!

I didn't pay attention to the clock much today, but I THINK it was around noonish before I was able to say...."It's time for step 5!"  I am 100% caught up with the additional units in steps 1-4 in order to Go King :)

And then.... cut, cut, cut, cut, cut, cut.....
piece, piece, piece, piece, piece.....

piece, piece, piece, piece, piece......

piece, piece, piece, piece, piece......

ummm........ are these little neutral triangles EVER going to run out?!?!?!?!?!
There CERTAINLY is a difference between only piecing the units for the smaller quilt versus the larger quilt!

I finally got all 244 triangles pieced onto one side of the pink/orange HST.  
And then, I ACTUALLY let go of some of my control, and.....

FINGER-PRESSED the units as I added the other triangle side.  
I'm a presser.  IRON-presser.
But, I trusted Bonnie that finger pressing would be sufficient for these units;  afterall, we all know how biased these lil' buggers can get!

I only pieced about half of the units before saying.....I NEED A DIFFERENT TASK!!!  My lower back was actually starting to ache from the sitting at the machine for all these triangle pieces!
No more finger piecing though.  Once both triangle wings were attached, it was time to give them a nice press.  
Note my water bottle.  We have extremely hard water, even with our water-softener doing its job.  I used to be a 100% steam presser; and have ruined a few too many blocks from a sputtery steam iron. :(
Therefore, that last two irons I've purchased, I have NOT added water at all.  I am completely a "dry-iron" presser convert...with a water bottle on the side.  I sometimes add a few drops of an essential oil I have handy, but not always.

With those pressed, and my afternoon yawns starting to take over, I knew my sewing time was nearing an end.  BUT, I wanted to have a couple of completed step 5s done before turning everything off.  I had Bonnie in my sewing room quilt-camming for the afternoon, but when she tuned off, I started playing some videos of my crochet buddy Mikey (Crochet Crowd).  Between Bonnie and him... they are typically my background noise of choice when there isn't a movie tickling my fancy.

 4:00PM -- and 50 completed step 5 units, with the other 196 all prepped in partial stages around my sewing room.

And now...dinner of Sweet-n-Sour Pork made and eaten, a movie playing on the TV, and my feet are up.  My crochet hook will be in my hand shortly ... I feel a Packer scarf is my project of choice this evening.

Happy Saturday everyone!

Friday, December 27, 2013

The best of all my online worlds! [RSC '14]

Angela (Soscrappy) has been hosting an annual "Rainbow Scrap Challenge" for the past three years.  I participated in 2011 and 2012, but took a vacation from the monthly challenge in 2013.

Her post for the new year can be found here: 2014 Scrap Challenge.  And it's great what this time away from work will stress...relaxing days.... and finding my inspiration for quilting again!  Her post motivated me to think about what to attempt this next year.  I searched, and came up empty.  Oh, there are MANY MANY amazing ideas out there with chromatic quilts and rainbowy quilts, but... nothing called to me.

THEN... in comes Bonnie!!!!
She was trying out a new method for posting blogs... at least that's what she THOUGHT her "Pieceful Afternoon" blog post was about.  However... the lightbulb shined brightly when I saw her Wonky Stars block.  I have seen it before... never with much thought.  But this morning, in bed, looking at the phone's screen... it hit me!  

My 2014 Rainbow Scrap Challenge block
My 2014 RSC inspiration was found!  Partly it was also inspired by the loads and loads of white little clippy-triangles I've trimmed off of Bonnie's Celtic Solstice part 2 chevrons.  I'm not a crumb-quilter, but...these little tidbits work perfectly for this project.  And hence, I have elected to use 2" squares.  Result:  a 4.5" adorable finished block!!! many will I complete each month??  Dunno.  Haven't thought that far yet.  
But...Angela---I'm IN!! :D

With a full day behind us of the new gifts, the girls have played with just about everything.
Cassie has started a scarf using some Simply Soft sparkly yarn that she received:  Red and White.

Caitlyn and Candace have enjoyed making some yummy looking Play-Doh goodies...

Thank goodness that these goodies don't have any calories!!!!  That looks yummy enough to eat!

Alrighty!  As badly as I want to stay hunkered down at home and sew the day away with Bonnie's CS part 5... we're heading out the door shortly to enjoy the HEAT WAVE up here in Wisconsin.  Seriously...this is the first day in days! (weeks even??)  that we have temps in the forecast to hit above freezing;  we SHOULD hit 34!  LOL.  Therefore... it's off to the snow-tubing hill!
And'll be back to hunkering down in the house, cuz for the next 5 days, the extended forecast has us hitting HIGHS of only 2 degrees (F), and lows of -15 to -20 (F) --- and that's without windchill.  It's all good though. 

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas 2013 - at home

This is the first year since we've been married that Paul and I decided to stay at HOME for the holiday season/break.  His sister and BIL visited me and the girls on Monday, and it was just right.  It got me out of my PJs for the day, at least :)

Santa brought some great family gifts for us this year!  The day's hit seemed to be the travel Ping Pong set up.  Our table made for an interesting "short-game" strategy, but... it was still fun!

My Hancock purchase the other day CERTAINLY was minimized from what I originally had in my cart.  It arrived in time to be my Christmas present under the tree.

Holiday break has us staying up late watching movies...

... and sleeping on the couch (with glasses on!)...

I love seeing all of the quilts and afghans in use.  At least these hobbies pay off in that fashion :)

The weather around here has been wintery;  it's been snowing a bit just about everyday since we've been on break.  As long as I can stay inside, I'm perfectly fine with all of this snow.
However, this pour soul wasn't faring too well the other morning.  The plow hadn't come through yet; I heard it (which is what woke me up...).  When I peeked out the kitchen window, this was the scene...
After about 25 minutes, and with the use of my neighbor's big tractor (whose farm you see in the background), he was back on his way; hopefully with a bit more luck to his morning drive.

With the winter weather keeping me inside, I researched and practiced a new crochet method: filet crochet.  I REALLY wanted some white or cream crochet thread, but... I wasn't about to head out in the snow, so... I settled with some thread I had here from my "surprise box" that was found a few week's back.  The size ended up being perfect for a couch pillow.  AND, I only made one little mistake.... can you find it?

SO, braving the roads (AND STORES!), Cassie and I headed out yesterday morning to get some groceries, AND a slight detour into Shopko for some crochet thread.
It's SO much fun learning something new!  AND... my family members benefit :)  This will be gifted to my parents DESPITE the mistake.  Can you find this one too?

SOMEDAY, wouldn't this be an amazing accomplishment to add to the list?!?!?!

It's so sad that there simply is NOT enough time to create every project that rambles on through our minds, right?!?!!?  

Christmas is almost over, and our family celebrated with a more "us" Christmas meal.  Baked fish, fried fish, homemade chicken strips, homemade fries, Buffalo wings...  Everything either from our garden, our animal pens, or our fishing hooks :)  Yuppers!  Definitely a meal we enjoy :)

I am expecting Paul's parents sometime tomorrow.  Paul, sadly, has been signed up for overtime at his job, so... it'll just be me and the girls.  And I have NOTHING planned. The day will simply take me where it takes me :)

Merry Christmas and Happy Wednesday :)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Celtic Solstice - Step 4 done (for now)

Christmas break is officially upon us.  And the stress free schedule today was WONDERFUL!!!
I woke at 4:30AM, but wasn't quite ready to roll out of bed, yet.  The next thing I knew....7:19!!!  Wow.  That's the latest I've slept in awhile.  
So, coffee brewed and Bonnie's blog checked.... I headed downstairs by 8:00.
And by the end of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, I was finished with step 4.

HOWEVER, due to a Christmas present that Paul and I bought ourselves, I will be spending time over break going back to each clue and will be GOING BIG.  
Paul and I spent some cash on a much needed new mattress and boxspring for our bed;  delivery is expected January 7.  This mattress/boxspring combo is much thicker than our current bed, so I'm thinking Roll Roll Cottonboll simply won't cut it anymore.

This afternoon, I tackled the catch-up on Clue #1.  Ninety-two orange units increased to 140;  96 neutral units increased to TWO-HUNDRED FORTY!  Wowsers.  I didn't realize "going big" was going to require MORE than twice the amount of the small version!  LOL.

And step #2 CLEARLY shows that this King size version requires more than twice the amount of units as the small version.  Two-hundred green rectangles increased to FOUR HUNDRED EIGHTY-EIGHT.  Yah, uh..... that's where I stopped for the night!  Poopered out after nearly 12 hours of being in front of the machine.  

We have NO travel plans ahead of us;  this will be the first Christmas that we spend it entirely at our OWN house.  Paul's sister and husband will be making the trip up to us for a visit on Monday, and his parents plan to visit on the day after Christmas.  We don't have any plans as of yet;  we will play our schedule by ear.  Paul works the next couple of nights, but has off of his shift on Christmas Eve for four days.  There may be some sledding, there may be some skiing, there may be some ice skating.  **shrug**.  
BUT, tomorrow.....there WILL be more quilting.

Our family has officially graduated the Primary School Christmas program.  So sad that we will no longer hear some of the annual songs of little voices...."Penguin Polka,"  "S-A-N-T-A" (to the tune of B-I-N-G-O)....
"Christmas makes me sing ... La-la-la-la..." 
"Christmas makes me laugh... ha-ha-ha-ha..."
{{confetti from previous song...}}
"Christmas makes me smile, see my pearly whites..." 
"Christmas makes me sing...Yah!"
 Happy Saturday everyone.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Crafty Sunday [Celtic Solstice] & others

Okay..... pinks and oranges together.
Know what??? 
I have COMPLETE faith that this will work out ;)

I haven't tackled any additional units yet to "go big"... 
I'll wait and see... and may just tackle units for the King size pattern over Christmas break coming up.

The day was filled with one craft or another.
While I was downstairs working on Celtic Solstice units, the girls were upstairs at the table.

Painting ornaments...

... and making gingerbread houses.

I made my way upstairs eventually after prepping some more towels for crochet-tops.

And tonight, I'll either continue working on those towels, or continue hooking on this scrappy Ribbons Afghan.  I haven't been crocheting long, but I already have some scraps going, so... my first scrappy afghan is underway :)

Happy Sunday everyone.
ONE MORE WEEK before a little break from the mental exhaustion.  Whew.