Monday, December 26, 2016

En Provence Part 5 and the Holiday

Oh I was feeling so smug. It was Christmas Eve afternoon. The presents were wrapped, food cooked, table set and I had hours with nothing to do. Seemed like a perfect time to start on Clue 5.  I even had Bonnie's new tool. I was ready to go. I cut the first two 3 1/2 inch strips with no trouble. Two cuts into the third and I did it. Yep, ran that rotary cutter right over the tip of my finger. Blood everywhere, thank goodness I got pressure on it and didn't get blood on my fabric. (we know our priorities, right?).

My platelets are low so it took some time for the bleeding to stop. Then when I pulled the "non-stick" pad off to change it, it stuck and started to bleed all over again. What excitement! Needless to say no more cutting or sewing for that day, or the next. Today is Monday and I am able to cut the remaining half square triangles without incident. They are sewn and pressed. I still need to trim my dog ears.

Half square triangles
For this step I purposely chose to go controlled scrappy. I only used four combinations, picking up some neutrals I only used in step 1. I am getting more excited with each step. Did I mention I love purple?

Click this link to see what progress everyone else is making:

After my incident with the rotary cutter I had an uneventful Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Our traditions may be a little different than others. No turkey or ham. Christmas day I prepared stuffed pasta shells (half with meat and half with cheese) covered with sauce.  Of course garlic olives, Asiago cheese, salad with olive oil and wine vinegar and Pizzelle for desert. Perfect o. Yes I did Americanize it with a Cherry Cheesecake.

I did not do anything on Alliertare this past week. Perhaps later on this week as I wait for the next clue. Can't wait to see what is next. Happy piecing everyone.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

EnProvence Part 4 and more

It's been a busy week, so I'm glad that the clue for Part 4 is easy. I am actually starting to enjoy these tri-rec rulers. I think I've got it, althought I still am not doing it assembly line like Bonnie does. I'm doing one unit at a time.  I'm not in a hurry and like to see each unit to completion before going on to the next. I love how the units are matching where the corners come together. And I am glad I went fairly scrappy for this one. I need to find a way to use this block in another quilt. I am thinking just add some gold and green and it would have a New Orleans flair.

Pretty Purples

I was able to finish all the units on the first day. This is a sample.

Sample of units.

Click on this link to see everyones progress: . Everyone is doing such amazing work.

In past posts I shared I am also working on Alliertare. I only finished five blocks last week. Another six are partially together. I had hoped to finish them today. Unfortunately my husband put some sealer on one of his woodworking projects. The entire back of the basement smells awful. No sewing today.

I decided to go ahead and kit up some of the secondary blocks for Alliertare. Bonnie calls this the Echoes of Pisa Block.

I need to cut the two inch squares for the corners of the red rectangles. I am loving the colors of this quilt. I've thought about making another in Christmas fabric once this and En Provence is completed.

The unit on the bottom right is what I am kitting up now. I am skipping the half square triangles unit on the left for  now. I probably won't get to them until after the first of the year.  I am guessing with this Friday's clue and Christmas there may not be time for much extra sewing.

The best news for last. The last bone marrow I had done showed no Myeloma. I am officially in remission. The last series of chemo has taken it's toll and it has only been since Monday that my counts are out of the critcal numbers and I am able to get out and socialize "with caution". This means Christmas plans with family are on. It will just be a small gathering,  less than a dozen. It will be so nice to have everyone together.

I still need a stem cell transplant, so things stay in remission. The counts are still not high enough to collect stem cells. The doctor feels optimistic after the first we will get there.   For now I am enjoying my blessings. Merry Christmas everyone. Can't wait to see what Bonnie has cooked up for us this coming Friday.                    

Monday, December 12, 2016

En Provence- Part 3 and the joy continues

Yahoo, another step is done. A repeat of step one, only in purple.  This means more four patches to piece, spin and press. Following Bonnie's instructions resulted in another successful step. I have very few pieces that didn't come out right. Here is a sample of my purple four patches.
Sample of four patches

 I pulled even more purples from my stash. I discovered I had lots more dark purples than lavenders, but still managed to find enough diversity to make things work. Here are some of the fabrics I am using to make the last of the four patches.

Last of fabrics for four patches.

 I am so happy I took a class here in Cincinnati from Bonnie this spring. One of the quilts I made was Cathedral Stars, which used the tri-rec ruler and had four patches. She taught us how to spin our seams during the workshop. Once you get the skill down, it is amazing how easy it is, how much flatter your quilt is, and how nice the seam nest. 

Yahoo-spun seams
As I tried to spin seams and press my blocks I discovered that if I am having trouble it has to do with my sewing.  If my seams are not nested they won't spin. Even a miss sew as small as below prevented spinning. Luckily I had less than a half dozen like this. It's amazing how much better things work when I follow Bonnie's instructions!
slightly off block

Check out what everyone is doing on Bonnie's Monday link-up. Here is the link.Enjoy!
It's hard to say what the remaining parts of En Provence will bring. I have a feeling the easier parts are behind us. I'm just a little nervous about how involved the remaining steps might be. 
Having finished my step 3  I am moving on to the joy of Alliertre. I have 15 star blocks completed, and 15 to go.
12 of my finished star blocks.
The rest are made into kits, which I try to do two at a time. If I can continue this progress I may have this step done by Christmas, and maybe even by next week. Who knows? It all depends on my energy, which is a day to day thing.
Star kits
I am so grateful for these mysteries and the ability to sew. My white counts and platelets are still very low so my social life is very restricted (can't go anywhere). The ability to sew is a life saver. It keeps me active and involved in something productive. If I didn't have this I'd be pulling out my hair....wait, I have no hair....never

I am dividing my time between sewing, and getting ready for Christmas. The great room and the dining room are decorated. This year we put a quilt around the base of the great room tree. It was the cat's idea. Now his favorite pass time is to nestle up in the quilt and sleep under the tree.
A great place to cozy up.

Several years ago, when my grandchildren were little we started the tradition of decorating a smaller tree with Santa and snowmen ornaments. We also had ornaments with family members names on them, and since our grandchildren have names that are hard to find (Gian and Jana) we started putting their pictures in ornaments on the tree. Every few years we add another picture. As you can imagine our collection of pictures has grown. This makes this tree especially fun and special to decorate. When they come to visit it is fun to search for the pictures each year.
Dining room ready for Santa
Thanks for checking in, hope things are going well for everyone. Happy piecing!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Lemons, Lemonade and En Provence-Step 2-

It's been a week of good and not so good, lemons and lemonade. First the doctor says my immune system, blood, platelets are too low to attempt a stem cell collection. If things work out and my numbers recover they may try to collect them around Christmas. The good news is I will be home for the holidays, with family and able to complete the current mystery. At the very least I will be able to get all the steps/lessons printed so I can continue to work on it until I can complete it. So much better than last year when I spent nearly three weeks in the hospital, including Christmas and New Years. No Mystery Quilt for 2015.

Fortunately to date the En Provence steps have been fairly easy to complete. As of this writing I only have 10 units to do on step II. There should be no problems getting them done, and I will have plenty of time during the week to work on Allietare.

I have never been a fan of the Tri-Rec ruler. That's because it's been a challenge to get it right. I've made progress with this tool since I first used it on Celtic Solstice.  This is the fourth project using it. I still have not achieved perfection. Who gets it right 100%? Not me.

What I do love is the magenta constant used in this unit.  I think adds a spark to this quilt and I am very curious to see how this unit will be used in the quilt. My magenta?  My selection is not exactly magenta, but it does work well with the fabrics in my stash. It's a Moda Grunge.  I have to admit that I absolutely love Moda Grunge.   You can't tell from the picture below, but some of the darker areas are actually purple. It should play well with the  purples in the quilt.

Moda grunge -my constant
I used some different neutrals in Step II, and left some of those from Step I out. I decided I wanted fabrics with a nature feel to them, so made the switch as shown below.

Step II
Once I finish this step I plan to spend the rest of the week working on Allietare.  I have made  kits for the Allietare stars.  These are the fabric selections.

So far I have only completed two blocks. I am hoping to do a block per day. Or at least one every other day. This first block is fairly simple. I think I need 30. They should go together without too much trouble.   However the next block is more involved and may take more time. For now it is keeping me busy between steps. If the En Provence steps become more difficult Allietare will take the back seat. After all the fabric sat in a bin for a year, another month or so won't matter. These are the two I have complete. I'm really loving the one with the floral center.

Did you every see something you didn't NEED, but just really HAD to have? That happened to me last week. I've been collecting Department 56 New England Village houses for decades. I have about a dozen, and most were purchased for sentimental reasons. For example, my maiden name is Bowman. They happened to have a Bowman's Fiddle Shop, and my granddad played a fiddle. My mom's name is Dorothy, so I purchased Dorothy's Skate House. My husband loves to work with wood, so I have Otter Creek Sawmill. He likes to fish, so we have the fish cannery. You get the idea.   This year part of the collection is on our living room mantel. This isn't a very good picture, but it gives you an idea. These are the city houses. I have another set up, country/seaside, on my mantel in our family room.

So when I was browsing Amazon and came across this quilt shop I HAD to purchase it. Isn't it adorable? Don't you just love those quilts hanging over the railings? It's installed in it's place (3rd from the right side on the mantel).

 Can't wait to see everyone's progress on Bonnie's link-up tonight. Happy piecing everyone.

Department 56 4050955 New England Village, Calico Quilts
Calico Quilt Shop

Sunday, November 27, 2016

En Provence- Part 1 Bonnie Hunter Mystery

Well we are off to a great start on the new Bonnie Hunter - Quiltville Mystery, En Provence. Here is the link. You will find all the information you need to join the journey. Don't be intimidated, join in on the fun.

 Bonnie promised a beginning without the need for the specialty rulers. I had a suspicion that this step might be a four patch. I was right, which does not happen very often. Part one requires 221 four patches.  I had a neutral that is  pearl/lavender that I used in about half of my blocks. Here are some samples.
Samples of completed blocks
I realize that my four patches are fairly close in tone compared to some. I am going with what I have, but did eliminate some creams I initially pulled from my stash, as they where too close to my yellows. I think when sewn together there will be enough variety to add interest and depth, but nothing that will shout out "here I am". I still have 50 four patches to do and these are the fabrics I plan to use.

2 inch strips of neutrals
More neutrals
It's hard to tell from the picture but the fabric in front lower pictures is the lavender/pearl fabric. I don't know how this fabrics will play with the other fabrics in the quilt, but I am hoping that it works, especially if it is next to a purple or lavender in the quilt. I will just have to wait till we get to those colors to find out. I still have about a quarter yard left that I can use in other blocks if a neutral is needed.

I have the strips for my last 50 units cut. I only need to cut them into 2 inch units and sew them together to create the four patch. I have the rest of the week to finish, so I am pretty confident that I will complete this step.

Tomorrow is another day and another doctor appointment. I'll find out what the plan is to collect those elusive stem cells. I'm sure I'll be home to do the upcoming clue at least.

In the meantime I am on Christmas over drive. My cards are sent, most presents are bought and wrapped and I am making good progress toward getting the rest of the Christmas decorations done.
Christmas tree in great room.
The cat loves the tree, especially sleeping under it. He has not really bothered the tree or any ornaments, so far. A second smaller tree goes in the dining room today. It's amazing what you can get done when you are retired.

Coming next: Part II

Monday, November 21, 2016

Baby it's cold outside, so lets sew, sew, sew

What a difference. It was 78 a few days ago and 32 today, brrr. I can't say I am happy about this, but  I'm taking advantage and catching up on a few projects.

Since my last post I have completed the Paper Dolls top.  I guess I am just not that adventurous and decided to go with the simple border. I will use the wilder fabric as my backing.
Paper Dolls
This pattern was fun to make and actually goes together quickly. I think it would make a great Christmas quilt. Can't you just see the Paper Dolls decked out in their holiday attire?

The next project that is near completion is an old Bonnie Hunter leader/ender quilt top, called spools. I am not usually one to have UFO, but this got stuck away, and abandoned  a while ago. I came across it last week and decided to finish it. The rows still need to be sewn together. That is my project for today, plus the border. I have another row, but somehow the blocks are slightly larger, about a half inch. I may just leave those out. Once I decide about the larger blocks I will add a black border.
Border fabric


As you can see it is currently a square quilt.  I am seriously considering just adding a border and calling it a day. I think it would make a great wall hanging.

Lastly I am gathering my fabric for Bonnie Hunter's upcoming Mystery Quilt , En Provence. Here is the link.
I am using her colors this year: purple, lavender, yellow, green, magenta and neutrals.
Purples and a nice grunge for the magenta

Lavenders and yellows


Should this be a purple or lavender?

Can't forget the greens.

A few friends mention I have such a positive outlook. I am a glass half full person, but also a realist.  I have to agree that starting a big project like En Provence is a leap of faith. Last year I was so excited to do Bonnie's mystery. Life had other ideas and I spent the holiday's in the hospital. That quilt is still on my to do list and the fabric still in it's bin. As I looked through my fabric I realized I did not print out step one. I will purchase the on-line pattern, but I took that as a sign I should move forward, rather than play catch up with last year's mystery.

I decided to put En Provence at the head of my list. I love the colors. It should be such fun! I know I'll at least get the first few steps done. I'm still fighting my Multiple Myeloma. The stem cell transplant was delayed, as they could not collect enough of my stem cells to proceed. I've had a little rest, and hopefully we will be successful in collecting my stem cells and proceeding with the transplant before the end of the year. In the mean time I plan to sew, sew, sew. And if I end up in the hospital again this holiday, I will be sure to print ALL of the instructions before they are taken down.

So my next post, God willing, will be of En Provence.
A guy who knows how to relax!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Paper Dolls

After months of applique it's time to return to the thing I love. Piecing! Several months ago while browsing through my quilt books I came across Paper Dolls by Brandon Mably. It is different from the quilts I have made in the past, but I was drawn to the quilt and the memory of cutting out paper doll strips when I was a child. And I remember a song called Paper Doll that my dad loved. I think it was by the Mills Brothers.  So I thought this must be the one I'm meant to make.

The quilt pattern

The pattern came from this book.

Although I love Kaffe Fassett's fabric. My goal for this quilt is to put a dent into my bin of floral fabrics. I decided to pick fabrics that would reflect a day in the garden. I am considering sticking with various shades of green for the background. We will see how that works as I progress. These are the paper dolls I've completed so far.
This background is not a yellow as it looks in the picture.

Not sure how I feel about this background.

Dolls in blue dresses.

Four paper dolls.

All together I need 27 dolls, I am only planning on making two of each doll. They go together quickly and I have to say I am enjoying making these blocks.

While I've been working on this. I have also been helping my granddaughter with her purple tumbler. She spent the weekend and she was able to get all the rows sewn.
arranging her tumblers so there are no repeats in the row

Rows completed
Jana finished her rows and has selected a layout. The first two rows are sewn together. Once all the rows are sewn together she will add a purple border. She has not decided how it will be quilted.

We both made good progress this weekend. It will probably be at least a few weeks before we get together again. I go back in the hospital tomorrow for more chemo. Recovery is usually two to three weeks. See everyone then. Hopefully I will have more paper dolls to share.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Wrapping up 2016 Row by Row

It is with great relief that I report I have my top assembled for my 2016 Row by Row. I've learned many things working on this project.

First the positive. I like English Paper Piecing. I also enjoying playing around with designs and making them my own.

The flip side is, I don't like raw edge applique. I don't like doing it and I don't like the look of it. It may be my technique that is at fault. I even took a Craftsy class, hoping to get the skills I needed, but it was focused more on design and less on technique, so not much help. From a distance things look pretty good, but get too close and my, on my.  I discovered that certain fusible products may gum up your needle, which may cause your thread to break. This is frustrating. I wonder how this thing will hold up if it is washed?

As in the past I really modified the last pattern to suit my needs. It was a beautifully, detailed and complicated row. I simplified it by using less pieces, which meant less applique. I don't think you miss the pieces I left out.

Home is where the Cats are-simplified-bottom row
I needed more rows to balance out the quilt, so I created a row for My Sunset Place, our favorite bed and breakfast in Port Clinton, Ohio. I used I photo I took from their deck to create this row. While not an exact replica it does catch the spirit of the photo. It is the top row. You can't get much closer, to the water than this.

Top row - My own creation. Which represents Our Sunset Place
 I needed one more row to complete the quilt. I had difficulty  deciding whether to make a wonky house or a lighthouse. In the end the lighthouse won. I thought it represented arriving home safely, so it fit into the theme of Home Sweet Home. You can see it on the left below.
Home Sweet Home-laid out

Overall I am happy with the way it turned out. I toyed with the idea of a border, but rejected that idea. Honestly I am just kind of sick of this quilt. I plan to bind it with dark blue, which I think will be a nice frame.  Once this is quilted there a few embellishments I want to add. There are buttons for the bird's eyes, and something for the top of the lighthouse.

Will I ever make another Row by Row. I don't think so. All that is left is to piece the back. I plan to make a row using the license plates down the middle of the back. I am hoping against hope that my friend Sandy Erwin will quilt this. I have no idea what to do with it. I thought about just a meandering stitch, but with all the applique I just don't know what to do.

Completed top

Tasks at hand:  Finish the back

Upcoming projects? I'm thinking Paper Dolls by Brandon Mably. As soon as I clean up my Row by Row mess I'll search by stash for inspiration.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Row by Rowing Along

My Row by Row Experience continues. I may regret this, but I am assembling the rows, but not machine stitching the appliques. I am afraid this will be a long tedious process. For now I am having fun creating.

I know I mentioned that I don't follow directions. I have found it impossible not to make changes here and there in the various rows. I nearly threw out the baby with the bath water when it came to the Dry Ridge Quilt Row. Here is their pattern.
Row by Row Pattern
 Here is the problem. I already have two other rows that spell out home. Do I need a third? Don't think so. My dad was from Dry Ridge and I want this to be special. It's not doing it for me. Sooo, I decided to make some changes. First I shrunk Kentucky, put a heart over Dry Ridge. Then I enlarged and moved out the house.

Kentucky, the Heart of it all.

Funky Home Sweet Kentucky Home
I still needed to balance out the row, so I created some woods to represent the Appalachian Trail and Daniel Boone Forest.

I've discovered that I do better if I just freehand my trees, branches, etc. So I just backed a piece of green and brown with fusible and cut away. I am happy with the results, as I like a more free flowing form than something structured. I plan to stitch the green down with a variegated thread to add texture.

Row by Row my style
The second row I completed was from FabricShack in Waynesville, OH. I have to admit I pretty much followed the directions. Again rather than trace leaves and branches I freelanced. Just fusing and cutting shapes as I went along. This block will need extra details added. I was worried about this one, but do like how it turned out. I still may add more branches and leaves above the birds. I am waiting until it's stitched to decide.

Lots of details to be added when the applique is stitched down, especially on the birds

My final Row to report on is from Apron Strings Quilt Shop in Maysville, KY. I had a fun trip there and decided to purchase the kit. I had never done English Paper Piecing. I am hooked. Last week I was hospitalized for treatment for my Myeloma. This was a project I was able to do while there. I felt I accomplished something, rather than sitting around. I only had to do the Dresden Plate when I returned home.  I'm planning to make Christmas wreaths and trees during my next stay.(Need to do something to keep my sanity). I can even use my GoBaby to make the kits.

As you can see I have not sewn the squares together. I think I will probably make this a vertical row, rather than horizontal as shown here.

So that's my progress so far. I have saved what I think is going to be the most difficult Row for last. I also am designing a row for Our Sunset Place, our favorite home away from home on Lake Erie. But that is a story for another post.