Thursday, December 31, 2020

Bring on the New Year!

   Year 2020...... not the most productive in my life.  Major efforts were made into a collage.  

   In the center is the wonky Court House steps quilt.  About half of these blocks were made prior to this year, and being in lockdown was a good reason to assemble them.

   Upper left,  just strings, and more string blocks!  This turned in to my Chaos Quilt, or what I thought would be the pandemic quilt.  I figured by the end of this one the pandemic would be history.  And the joke was on me.....so Chaos it became.

   Lower left is the spool block quilt.  Lots of spool blocks were made during the Spring and Summer months for this one.  It is as yet unquilted.

 Top right, by late summer I was in dire need of some light in my world.  Not just sunlight, but illuminating light of hope.  So I naturally turned to create a watercolor project.  It too is unfinished and waits to be quilted.

  Lower right, is mine, but created by Sir Old Man.  He fulfilled my request for a bright spot to hang on the garden shed.  The cardinal has long been my symbol of Hope.  And now it is always in view.  The wooden  barn quilt block is 16'' square.  


   As the year ends I am working on assembling about 100 Easy Breezy blocks.  These have been my leader and ender project for the year.  And rather than begin something new, I plan on getting at least one top quilted.  If I need to just stitch I can always make a few string blocks.....it is a good never ending project for me.  
   
  What did I learn in 2020?  
   It was brought home to me to listen to my body.  Diagnosed with Erosive Osteoarthritis put a halt to machine quilting this year.  I found it painful, so I decided to not do any quilting for 6 months at least.  I believe it has helped the severe inflammation in the wrists.  I picked up crochet again to try to keep my fingers moving and nimble.  That too has seemed to help.  Overall, things in moderation are possible, so I think one quilt top quilted is doable:)  Big smile.

  Although I am home most of the time anyway, I need to get out.  I need to  see people.  Even a ride to the drugstore, or the open produce market is a treat.  My body may be breaking down, but my heart still wants relationship with others.  

  Small joys are all around us.  You must look for them and take time to enjoy them.  Fifteen minutes in the sun or just sitting on the porch to watch the blue birds.
The glorious colors of the sunset behind the trees ends the day well.  The sweet small of apples in the fall, and the earthy scent of burning leaves remind me of the season's change.  Full moons, and meteor showers, and wonders in the sky were seen and marveled at this year.   

  And Sir Old Man has one more 
barn quilt to finish  this year.

  A Double Star pattern caught his eye earlier this fall and He decided to make one  to hang on the front of the house.  For this one, he wanted a more rustic appearance.  The wood was destressed a bit, and routed to create the look of barn wood. It is well sealed and will be under the eaves for some protection.  

And tomorrow we do it all agin....so , come on 2021, give us the best!

Happy stitching.  

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Other endeavors

   Wednesday was a cooking day.   Sir Old Man served as assistant chef.  He wanted to act like the "behind the scenes help"  that are not seen on TV cooking shows!  He is an excellent stirred, grater, mixer and cleaner-upper.  None of this would be possible without him.  

  I wanted to make chutney like we had from Honey Baked Ham....the cherry-cranberry chutney is wonderful mixed with the Unexpected cheddar cheese from Trader Joe's on crackers.  It is good with ham and figured it would be good with pork too.  So he went shopping for the cherries and  both sweet and tart!  He usually does go overboard when I make a special request.  

  I found a simple recipe on line, and tips to pit the cherries using a chopstick.  Don't do the chopstick one, it did not work for us.  Instead we resorted to milkshake straws!  They poked out those pits nicely.....and of course, I was wearing a bit of juice when we finished.

  We ended up with 3 of the small half pint jars--I think--and half of of the larger.  Anyway, it turned out good, a little thinner than I wanted, but very good.  Into the refrigerator it went.

  And on the remainder of the cherries.   Easiest thing to do was refrigerator cherry jam.  Since they were pitted I just halved some of them and chopped up the rest.  


 Just a little over 3 jars.....the little leftover was gone this morning on biscuits.  A little bit tart but good.

  Since cherries are good for inflammation and auto-immune issues, I hope to enjoy these.  I get the cherry juice when we find it, but this past year there has been not to be seen.

  One more thing to put together....soup for dinner.  Chicken spinach with tortellini.   The spinach kick I am on is in an effort to raise my iron levels.  Lab test came back and looks like another deficiency has developed.  I fear it is really an absorption issue rather than diet.  I will see what the doctor says tomorrow.

  


  One more thing....I pulled out crochet hooks, ordered a couple of cakes of cotton yarn and started crocheting this past week.  My hands and fingers are stiff and hurt, but keeping them working is  better  than losing all use of them.   I pulled out the knitting bag stand that my girlfriend, Doreen, bought me years ago.  I got everything in it to begin. 

   Then I looked at that cake of yarn.....no way I wanted to rewind it.  I found a long enough dowel to slip thru the center of it.  The dowel ends rest on the side of the bag.  I could pull yarn off and begin....but the dowel kept slipping off and making a mess.


  Enter the light bulb moment here!   I hunted up 2 medium bulldog clips.  One on each side of the bag.  The dowel can just fit thru the eye part of the clip.  I was able to happily begin crocheting and focus on the stitching rather than the dowel and yarn.

   Crocheting for short spells is ok, and the pain is not bad.  The good thing is the fingers are less stiff.  So hoping I can get better tension on the stitches now.  I am making a masterpiece but trying to keep moving.  

Happy stitching!

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Shed decor!

 

 

   Yep, Sir Old Man came thru in time, actually ahead of time for the birthday gift.   Mr. Red Cardinal was painted and sealed from the weather for his permanent location.  

  I tried not to nag or pester him to get it installed.  I was really patient, or at least I pretended to be.  




  The barn sign was added to the newly painted garden shed.  The perfect finishing touch to add a bit of a bright spot to the shed.  I love glancing thru the window of the sun room or the sewing room and seeing the bright red.  Makes me smile.




   No current finish to share, but these are a few of the wall hangings I shared with my Bible study group today.  And spent time telling the stories that went with them.  


  





   
    I also shared this one...Higher Hope. 
I love the jewel tones and how rich the colors become like stained glass in a cathedral.   And it is time to rehang it in the sunroom, as I love the full colors in it during the winter months.  

  
  I put aside the collage piece as I was frustrated with it.  Maybe in a month or two I will try again.  I have the continuing leader and ender blocks to sew and the latest watercolor is pressed.  Enough for now.  Happy stitching.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Seasons changing

 

  The last of the autumn leaves and the first Christmas wreath to go up on the day after Thanksgiving.  That's a good mix.

  The shed turned out very nice after Sir Old Man finished up the painting and trim repair.  I have a request in for a barn quilt sign to hang on the left hand side of the window.  With a birthday and Christmas coming up fast, I hope he can get it made for me. :)

Our weather for the last month has been full of wet and rainy days, and multiple low pressure systems, so my time in the sewing room has been short. 


 

  Instead of cutting or piecing, I used up some squares already cut for a new watercolor design.  A transitional design maybe that is in direct opposite values. 

   I normally could pull this project together in a few days.....ha!  Over the course of a month, I have it to the just sewn and pressed stage.   Such is life now....slower, much slower.      I am hoping to get this and the spool top prepared for quilting soon....very soon.   

  The Easy Breezy blocks are languishing in a project box.  So I may need to work a bit on them as well as the hourglass blocks.   


                                                  

I attempted a collage project after an on line class.  It looks good here.....but those tiny pieces are just fused and there is probably no way to really secure them by machine.   Finishing this one as a fused project, not sewn, just for a test is probably the path I will take.  If I have a wall hanging, I want to be able to wash it at some point.  But I picked up some tips and pointers, so I count it as good.  Collage is fun, but probably too tiny and fussy for me to do much with it.  



  And that has pretty much been my month!  Facing December which starts the round of labs and doctors visits.....fun.  Until later, happy stitching.


Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Recycle those signs again and update.

I am re-recycling part of an old post.  Right now is the time to replenish your stash of yard signs.  Clean up the landscape and put those signs to good use.

 


Mini-bolts!

  About 4 years ago, I began using the mini-bolts for storage.  When I first  began this, I was using a thin plastic insert.  Later I switched  to using  foam core board.  The foam core  can be purchased at the Dollar Store in the 2 foot by 3 foot size usually.  I cut the size-- that works best for me-- 11" to 12" high by 8" wide.    It's easy to cut with a craft knife.  I often end up with smaller sections of the boards and they work great for shorter cuts--- those under a yard. 




Today, I am even more frugal.....I use old  yard campaign signs or yard signs of any kind that I find....like house for sale, or other advertising.  They get knocked down or the wires rust out.  I collect them, wash them up, and cut  to the size I like.    I'm saving the land fill (if they would ever make it there) and keeping my dollars for fabric and thread.  


 Fabric is folded just like it comes off the bolt.  Then one more fold---bringing the folded side over to match the selvedge edge.  Roll it up and pin the end.  
     The mini-bolts make it easy to see what I have to work with.  I am  known to be pretty messy and scattered, so this really helps me neater.   And what fun to shop your own fabric store in your stash closet.














And one more idea.....portable design boards.  



  I use old yard signs.  This one is the plastic type 
of corrugated sign.  I cut mine to 12'' by 16'', 
along with a layer of batting and muslin about 
 1 1/2'' larger on all sides.    Grab the glue stick......







I use the glue stick for a temporary hold.  Run the glue stick along the edge of the board and fold the fabric over.  Press down with finger tips.








Remember the colorful duct tape?  
I found a good use for it here. 
 Pull off a piece long enough for the side.
  Lay the covered board face down onto the tape.  Put the tape around the edge and press down 
onto the back covering the edge of 
the fabric.   I trimmed the ends 
of the tape so that they were flush with the ends.







 
 Done!  A small work surface that
 easily moves from sewing table 
to ironing board....safely.


  What a time around here......we endured a hurricane, Halloween, and a blue moon,
and a time change.  Sir Old Man had a skin cancer removed from his nose and is 
healing.  One more to go and then we see if he needs the plastic surgery.  

  

                                                      
 I survived the stress level by sewing
 units and rows together......to make a top 
with borders out of the spool blocks!

  This is about 1/4 view of the top.
I had 3 extra spool blocks and hated to throw them into 
the orphan box of blocks.  Instead I used them to
extend the pattern to the outer border by inserting them
when I joined strips.  I also used up all the blue  fabric for 
that border.  
 

  












   

I continued making the hourglass blocks. 
 These are ready to be trimmed up. 



And I sorted, and sorted, and sorted 2'' squares
that I have been throwing into a box!
I have a new assortment of floral 2'' squares
to work with from my cutting block pieces.  
I found some inspiration and think it is time to return
to working with them for a while.  So if I don't
surface for a bit, that is where I will be.  
Happy stitching.  

    

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Little progress on the spool blocks

  

  I finally decided I had enough spool blocks.  I am beginning to join the rows.  I did the arrange and re-arrange thing on the design wall, got tired of it, and just began to sew.  When it is so scrappy, you can spend a decade moving things around to make it perfect.  Not happening here..... I just need to see some progress here.



 

    And the leader and ender project continues.   For every 2 blocks I made of the spools, I put together one of the Easy/Breezy blocks.  I have a stack of them already.   So they will continue to be my L/E while I am putting together the hourglass blocks.  




    A few of the hourglass blocks from this week.  Again I am working very scrappy because I am using whatever I find  in my bin.  I will plan my placement a little bit with this in time to get some nice dark pinwheels to appear in the block on point.   
  FYI....I am beginning with 5'' squares sewn on diagonal.  The hourglass block shown here are 4'' unfinished.  


    We took a day trip to NC for apples and stopped for lunch.  Actually, it was the first time to eat out in 7 months!  What a treat!  The fall colors were appearing.    This year of 2020 has altered my perspective of so much.  It was nice to be somewhere other than here for a few hours.   
   
  Days have warmed back up for the next week, night are cool.  I keep checking on the large hickory tree out front.  It has the most glorious golden yellow when our leaves hit the peak.  Otherwise, life is much the same.  
Happy stitching.                                                         

Friday, October 9, 2020

And I found another

   Did you read the post at Cluck Cluck Sew?  Click here for the post and her great tutorial and pattern for an Hourglass project.     I loved the idea to make a set of hour glass blocks each day.  Keep it easy, make it fun.  It reminded me of the Quilty 365 Circles project from a few years ago, which I really enjoyed making.  So I thought I could add it to the list of on-going projects.  

  And then I discovered these large HST units!  A large stack already begun for a similar pattern.   They will be easy enough to turn into hourglass blocks.  

   All of the units, pattern sheets, and a stack of paired squares ready to sew went into another bin.   It seems you can never have enough of those bins.   I need to decide or figure out how I want to proceed, which pattern to go on with.  The choice is between   the Scrappy Pinwheel idea or the hourglass a day idea.  



   I will figure out which by the time the spool blocks are finished up.  

To up-date the vision eye problem .  I tried to reply to all who commented, but in case I missed you.  The doctor did several scans, and such on both eyes.  What I thought was the "good eye" now is showing damage to the retina from the lack of B-12 from 4 years ago.  The optic nerve appears stable with no damage, but a small cataract is growing.  So that leaves me in a wait and see mode.  I return in 4 months.    In the meantime, I am adjusting and finding ways to compensate for the blurry and often triple vision aspect of it all.  

  It takes intense concentration to do most things, like read a recipe.  For dinner last night I made a new recipe and glanced at the time and temp.  I saw "200 minutes at 3500 degrees".......a tilt of the head and a second look corrected that.  So it is what it is.....please bear with me when I rant.  Otherwise, life is good.  Happy stitching.    

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