Monday, November 28, 2011

Step 2 Orca Bay Mystery

I just love making string blocks! I like everything about it. I get to use something that might otherwise be thrown away and I find sewing them very relaxing. I normally don't like trimming, but on string blocks I do because that's when you get to see what the block really looks like. I even like pulling off the paper on the back. I use phone book pages to piece my string blocks on and the paper comes off easily, and I find it really fun to do while watching a movie or something. I don't watch a lot of TV so it is like a guilty pleasure to watch a movie or TV show while pulling off the paper on string blocks.

Here are some of my string blocks from step 2. They are all finished and in that pile to the right in the photo. I didn't have enough rust strings, so I ended up using all kinds of oranges except for the light peaches. I'm hoping they still read as a dark orange-rust.Link
You can see several other quilter's progress on the mystery quilt here

I found some time to work on my string Christmas stockings. I started out just having everyone pick a color, but there are too many of us to be able to get away with that. These are the red, orange, and Kansas City Chiefs red and gold stockings. I am working on DH's stocking now, he picked a burgundy/gray combo which is his favorite color combination. After I get DH's done, I still have to make a purple stocking and mine which will be selvages. I am sewing the strings directly to Warm and Natural batting. When I have all the stockings done as far as the strings go, I will layer them with some muslin, use the "Magic Stocking" method and instead of adding a cuff on the top, I am just planning on using double fold bias tape along the top edges. I have several stockings I worked on last year ready to go, and I am hoping I can get the whole stack finished in a couple long sewing days. I'd like to make a few extra stockings, because the way our family keeps growing, I know I'll end up needing more ;-)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Feeling a Little Green...

I have a nasty cold that is making me feel a bit green.

I do not look near as good in green as Mr. L does. (look at that tongue, isn't this a great pic?)

Hopefully I will be feeling better soon.

But I still won't bee as cute as Miss S.

Now that I have shamelessly shown off my grandtwins, I will go back to quilty things.

Here are all of step one hour glass units for the Orca Bay Mystery. Well, I actually haven't counted them, but I cut a few extra pairs so I seriously doubt I am short. I should have a couple units extra. I trimmed all the dog ears off while watching A Christmas Carol with DD#2 last night.

Clue number two came out today, and I got a three of these units done, but I am almost done several more. I think Bonnie said to make 72 of them, so now just 69 to go.

Since I was working with orange strings, and I needed to make an orange stocking for Mr. L, I mostly worked on the stocking front and back, and made a couple string blocks as leaders/enders for the stocking.

I am hoping to get most of the step 2 string blocks pieced this weekend. I'm not going to worry about trimming them, I just want them pieced. I babysit Monday and Tuesday, then Wednesday DH and I are supposed to fly to Houston to see DS the Elder. If I can get all of the string blocks pieced, I could bring a small cutting mat, a rotary cutter, my 3 1/2" square ruler, and the blocks to Houston with me and trim the blocks in our hotel room. We are supposed to come home Saturday, so I won't be starting on clue 3 right away. I am really going to try to have steps one and two finished by then. These little string blocks work up really fast, so I think I should be able to finish them.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Baker's Dozen

I am done with my shirt cutting spree! All my new containers are neatly put away with freshly cut strips just waiting patiently for their turn to play.

Here is what I've gotten done on step one of the Orca Bay Mystery- a baker's dozen of hourglass blocks. I am basically doing a photo negative of Bonnie's quilt, much like I did with RRCB. I am putting darks where she has lights and lighter (none of my colors are very light this time) colors where she has dark, so the brown is my neutral, and the yellow-golds are my black.

Here are my pairs just waiting to be made into whole units. I have all of the triangles sewn into pairs, so I am really not too far from being done step one. Each of these piles are the same within the pile, and I am mixing them up as I sew them into units. I like to have lots of variety in my units. I will trim all the dog ears while watching a movie or something when I am finished all of the units.

As I was going through pics from DD#1's visit, I saw this one and I think it's my favorite. Mr. Z was pretending to drive Gramps (my DH) around. They were having a blast together! DH had to bring the Red Rocket back to it's owner today, so no more playing with that. He'll have to play with his own scooters now, but I think this has given him the itch to get a sidecar.

Today I didn't do anything in the sewing room besides take the photos in this post. Today was an errand day, and I'm just not feeling that great, so no energy to do anything besides the minimum.

Tomorrow is another day with some errands, we're going to buy the twins their first shoes! They are crawling now and pulling up on things. It is too cool for them to be barefoot, but they slide too much in their socks, even the gripper socks don't grip enough since our floors are tile. I guess it's time for shoes to help them stop sliding and hopefully, eliminate some of the falls, though some are inevitable at this stage. Maybe I will get some sewing done tomorrow.

Thanksgiving is done at our house. DH is working on Thanksgiving anyway. Aren't you glad Emergency Rooms aren't closed on holidays? I think the girls and I are going to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade then go see the new Muppet movie on Thursday. This will be the first Thanksgiving I haven't cooked in many, many years.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Waylaid By a Completely Different Project!

I was so excited to start the Orca Bay Mystery! I got up Friday morning, put on my comfy clothes and my quilting happy socks, ran downstairs to DH's computer where the printer is and printed out the intro and step one.

Ah the fun I would have, making the first units. I really enjoy making that particular unit, so I was all set to go. I decided to dig through my 1 1/2" strip drawers to see if I had any strips in the correct colors. I did, so I got those out and set them on the cutting table. I also dug out strips in the colors I will be doing string blocks in, since I know I don't have enough string stash in those colors. I knew I had a few more men's shirt in my shirt stash that were the right colors, so I got out that stash and started to go through it looking for fabrics in my colors for the mystery quilt.

THAT'S WHEN IT HAPPENED! I was looking through all my shirts that I've been collecting, and they took over! Petting all that fabric got to me, and I glanced up at the plastic containers I bought a few weeks ago to put strips of my shirt fabrics in after they are cut and sorted by size. The containers were all empty, and looking all forlorn, and the shirts were so soft, temporary insanity was here! It started innocently enough, and I decided to separate out the collar and cuff pieces which I use for strings. One container for light strings, one for dark, this won't take long at all... Since I am going to be cutting for the mystery quilt anyway, maybe I should keep out one piece of each shirt, and I can just cut the shirt pieces into strips little at a time....Yeah, that's a good idea...a few shirt fronts, maybe a sleeve here and there, just one piece from each shirt, it will be so nice to start pre-cutting for some of many Bonnie quilts I'd like to make from shirts...

That was yesterday morning, and I have yet to cut any more strips for the mystery quilt :-(

I have however, cut lots of strips from shirts. 3 1/2", 2 1/2", 2", and 1 1/2" strips, divided by light and dark. When I took this photo this evening, I was almost done with the dark shirt pieces.

Here are the string containers I started with, it all seemed so quick and easy at first, who knew it would take so long?

Lest you think I got no cutting done on the mystery quilt, here are 230 pairs for step one. I only took the time to cut up the strips from my strip drawers, I haven't cut any strips from the fabrics I pulled for the mystery. I haven't sewn a stitch on my mystery quilt yet, but I think that tomorrow, I should be able to finish cutting those shirt pieces I took out, and then I can start the mystery quilt in earnest.

I didn't work on what I planned on working on, but the up side is I have the cutting started for several other projects I want to make. It's all good, right?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Where Do You Shelve Your Rusts?

I bought a few men's shirts to use in the Orca Bay Mystery quilt by Bonnie K. Hunter at which starts on Friday. I finished cutting those up this evening. I decided I would like a few more fat quarters of gold and rust, so I went to Joanns to look for some. I looked first at the orange fat quarters, and I only found one I thought would work. I then picked up a few gold fat quarters since the yellows were right next to the oranges. I kept looking and found all the rusts in with the browns. I tend to shelve my rusts with the oranges, though I do have a few darker ones with the browns.

This brought up an interesting quandary. If I use rust and brown will there be enough contrast between them? I had decided to use brown as my background color, and green, rust, and gold as my colors. I finally dug out some fabrics tonight, and this is what I have so far.

The top row shows my browns, I eliminated the most of the lighter browns, and any orange-y browns. The middle row shows my golds and "rusts" which after I eliminated the browner ones, are leaning towards burnt orange. I think I will still eliminate the "rust" on the far right, it is blending in with browns too much. On the bottom I have my greens, I'm going for more of an evergreen feel in my greens.

All of these were pulled from my men's shirt stash or my less than one yard pieces. I can certainly come up with some more variety by looking at my yardage.

On the bottom left of the photo, you can see a couple of my bags of strings. The bottom bag has all green strings, the top bag has browns, yellows, and oranges all mixed together. Obviously I am rather short on those colors, so whichever color I choose for the strings will have to be supplemented. I made an autumn colored string quilt the end of last year, and I pretty much used all of my fall-colored strings up on that. I made a green string quilt last year too, but that was the beginning of last year, so I've had more time to replace them. I don't like to cut strings on purpose, I just have them as by-products of squaring up my fabric, so I'm hoping I can just add enough from my 1 1/2" and 2" strip drawers to work. I normally only have strings narrower than 1 1/2", but this time I'll be using what I have on hand. I may cut some 2 1/2" strips in half, and use those for strings too. I'll just have to see.

Now I need to decide which color to use for which of Bonnie's colors. Who knows, tomorrow I may rethink it all and decide to use cream as my background after all!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

It Took So Much More Than a Village!

Have you ever heard the saying, "It takes a village to raise a child" ? Well, DD#1 and her family just finished visiting us from South Africa, and I know it took far more than a village for that trip to occur. Three round-trip plane tickets from South Africa to the USA are not cheap, and none of us could afford them. With the help of people on both sides of the ocean chipping in, the plane tickets were purchased.

Since we already have six people in the house, adding three more was going to make things very crowded. Some friends lent us a 30' RV and parked it in our backyard for their stay, so they could have their own space.

Another friend babysat so we could go see a show, yet another friend lent DH her scooter with a sidecar to take Mr. Z for scooter rides. Mr. Z loves his motah bikes and scootahs! Their trip wouldn't have happened at all without help from a bunch of great people, and it was made much better by others willing to lend their time, talents and possessions. Whenever you get discouraged about the way the world is going, remember there are still great people out there, they just don't make the news.

Here are DSIL, Mr. Z, and DD#1 exploring the cave at the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum.

Mr. Z got to have his first experience with snow up on Mt Lemmon.

Mr Z tried out a model of desert tortoise shell.

Here is their whole family playing in the snow! DSIL said it was his first real snowball fight, though he had seen snow before.

This was Mr. Z's favorite activity by far! He loved going in the scooter for rides!

Sorry the pics are out of order. DH put all of the photos on his computer, and then erased them. His computer doesn't act the same as mine when blogging, and I couldn't switch the order of pics.

After I recover from all the fun and visiting, I'll be anxious to start the mystery quilt on Friday!