My family (Mom, brothers and their families) take a beach vacation to Hatteras, NC every year. We always go the week before Memorial Day, mostly because it's a lot less expensive for a house the size that we need. This year we were pretty sure that we would not get to go and were making plans to reschedule for the fall. Then we were surprised and thrilled to learn that the North Carolina beaches were opening May 16, the first day of our reservation!
We eat all but one of our meals in on a regular vacation and we were still able to do pizza night as takeout so, for the first time in 2 months, we all had a NORMAL week and it was fantastic. I've never needed a vacation more and we didn't even mind that we really only had 3 beach weather days. We enjoyed the rainy days with puzzles, books, shopping, games and just being near each other. My nephew introduced us to a fun card game called Phase 10 that's a variation of Rummy. I'm totally addicted now.
But now it's time to get back to "work". That started with a lot of ironing yesterday getting more kitchen towels ready for my local food pantry fundraiser, prepping quilt backs and new fabric for the shop tomorrow.
I didn't take any sewing to do on vacation for the first time ever! But I did take crochet and this pretty blanket was finished.
The pattern is called Wrapped In Love and I really enjoyed making it. You can get the pattern on Etsy. I've bought a few patterns now and the quality is just as random as sewing and quilting patterns. Some are great and some are awful. This is one of the good ones.
I think that this one is going to be gifted to the daughter of a friend instead of donating it. Sarah got a quilt with her first child but I think a crochet blanket would be a nice change for baby #2.
Then I got started on a new blanket using 2 balls of this Lion Brand Cupcake yarn. I've tried a few different patterns for this yarn but eventually settled on a close scallop stitch. I even learned how to do a foundation single crochet for this blanket.
I love the stitch, the yarn and the colors of this one! This is the first ball done. I worked the first one from the center out and I'll work the second ball from the outside in so that the colors reverse. I only did a few rows of the orange for the center. That ball is the leftover outside orange from the first ball. I'll tie on and add the outside orange from the second ball and use that for a simple border.
But after a week away from fabric and thread I'm anxious to get back to quilting. Yesterday I prepared backs for 2 quilts that Mom made. One of these should get loaded and basted today. Both will get simple pantographs. I'll also put out a call for my quilt group to bring veterans quilts for quilt. Virginia is opening so slowly that I don't know when we will be able to have a meeting again so I'll offer for people to bring me quilts. The VA hospital still needs and wants the quilts!
Good thing I have so many quilt kits cut out for veterans quilts! I'll continue working on those. The only other project that I have on the horizon is a quilt for SIL #3. The penguin and cat quilts were delivered last week. SIL #3 has asked for wild animal prints! That means that shopping is on the horizon.
The cat quilt brother and SIL weren't able to come to the beach but we stopped by their house on the way home to deliver it. Later Saturday night my brother reported that "the Princess" approved. That's all we quilters wish for.
Every once in a while we actually get to live the weekend that we planned and this was one of those weekends! The weather was really, really unseasonably cold but the sun was bright so it was fine to sit outside yesterday to chat with some friends. They were my only social time this weekend the rest of the time I was doing things!
I got both of the Blockade veterans quilts quilted and bound. I like seeing them side-by-side to see how different they look just by changing the palette for the hand dyed fabrics. I like both of them a lot but I can see where people would have strong preferences for one or the other.
When I quilt the veterans quilts I am trying to use up a huge stash of King Tut thread and I was able to use purple thread on these quilts.
Two more veterans quilts ready for delivery!
I also screen printed some tea towels to get ready for my next fundraiser sale in a couple of weeks. I have a couple more dozen to dye but I wanted to do some in white.
I got in a little more crochet in the evenings. I'm really loving this pattern and I know I'll make it again. If you like this one just search "filet crochet baby blanket pattern" on Etsy and you will find it. This yarn is Hobby Lobby I Love This Yarn and I do actually like it a lot.
But the big news of the weekend is that the cat quilt is quilted! It was the last thing I finished so this was all I had the energy to photograph. Today or tomorrow I will get the binding done. Then I need to make labels for this and the penguin quilt. I want these done, done by Friday.
It's late Thursday evening while I write this and my allergies are messed up but I want to get this posted before I turn in so pardon me if it's a little disjointed or full of typos. But as a consolation there are lots of photos! I spent the day getting the cat quilt ready for quilting and that turned into quite the grueling task.....because, you know, I get IDEAS.
The cat quilt has 3 borders. One blue border was already added, then there's a print border and finally another blue border. Simple, right? It was until I got the great idea that the print border had to be totally symmetrical. These 2 photos are of the same print fabric with strips of the blue positioned to highlight stripes so I could choose what I wanted. The left is lengthwise and the right is crosswise. I chose the left one in the right side photo.
I needed 8 strips, 2 for each side. I think those 2 spots look like cat eyes. This border had to be planned from the corners to the middle so that meant that the whole border had to be constructed like a frame and then stitched onto the quilt. It was a little overwhelming but I just took it one step at a time.
First I made all 4 corners and they are stitched to within 1/4" of the inside corner so that I can stitch it onto the quilt like a Y seam. Next I had to do a bunch of math, some of it really bad, to figure out how long each leg would need to be to meet up with the next corner so that the join was a symmetrical design. My brain was hurting during this part and I made a bunch of mistakes and I completely forgot to take more photos. I was smart enough to make all of my join seams with a long stitch length until I knew that I had it just right. I even stitched two wrong legs together once and wound up with and S shape instead of a frame.
Here's I've finally got it all the frame seams basted and the frame pinned to the quilt top. As I sewed the frame in sections I'd stop to stitch the join seams and trim the excess fabric.
Here are the joins: corner, top/bottom and sides. It's PERFECTLY symmetrical. I will admit that this border ended up a little wavy but I was able to reign it in with the final blue border and a good steam press.
Aside from some early morning grocery shopping, this is ALL that I accomplished Thursday. I'm really thrilled! I'm glad I took the extra time to do a symmetrical border. I may be the only person who actually notices it but I don't care. I now know that I can do it. I can't wait to get it quilted and bound and I hope that happens in the next week.
Today I think I'm going to load 2 veterans quilts to quilt up really fast and screen print some tea towels.
...because there isn't anything else to do!
The first thing that happened is that I got this veterans quilt top together Friday night and cleared off the cutting table so I could cut the background pieces for the cat quilt. I have print fabrics cut for 2 more quilts like this and just need to cut the alternating solid fabrics. I need to decide if I'm going to do them multicolored fabrics like this or one color or some sort of pattern. I'm still pondering that.
Saturday morning I got up and tackled the mosaic wall first thing. Of course it took most of the day and I was exhausted when I was done. Grouting is a beastly job and I have to do it in a respirator because I'm so allergic to the off gassed VOCs. I don't have a photo yet because there are fans set up in front of the wall and windows open to deal with the off gassing as it cures. I'll have an official photo in a couple of days.
I did some crochet Friday and Saturday nights and got through the second skein of this yarn. I have one skein left and it's not going to be enough. I should have made the blanket narrower but it's too late for that now. I don't like this yarn enough to rip it out and start over. I ordered another skein (plus some other yarn, of course). By the time I get through the third one the new one should be here and I can get this one wrapped up. While I don't care for the patterning in the yarn it sure does make a very soft blanket.
Meanwhile my SIL picked her 2 least favorite cats so I could get started on sewing the cat quilt together!
I cut all the sashing and borders.
Got the rows together.
By dinnertime Sunday I had the center of the quilt together. I LOVE it! There will be 2 borders: a 2.5" print border and a 4" blue border. I had a fabric all picked out for the print but when Chris and I saw a sample pinned on the wall we hated it.
I could do a scrappy border of a variety of prints but I really want the border to have symmetry too. We decided on this fabric and of course I didn't have enough. I found it at an Etsy seller and I've already received the shipping notice.
Until that comes in I'll go back to working on the veterans quilts that I cut from the scraps. One day this week I will clean out the basement now that my mosaic endeavors are over. That's going to clear a bunch of crap out of the basement and I can now get back to playing with glass instead.
The last of the cats are done! I even made 2 spares and have asked my SIL to pick her 2 least favorites for eviction to the local animal shelter (scrap bin). This last group really cracks me up. There are 2 means one, one that thinks it's a pig, a grandpa with whiskers, one on drugs and a raccoon.
Here's the whole group. If you were evicting 2 of them which would you choose? I hope to start putting the quilt top together tomorrow or Friday, as soon as I hear back from JJ on her choices. These blocks have been so much fun to make. I'm going to miss working on them!
I also spent a good bit of time the past 2 days preparing and dyeing more tea towels. That's going to be a continuing theme for a few weeks I think.
After the cats were done I wasn't in the mood to do anything new so I started cutting up fabrics in the scrap bin. Some of the fabrics in there crack me up, like this one.
I think you can see from the before bin photo above that I've made some pretty good progress. I'm cutting as many Blockade blocks as I can and with what's left I'm cutting 3.5 and 2.5" squares. Other chunks are going into the blue basket for possible crumb blocks. I'm not really committed to the crumb blocks yet but the other pieces will eventually become veterans quilts. It will probably take me a week to slowly work my way through this bin of scraps.
In the evenings there's crochet. This color palette is quite beachy and this is 1 skein of the Ice Cream yarn. I'm doing a simple blanket stitch because it's wonderfully mindless. I bought 3 skeins of this yarn but I'm not convinced that it's going to be enough. I'm going to get the second skein done and then decide if I need to find one more.
Today is dyeing day and I'm feeling like maybe some shibori.
Does anyone know what day it is?
Every morning when I wake up I spent the first 5 minutes trying to figure out what day it is. I don't mean the date, I've completely lost track of that, but the DAY. I swear I thought it was Thursday for most of yesterday. I really can't complain that all my days seem the same because I'm spending most of them doing things I enjoy. But I would like to have my Mom come over for dinner or just to hang out and to go have drinks in a real bar with friends.
I did actually get to catch up with a few friends in person this weekend. A couple came by to pick up tea towels (those things are selling like hot cakes!) and then another group of friends came over Sunday to visit. Everyone brought their own chairs and we sat outside in our big driveway keeping appropriate distance. We all needed it. All meetings were done recognizing the proper distance requirements.
I thought I was going to have all of the cats done this weekend but I have one more set to sew. I did get them cut out so I'm really close.
I had to get them finished because THIS was driving me nuts. I have to have all the fabric out in the floor when I work on these because I need to be able to see the patterns and colors in all the fabrics but after 2 weeks I'd had enough.
There we go. I feel much better. I have breathing room again.
As I was cutting the cats I've also been cutting pieces to finish up this Blockade quilt to use as a veterans quilt. The pieces are cut from fabrics that have been cut up so much that there are either chunks about to fall off the main piece or the fabric has so many holes that there isn't much symmetry left in it.
This is a bin of scraps that I've collected over the years that might be reasonable size chunks or who knows what. I'll go through it over time and either cut more Blockade blocks or squares or decide to make crumb blocks or something. The point is that I'm not going to just shove it back in the cabinet. I'm going to actually make a decision to do something with it even if that decision involves a trash can. You know me, it's unlikely to see the trash.
I've also made a decision about this. I just don't like it anymore for the original idea that I had for it. I'm not going to toss the pieces out. I will rearrange them and make another veterans quilt from them. Veterans quilts are my current go-to solution for all kinds of things I'm creatively done with.
I also screen printed a bunch of tea towels that I'll dye this coming week and there was some crochet happening in the evenings. I like working with this Lion Brand Ice Cream yarn. I'm not loving as much the patterning of this colorway but it's making a really soft blanket and works up very fast. This is most of 1 skein. I have 3 skeins but I think I'm going to want 4. I'll see where I am after the 2nd one before I order more yarn because there's no going to the store to find more locally!
This week Chris says that I might be able to grout that last mosaic wall Thursday! That would be a nice project to have on my April finishes list. I'll also get the last of the cat blocks done so I can start putting this quilt together. I have 10 days so I could get this quilt finished for April too!
Yesterday was dyeing day but there was still plenty of time to finish up the cats that I started this weekend. I only have 8 more to make but I might make a few extra so that when I lay out the quilt I can replace any that don't make me happy. My favorite in this group is the on on the lower right.
Here are all 12 that I've made so far. These are so much fun! I've done all the "paperwork" that I needed to do this week so today is pretty much a day reserved for exercise and sewing.
The other thing that I work on between crochet session is stitching on the shibori scrap postcards. I have 16 bases of scraps sewn together and I'm adding little bits of hand stitching before fusing them to postcard interfacing and finishing them. It turns out that these are a lot of fun too! I'm making them in sets of 4 and I've already started stitching on the next set. It's just another fun thing to do in the evenings.
Now that my mask making marathon is over I can get around to doing some of the things that normal people are doing during the quarantine...cleaning. I don't have closets that need cleaning because I keep up with that pretty well but there are things that need periodic cleaning and now is a great time to get them all done. Plus there are some other chores around outside that I can get started on. My goal is one thing each day.
Saturday it was to vacuum and clean the laundry closet. The laundry closet is basically a double wide closet off the upstairs hall and it just big enough for the washer, dryer and laundry baskets in between. About once a year the lint and dust behind the machines and on the shelf finally gets on my nerves. So that was Saturday's task and it only took about an hour. I keep the light bulbs in there too and discovered that we have lightbulbs for about 3 lifetimes. After quarantine is over I'll donate a bunch to the local food pantry. They take all kinds of household items for their clients.
Yesterday's goal was to start tackling some of the weeds outside but first I got sidetracked by deep cleaning the stove and stove vent. That is such a dirty job but it's done for another few months. Then I sprayed weeds for about an hour. There are several more session of weed control in my future.
Soon I hope to grout the last mosaic section (once I can have the windows open for several days) and then the biggest annual chore of cleaning the basement will commence.
It does feel good to get some of these things done. If all goes well I'll have a summer of absolutely no chores to do.
It wasn't all cleaning this weekend! I also got 4 more cats done and have another 4 cut out and ready to sew. These are so much fun. I'm almost sorry that I only need 20 of them. I call these crazy, mad, tiger and techno.
Speaking of cleaning, there's going to be quite a mess to clean up when these are done. The only way I can work on my symmetry projects is to have ALL of the fabric spread out in the floor. The ones over by the design wall are the ones that I've used already. I may use some of them again but I'm trying to get a very wide variety of fabrics in the mix.
Many of the fabrics look like this! These are shapes used in previous projects but this is still a perfectly good piece of fabric with lots of repeats remaining to use. Folding these fabrics can be a real challenge.
I work on them here. You can see the white cardboard that I use to stage the pieces. I usually start by finding the eyes and then pull fabrics from the floor that I think might work with the eyes and then audition the eye pieces with the fabrics to find the head, jaw and ear pieces. Sometimes I find the adjacent pieces really quickly and sometimes it takes a half hour to find the piece that will work. I love it, it's very zen. I'm sure that my blood pressure drops when I work on these.
In the evenings there's time for some crochet and I've gotten the white border added to the granny square. I left some white for a final edge so I only have 1 skein of the purple before all of this yarn is finally gone! These granny square blankets go really quickly.
This week I'm mostly working on the cats but,weather permitting, I may grout the mosaic for a quick April finish.
I'll admit right up front that making masks isn't a fun task but it's also not fun to be a nurse, delivery person or store cashier right now either. Calls for masks started coming in last week and have continued all weekend. I made this group of 30 Friday night and Saturday morning and they were all gone by Saturday afternoon. 12 went to our local pharmacy and the rest went to family and friends and families of friends. I give one to every delivery person who comes to the house too. Many of these were mailed but we actually got to "visit" with some friends who came to pick theirs up. It would have been funny to watch us all dance around in the driveway passing off a bag of masks but is was good to see friends and chat for a few minutes.
But this batch didn't sate the need so I got back to cutting Saturday night and sewing Sunday morning.
Saturday night I cut out 60 more and got 30 of then sewn together Sunday. I'm down to using tshirt strips for ties but they work just fine. I think people are starting to accept that wearing a mask is the new reality and will be for several more months to come. I'll keep making these as long as they are needed and I know many of you are doing the same. It feels good to be able to do SOMETHING/ANYTHING productive. The next 30 are all in that leaf print fabric. My batik fabric collection is actually getting pretty skimpy.
Over that past week I was able to set aside some time to start the a new quilt.
Now that the penguin quilt is done for my SIL, Carol, it's time to make a quilt for my SIL, JJ. JJ LOVES cats and she liked my cat wall hanging that I made last fall. So I'm doing a large version for her.
First I had to work out the pattern. These are going to be some giant cat heads.finishing at 8 x 10. The pattern that I used for the wall hanging is on the left but I wanted to avoid the trapezoid between the ears. I re-drafted to the one on the right. This way I can cut squares for all the HST pieces.
I split the face into 3 pieces on each side and the symmetry will be straight down the middle on all of them. I'm not going to get into any complex piecing. Here are the pieces cut for the first cat.
Here's the first block. JJ's favorite color is blue so the background is a blue Marbella fabric, also designed by Paula Nadelstern. This will be a total Paula quilt.
Here are the first 4 blocks just placed on a length of the background fabric. I sent this to JJ to get approval before proceeding. She loved it, Mom loved it and Chris loved it so I'm moving on this week to focus on this between mask making sessions.
While I have these fabrics spread all over the sewing room I'm also cutting pieces to finish this quilt that I started a few years ago. All the blocks are supposed to look like they are spinning. This will be a larger version of my Pleiades quilt.
But wait, there's more!
When cutting into the symmetry fabrics the fabric is left looking like Swiss cheese. When there are bits left hanging on the edges that aren't really useful I'm cutting them for a Blockade veterans quilt.We'll see how this goes.
I've also been doing some crochet but just haven't gotten around to taking photos.I'm almost done with the ripple blanket so might get motivated to at least take a completion photo later this week.
Today Chris is going grocery shopping early and taking some masks to the grocery store and then I'll take groceries to my Mom. Her apartment complex is locked down pretty tight. They had a confirmed case last week but, so far, no others. They said that the resident didn't use any of the common facilities (like the restaurant) so I'm guessing that she had some in-home health care. There are a couple of nursing homes here that have had serious infections. Mom is staying in except for a daily walk outside and coming to the gate to get groceries from me. I got her an r95 mask from my craft supplies and goggles.She was a nurse so she knows how to protect herself and she's doing really well and sewing a lot. I'm not feeling very optimistic about the family vacation in May. Although it's a dedicated beach house and there's only 10 of us (in a giant house) I don't know if North Carolina will have the Outer Banks open by then. There's no need to worry about it.
The pollen has been horrendous around here. It seems like everything came out all at once. I'm hoping for rain tomorrow so I can get out in the kayak Wednesday.
I hope you and your family and friends are all safe and well.
I'm Vicki Welsh and I've been making things as long as I can remember. I used to be a garment maker but transitioned to quilts about 20 years ago. Currently I'm into fabric dyeing, quilting, Zentangle, fabric postcards, fused glass and mosaic. I document my adventures here.
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