Christmas Tree Block Swap

GoodHeartQuiltersBanner2016This picture-filled post shows when a bunch of the local Good Heart Quilters (my little quilting group) got together to trade Christmas Tree blocks (pattern found on *this* post).  Usually we don’t meet in December, but then Leisa had this idea about these Christmas Tree blocks.  Those who were interested in the swap came together in a Flash Mob Quilt Night; we had a great time, although family trips and sickness prevented some from coming.
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We’re nothing if not helpful.  Some of us had our trees already made, so we all pitched in a sewed, ironed and trimmed the others’ blocks so we all went away with our set.xmastreeswap_3 xmastreeswap_4 xmastreeswap_5

We dealt out all the blocks.  I asked everyone to count their blocks (below), for after an evening of letting loose with children-and-husband-and-life stories, lots of laughing, too many delicious cookies, I couldn’t be depended on to get the numbers right.xmastreeswap_6 xmastreeswap_7

Trying it vertical.  Hmmmm.xmastreeswap_8

This is one of mine, made afterwards, with a bit of my husband’s blue-and-white plaid shirt.xmastreeswap_9

Fun fussy-cutting.xmastreeswap_10

Now I either need to make 4 more blocks, or rethink everything and add a ton more.  We could use another Christmas TV-watching quilt, because of:

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The Crown, streaming off of Netflix, fictionalizing Queen Elizabeth as a young woman.

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Poldark, on PBS (we watched the first season via CDs from Netflix).

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And apparently Endeavor, a crowd-pleaser in our house, will return for a fourth season.

Oh, and then there’s that big event called Christmas, which needs some time…Happy Quilting!

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Retreating from the World, Quilt-style

Last weekend, along with a ton of other quilters in various locations, countries and states, my small sewing group (named The Good Heart Quilters) had their second annual retreat.  First off, a little game:

Quiltersand Machines

Can you match the quilter to her machine?  Don’t worry, neither can I.

We had thirteen quilters come at some point in the weekend (two didn’t bring their machines), served two lunches, one dinner, snacks, chocolate, laughter, and lots of chatter.  We also did a Polaroid Block Swap.  In no particular order, here are some shots of the weekend, including our Show and Tell quilts, and a couple of WIP quilts.

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Lia

Of course she can climb on the counters–it’s at her house!  Thanks, Lisa!!

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Citrus quilt

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ShowTell Mirror Ball Dots

Jean’s Mirror Ball Dots quilt.  Now the rest of you, get out those stacks and get busy (like me).

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The interesting thing is that the royal blue is not mirror ball dots fabric; it just makes the quilt pop.

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A prequel quilt to taking Ruth McDowell’s class — Janet just wanted to learn the technique.

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JoDy worked hard on this applique quilt, full of lavender tulips both in the applique and in the fabrics.

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(Back of the above)

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Every year Jean heads to Minnesota where she picks up the annual Minnesota fabric.  I usually get this wrong, and call it by the wrong state.
Minnesota/Michigan?  I hope I got it right this time.

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I’m including this picture to show there was someone other than me wearing their “ambulatory boot.”  Mine is light blue.

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Tauni’s quilt is all made of minky–so soft!

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Lisa’s daughter, Leilani, made this for a Young Women project for church, as this is fabric printed with different values: Faith, Knowledge, Integrity and so forth.

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Simone had to pose so she could show her sister she really has finished a quilt top.

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WIP

And Jean was the worker bee, finishing up another project.  I quilted Citrus, Rhonda’s hot pads, ate chocolate, listened, talked, caught up with others, got tired and went home Saturday afternoon where I crashed on the bed and didn’t wake up even when the phone rang (it was my mother, and I called her back).  So, if exhaustion is a barometer–it was a great success!

Citrus

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Citrus, 31-1/2″ square, finished July 2013

This is a simple Schnibbles quilt, with rail fence and sawtooth star blocks, in bright citrusy colors.

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The back, with my sister’s gift of a tea towel as part of the backing.

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As I was at our annual summer retreat, I chose a simple leafy pattern–one I could quilt while we talked about children, grandchildren, hymn-singing at church, marathons, and could-you-please-bring-me-a-piece-of-chocolate sort of conversations.

Citrus quilt Label

I was tired today, after nearly two days at our retreat, so no big fancy quilt labels for this one.  Just handwritten in Micron pen, the title, my name, the place, date and dimensions. Truthfully, this is 31 and three-quarters-inch wide, but just couldn’t face all that, so I’m calling it 31-1/2″ inches square.

Citrus and Village Faire quilts

Here are the last two Schnibbles I’ve made.  I’m thinking that whatever the next pattern is, it needs to be pink.  Or aqua.  Anything but yellow, orange and green.

Sewing on Binding_Citrus quilt

The house was quiet this morning as I sewed on the binding. My husband had not yet returned from his scientific meeting. The weather was cool so I had the windows open, listening to the faraway sounds of traffic, the nearby sounds of insects, birds, a dog barking his good morning.  I could have machine-stitched this binding down, the chunk-chunk of the needle going through so many layers of fabric, but instead, I picked up a needle and thread.

I thought about all the conversations I’d had in the past forty-eight hours at our annual summer retreat.  The topics of conversation varied from books to quilt tops to sewing pillowcases to “how do you make bias binding?” to no conversation at all as we concentrated on our tasks, letting others carry the call and response around us.  There is something so rich and rewarding about being in the thick of this, of feeling surrounded and accepted by all these creative, productive and interesting people.  We have all brought our fabric, thread, and know how to borrow each other’s books for patterns, search Pinterest or the web, or locate what we want in a magazine or on a blog.  We all seem to find the time to begin the quilt or table runner or creamy white blouse or Polaroid blocks and bring them to the communal sewing circle, so we can keep our hands busy while we solve what really is on our mind.  The machines hum a nice alto line while our chorus of soprano voices slip in those concerns and cares that worry us at night, all of us telling a story of being unable to sleep because a friend moving away, or how to find the money to go to another state to meet an adult child’s sweetheart, or how to recover from a foot injury, or recover from a broken heart of a life called away too soon.

The stories are as varied as we are, from new mothers (am I doing this right?) to mothers of teenagers (can I send them to the moon?) to mothers of grown children (everything will work out).  We are young, running marathons.  We are older, with a litany of physical complaints.  We are professionals, earning retirement and benefits, and we are under-employed, wondering how to find medical insurance.  We are so different.

We are the same, with thread and scissors and stars and triangles and squares of cloth.  After days of sewing together, we are tired and head back to our houses with our half-finished projects, our conversations, our new friends, our memories, all packed away until the next time.

All of this is on my mind, as I think about how this is being repeated at every retreat, every sewing circle, all of us being bound together like this quilt I am working on, a stitch at a time.

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This quilt is my first finish on my list of things to do in the Third Quarter of 2013’s Finish-A-Long (FAL).

FinishALong Button

It is #118 on my 200 Quilts List.

Latest Schnibbles is Taking Shape

Schnibbles Lincoln

This is the Schnibbles pattern chosen for this month’s Parade of Schnibbles, hosted by Sherri and Sinta, a design called Lincoln. While I love the red, cream and blue and it is appropriate for July, I had a cute packet of fabrics brought to me by a friend while I was convalescing and it just pushed its way to the front and demanded to be used.  So I did, sewing and ironing with my foot up (it’s quite a feet feat).

Crowded Pin Wall Quilt

Think this real estate is getting crowded?  I didn’t want to take down the quilt on the left, so just folded it over while I put my quilt up on the wall.  In looking at it, I knew the name: Citrus.  What else to call a quilt with lime, lemon and bold orange in it?

Citrus Top

Sewn top.  I cropped it so you wouldn’t have to see my messy pin wall.  But I’ve put a tea towel on the back of every Schnibbles so far, and what to put on this one?  I thought about going by the Citrus Historical Park, where I thought they may have something. Then I looked on the towel rack in my kitchen (the oven door) and there it was–a citrus-themed tea towel!

Back of Citrus quilt with dishtowel

My sister brought it to me because my kitchen is yellow, and maybe because we carried a sack of oranges up to her in the snowy mountain west last February, a ray of sunshine from our home town’s harvest.  But I hope she won’t mind that I put it into service here. I whipped it off the rack, washed up up and bordered it with fabrics from the front.

Batting Seaming

One beauty of making small quilts is that I get to piece my scraps of batting hanging out in my closet and use them in the quilt.  I lay the scraps side-by-side on my  cutting mat, overlapping the sides I want to seam.  Then I take my rotary cutter and make a wavy cut in them–a long, slow wavy cut.  I butt those seams side by side, and using a stitched-zig-zag in a 9.0 width, I zig-zag the seams closed.  It makes a nearly invisible join with no ridges.

Citrus Pinned UP

Citrus is all pinned up.  I’m actually getting some projects ready for our little quilt group (The Good Heart Quilters) is getting together for a retreat this weekend.  I have learned that it’s too busy to do intensive thinking, so it’s better to go prepared with projects I can sew while chatting away.

This coming January, our quilt group will have been going strong for about 15 years.  We generally meet about 7 or 8 times a year, always on the first Friday of every month just after 7 p.m.  When we were all younger, we stayed until 2 and 3 in the morning, but now we’re all packed up and gone by 10:30 p.m.  Here’s some photos from June’s get together:

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We met at Leisa’s house this time; we rotate where’s we’ll meet.

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What I tried to work on–this is when I remembered it’s best not to have too brain-draining of a project to stitch/cut!

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Bridget is a new quilter, but look what she turned out!

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Laurel finished the quilt she started last fall–a combination of piecing and appliqué.

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JoDy showed us her cool round tablecloth, made with a wedge ruler. . .

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. . .then flipped it over and showed us the back!

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She also finished a reversible table runner.

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Caitlyn (L) recently ran a half-marathon with Lisa (R) who is a marathoner.  Lisa showed off their medal. ( That’s a pair of scissors on a magnetized disk on Lisa’s shoulder, not a fancy broach or something!)  Our retreat will be at Lisa’s house–she did one last year and we had such fun, we’re doing it again.

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Of course, we have to have food!

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Deneese is coming along on her Chevron quilt.

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Lisa showed off a newly completed UFO–it was one of the early quilt block exchanges we did, in patriotic colors.

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Lisa G. finished her quilt top–I love that spoon/fork fabric.

Looking forward to this weekend’s retreat!

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Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

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Block of the Month: Starts and Re-starts

AWAT2 Strip Sets

I’ve been working on Amish With a Twist–part II, having sewn up some strip sets before I went under the knife for foot surgery, then cut them apart:

AWAT2 Strip Sets Cut

While this is how the pattern recommended we proceed, but when sewing them together I found lots of repeated colors.  Think carefully about where you sew your lights and mediums, trying not to have the same order of colors from bottom to top, otherwise you’ll find yourself with the problem I have below:

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So yes, today I’ll be unpicking and re-stitching in order to break up the two yellows.  What you see up on my pinwall is where I got a bit smarter and laid out the strips and the stars and the sets, and could mix and match before sewing them up in a rush.

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Actually, when you open that first package, I’d recommend making yourself one of these:

AWAT2 Swatch Card

A swatch card.  I wrote the name of the color on each clip of selvage, then also coded them as to whether the pattern designer considered it a “medium” or a “light,” as shown by the pink or yellow lines next to the swatch.  While it was true that I was cutting these out while hanging out with my three younger grandchildren, and I was trying to follow the plots of their multiple episodes of Witches of Waverly Place streaming down on Netflix as their mother took a nap, I was also pulling out my hair over which color was which.  The pattern does include a color chart, but as we all know, print colors can vary from actual colors.  So, do your best to sort out which is what color and go forward.

I’m past the initial confusion and aside from the bit of re-stitching I’m going to be doing in a minute, I’m enjoying this process.  I’ve never done a Block of the Month (BOM) before, and it’s kind of fun to get a package and a pattern on your doorstep.  It is fun to pick and choose colors in the fabric shop, I admit, as well as patterns and ideas, but this summer, given all the sturm und drang (aka “storm and stress”) of the surgery, family trips, and other sundry complications in my world, it will be nice to have part of the creative process simplified.  This is my inspiration (the finished quilt top) and I look at it often:

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Hopefully, if I stay on track and don’t get too far behind (yes, I’m three blocks behind already!) I’ll have a gorgeous quilt like this one.

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Zucchini Cranberry Walnut Bread

On a side note: for those of you with tons of zucchini in your gardens, I finally got a handle on an interesting zucchini bread recipe, with dried cranberries and walnuts.  Recipe *here.*

Holiday Quilt Night for the Good Heart Quilters

I’m sure I’ve told you, but our little quilt group–named The Good Heart Quilters–began when Lisa, majorly pregnant with her second daughter, enlisted my help (as well as few others) to get us all together to sew.  Our first quilt night was December of that year, and just about every month after that we loaded up our sewing machines, rulers, mats and rotary cutters on the first Friday and sewed until the caffeine from our stash of Coke and root beer wore off and we headed home, usually in the wee hours of the morning.

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Fast foward sixteen years.  Lisa is in the middle in the brown vest and still looks as young as she did that night (and by the way, she had her baby the next day).  We have some new Good Heart Quilters, but it’s fun to have this gang hang together as long as we have.  In the middle next to Lisa is Cindy of Live a Colorful Life, who joined us for the party (and stayed with me for the weekend). And now, everyone was cleared out by 10:30 p.m.

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Leisa and I hosted this gig, and she arrived early to give my tired Christmas wreath a makeover.  Thanks, Leisa, it looks terrific (I didn’t get wreath-making DNA).

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We set up two long tables, plus had the one in the kitchen, ready to go.  I hate juggling too many utensils, so Cindy and I set them out.  Cindy had arrived the day before, and that morning we had done a little shop-hop, but were back in time to set up the party.  I’d cooked up a slew of my mother’s chili on Thursday (because chili always tastes better the next day), Leisa brought rolls and sodas, and everyone brought the toppings.

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Leisa found these sweet pincushions for everyone, and together we sewed a bunch of zippered pouches to give out as gifts (below).

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Bethany brought two kinds of cupcakes: chocolate and white.

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And she brought one of her first sewing projects to show us: a cute Christmasy pillowcase.

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The chili and all the fixins.  Karen brought us some vegan chili, as we have a couple of women who are watching what they eat.  I like that our group changes and flexes to our needs.

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Quilters in the kitchen. . .

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. . . and the dining room.

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After dinner and visiting, we got to work.  Lisa brought a yo-yo project and everyone helped.

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Bridget curled up in a red chair to sew on her red/white quilt.

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Simone’s working on her apple core quilt.  Someone commented that she seemd to have dressed to match what she was working on, but she denied any overt connection.

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Kelly, who came just for a little holiday cheer and destressing, quickly joined us in visiting.

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Tauni has finished two quilts–the one above, and the one below.

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Tauni and Sara.

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JoDy is getting the binding on a zoo-themed quilt.

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Jean helped Lisa with the yo-yo project and in the background, Carol listens intently.

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Cindy and Laurel talk shop: Farmer’s Wife blocks.  Seeing those blocks all together was really stunning.  It’s hard to appreciate them only on the blog.  I got a closer look the next day, when Cindy and I decided we’d had enough running around and hunkered down to sew.

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This is the string of them, coming off the machine.  She was bordering them, but I kept finding ones that I loved.

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Like this one.  Almost thou dost persuade me to make my own set, Cindy.  Almost. But I think I’ll just admire yours.

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I got busy on the shams to go with the Christmas Star Quilt that I’d made a couple of years ago.  I did want to get these done last year, but we went to Ohio for Christmas, and then there was that cancer surgery thing I had to go through (I’m fine) but it sure disrupts a life.  So, better late than never. I’m guest-hosting at Lee’s Freshly Pieced Blog on Wednesday, so check back then for the finished reveal on the shams.

Sunday morning, the weekend with Cindy came to an end, when I drove her down to the train station to catch her ride home.  We were early, so sat and talked quilting stuff: blogs, creativity, challenges, feelings of inadequacy, and the impact of online distraction.  From our conversation, I have enough ideas for many more posts.  I appreciate my quilting friends–both those that I have had for many months and years–as well as those I meet online.

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P.S.  Those of you who read my blog through your readers, click through to see the new Christmas banner at the top of my blog.  Some of these photos were taken when we lived in Virginia and are trees found around Washington DC during the holidays.