Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Wrap-Up, 2015 Goals???

Happy New Year!

I've been reflecting on 2014 the past few days, and thinking about the year to come. I always get that way this time of year. 2014 was quite the year for me. Lots of house remodeling, two weddings at my house, a couple short trips, a trip long overdue to see my parents, one kid graduated college, and overall, it was just a huge year of change.

Amidst all the chaos, I did get some quilting done! Here are my empty spools for the year.

It may not look like much, but since the cones held 6,000 yards each, and most of the rest held 1,000 yards or more, it actually represents 14 miles of thread used. I finished 15 quilts in 2014, three of which were king sized, most of the rest at least twin. That's actually far more quilts finished than I thought I'd have this year. I didn't track yardage this year, but a rough guess would be 200 yards of fabric used. If anything, that's low, since I made some non-quilting projects as well.

Planning for 2015 has been really stumping me. There are a lot of unknowns for this year, and as such, I can't even estimate how much sewing time will be available. I do have a few deadline quilts I already know about.

1) I have a great niece due in February. Quilt top done, backing ready, batting ready, needs to be pin-basted, quilted and bound.

2) DD#1 asked for a quilt for her birthday in May. I'm making Bonnie Hunter's Grand Illusion mystery quilt for her, and I've caught up and I'm ready for the next clue.

3) I promised DD#2 the "babymaker" quilt by her second wedding anniversary. (The movie, The Proposal, with Sandra Bullock has a pineapple quilt called the "babymaker", and I told DD#2 when she got married I'd make her one.) Her second anniversary won't be until December 2015, but I've got the quilt cut out and ready to start.  I'd love to have it done at least a couple months ahead of time.

4) I have a quilt promised to a little girl that I've yet to come through with, lots of emotional issues for me on that one. I'd like to get it made, and I know I'd feel better for having it done.

5) Another of my "adopted" kids is getting married, and I designed a quilt for them, and it's already started. Still lots of cutting to do for that one though. They are talking an October wedding.

6) I was supposed to make a quilt for a service dog last January, and guess what never got done? I haven't forgotten, just haven't taken the time to do it.

Wow! That's already more than I thought. Writing it down sure puts things into perspective. Besides my "must be made" quilts, I don't have a lot of goals. Maybe get a couple projects boxes emptied, finish a couple UFO's. I have three UFOs to finish that are not my UFO's. One from each of DH's grandmother's, and one from one of his great-aunts. Finishing other people's projects is not usually much fun for me, so every time I've inherited someone's stash, I choose one project to finish, and I use everything else they started differently than they planned. It's obvious I put off finishing them, since I still have all three projects I chose unfinished. I'd like to think 2015 could be the year for this.

I think my goals for 2015 could be condensed to "Clear the Decks" or maybe "Don't Bring Me Down", because I'd like to work on the things that have been weighing on me, because they aren't finished. I don't have a problem having a few of my own projects unfinished, having a couple quilt tops around has saved me a few times, when I needed a gift, and didn't have time to make a quilt from scratch; finish a UFO, and voila, a gift! On the other hand, when something is unfinished because it's an emotional issue for me, that is burdensome. Those are the things I'd like to start knocking off my list, losing some emotional weight, (though actual weight would be good too).

I am on a self-imposed sewing no-buy for 2015. I'm not doing it because I feel guilty about my stash, because I don't. I'm thankful I have a large stash to work from. I'm mostly doing it because I have other things I'd rather do with my money this year, and I shouldn't need much on the quilty front. I may have to buy a border for the wedding quilt, and if I do, that's fine. I'm thinking if I need something to finish a current project, then I will get it, but not buy to stash anything, nor buy for a new unplanned project. Even if more wedding quilts or baby quilts come up, I should be able to make them from stash easily. I have a couple quilts started that are long term projects I use as leaders/enders occasionally, that would make great wedding quilts.

I have some non-quilting projects I'd like knocked off my list as well, and as I was just reminded while making DH some scrub tops, garment sewing goes much faster than making a quilt, so even without a lot of sewing time, I should be able to get several projects finished if I make them priority.

So what will I actually get done in 2015? I have no idea, but my main thoughts are to make the things I need to make for people I love, and then finish up some things that are becoming a burden just thinking about them.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Grand Illusion Clues 4&5

I thought I'd have lots of sewing time last week, but that didn't happen. I did, however, spend a lot of time shopping, both online and in several stores. I didn't think I needed anything, until my refrigerator died, and I found out it was not worth repairing. New fridge arrives today! Christmas must be hard on my kitchen, last Christmas week I had water coming up through my kitchen floor, and this year my refrigerator dies.

Even without as much sewing time as I thought I'd have, I did rock and roll on the clues last week. I finished the rest of clues 1, 2, and 3. I finished the last of clue 4 last night, though not all of them are pressed.

Here are some of my clue 4 units. I did the 40 in one configuration and then the 40 in the other, because I was afraid I'd mess it up.

This morning I ran downstairs and sewed up a few clue 5. I was probably only downstairs about a half hour, and I got the 4 set B ones done, and six of the set A. I'm thinking less than an hour more work, and I'll be up to date, including pressing.

Here are my Step 5's. My colors are similar to Bonnie's, but have different color placements, so I make myself a cheat sheet every step.

Here are some of all my units together in no particular order. I have an idea of how this will go together, can't wait to see if I'm right! Thanks for the mystery Bonnie, as usual, I'm having a blast!

To see how everyone else is doing on the Grand Illusion mystery quilt, go here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Doll quilt for Christmas

I had a little time for sewing today, so I finished up some potholders for a Christmas gift, and this little doll quilt for Miss S. The doll quilt is 19" square, and the scrappy parts are the ends of strips of 30's repro prints from which I cut the Dresden Plates. It's pretty fun making small stuff from time to time, you can get several finishes in a day. I spend so much time making HUGE quilts, that just knocking out a couple small things is quite a change.
I haven't sewn any more on the mystery quilt, but I did finish drawing the lines for step 2, so that is helpful. Tomorrow I should have some sewing time after grocery shopping. I plan on just working on the mystery quilt tomorrow. Yeah, I still have the other superhero capes to make, but they aren't for Christmas, and I've been good at getting my Christmas stuff done, so I think I deserve a play day to work on the mystery quilt. Well, deserve one or not, I'm taking one, we'll just call it a mental health day.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Grand Illusion- Clue 3

It's mostly Christmas stuff going on around here, or birthday stuff. DS the Younger turned 22, so there was his birthday dinner to make, and more Christmas stuff to make. I made a couple Christmas scrub tops for DH, which he is having fun wearing to work, Christmas themed AND they both have scooters on them! I made a couple superhero capes for grandkids far away, and got their package in the mail. I have at least three more capes to make, but the twins aren't getting theirs until their birthday in January, so it gives me a little more time.

I think I've got a handle on Christmas things now, which is great since we are celebrating Christmas on the 21st! DH is working Christmas as usual, and the 21st seemed like it would work for everyone, so that's when we'll do it. I'm hoping I can do some catch up with the mystery quilt sewing after the 21st.

I've got about 40 clue 1 units done now (and all the extra HST's), I've still just got the two units done for clue 2, but yesterday I cut all the strips (or dug them out of my scrap user system) for clue 3, and this morning I managed to sew up 10 clue 3 units!


With my color changes, these units ended up done in grayscale! I love it that these units are running a different measurement than the others. What does Bonnie have in mind??? I usually have my guesses, and I'm never right, Bonnie always surprises me, which is why I love her mystery quilts! So much fun to wonder where she's going with it.

Here are a couple clue 2 units with the other two clue's units. We're definitely mixing grays with brights!

I have the twins the next couple days, so I am mostly hoping to get the rest of my lines drawn for step 2. If I get that done, I'll be happy. Clue three is going to go fast, so I may end up finishing that clue first, just to get something finished. Depending on when DD#3 works, and how much I have the twins, I may be able to get caught up Christmas week. I think I'll likely be able to make some headway this week too. I have one more project to complete before "our" Christmas, but it's a quick one.

All my shopping and wrapping are finished, and I'm opting for Italian for Christmas dinner, not a huge feast with all the fixings. There will be 15 people at our Christmas, so not as many as Thanksgiving. Trying to keep things a little simpler.

If you want to see how everyone else is doing on the Grand Illusion Mystery quilt, click here.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Grand Illusion, Clue 2

The past week has been a wash for the most part. I had that nasty stomach bug, and now, although I am not sick anymore, I still don't feel 100%. I'm definitely not as productive as usual, so not much to show.

DD#2 and DSIL were down this weekend for a friend's wedding. Their first anniversary is today, and two of DD#2's bridesmaids have gotten married within the last year, with another one planning a wedding for next year. I've got the feeling in a couple years I'll be making lots of baby quilts.

This weekend I had the twins full-time, but I did manage to get the Christmas cookies baked. Well, four kinds of Christmas cookies anyway, triple batches of each. Some are in a box being sent to DS the Elder, some went home with DD#2, and a bunch went to work with DH today. I used to make about seven kinds of Christmas cookies, and I may make some more later, we'll see. I stuck all the ones left here in the freezer, to be taken out as needed. It's easier to resist them if they aren't out on the counter!

Even with company, and all the baking, I did manage to get clue two of the Grand Illusion Mystery quilt cut out! I am using method 3, which is the method I usually use for that unit. I'm making my bonus HST's 1.75" to work with another project I have going, so instead of my seam being a couple threads short, it's actually a couple threads larger. No worries, it will all be fine! I haven't finished drawing my lines, but this morning I did run down to sew a couple units so I could do the link-up.

Here are my two clue two units, with a couple clue one units. The only constant in my version is the neutral, which looks black, but is actually charcoal, not quite black.

I actually moved stuff off a third sewing sewing machine to do these units. I've been piecing on my Singer 201 (my current favorite vintage machine), and I have my 1/4" set perfectly on that machine. I didn't want to have to move my seam guide, and I'm sewing non-quilty Christmas gifts on the Bernina right now, so rather than have to rethread a machine or move a seam guide, I just got my Singer 99 out, it was far less buried than the Singer 301 that is also set up in the sewing room right now. My Singer 99 is in a cabinet, and it is my go-to machine when I'm making string blocks. I don't know why I enjoy making string blocks on that machine so much, but I do. Since it's typically set up for string piecing, it rarely has a seam guide set up on it, so I've sewn many a diagonal line on it too, when doing knocked off corners.

I'm anxious to have a nice pile of bonus HST's to add to my other project. I have some already from from a different project, and I have a chevron border for another quilt that will add to my pile yet again, and now these to add, so I'll end up with a nice stack of HST's for that bonus project.

To check out how others are doing on the mystery quilt, go here.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Bonus HST's from Carolina Christmas Revisited

A while back I trimmed up all the bonus HST's I had been saving for years, and now most of those are either in finished projects or ongoing ones. All the pink/neutral HST's I has leftover from my color version of Bonnie Hunter's Carolina Christmas mystery quilt ended up in this quilt top I finished this week.

I still need to get it quilted, but it already has an owner, I have a great-niece on the way, and the clock is ticking, she's due in February!
 I was working on clue one from the Grand Illusion mystery while I pieced this top together, and I'm finished the extra 80 HST's, and have about 20 or so blocks done. I had hopes of getting some Christmas sewing done this week, but ended up with a nasty stomach bug, and that just didn't happen. I am feeling mostly better now, but I have company this weekend, and I am also watching the twins full time again, so not much sewing time to be found. Maybe next week will work out better.
Holiday time is just crazy, isn't it? I love Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I am so happy to celebrate them, but some days it feels like I am trying to keep many plates spinning on the tops of very long poles. I have learned to cut myself some slack, and know at the beginning of the holidays, that whatever projects I'd like to do, may or may not actually be completed. Things happen, like unexpected guests, or everyone in the house being sick, or an event no one told you that you were expected to be at, and those things must be done too. I realized yesterday that we had double booked holiday engagements, and since they are 150 miles apart, doing both wasn't going to happen. I wanted to order one thing for Christmas for one of our sons, but by the time DH and I were actually in the same room at the same time, with time to look it up online, it had sold out. Yup, spinning plates, and falling plates, and starting more plates spinning, because yes, it's the holidays, and life is busy, and crazy...and fun! Try not to forget to have a little holiday fun while you are spinning your plates!

Monday, December 1, 2014

A Quilt of Another Color

It's Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt time again! I tried to figure it out, and unless I'm forgetting one, this is Bonnie's 10th mystery quilt on her blog. She's had a couple mysteries in magazines, but I've only done the ones on her blog, and I've missed some of those.

I have been seeing all the newer quilters, and the experienced quilters new to mysteries, posting on facebook, fretting about colors, can you change them, what if I don't like it, this is too hard, whatever... The thing is, Bonnie's mystery quilts are very Bonnie-ish, if you like her quilts, you'll like the mystery quilt, if you don't like her style, you may not. If you like her style, but don't like scrappy, choose one fabric per color and you'll be fine. Personally, I LOVE Bonnie's quilts, and scrappy is my preference for any quilt. One thing I don't love, is having a quilt that looks like everyone else's, so I usually change things up a bit.

I started following Bonnie's blog just after her first mystery quilt, Carolina Crossroads. I had never heard of a mystery quilt before, since I was a new quilter, and since I started following after it was done, I still didn't get it. When she started her next mystery, Orange Crush, I decided to just follow along, but not make a quilt. My stash was still small at that point, and I was still homeschooling my kids, so time was at a premium. By following along the first time, I figured out how everything worked, without any of the stresses of trying to keep up, choosing fabrics, etc...

When Bonnie started the Double Delight Mystery, I was ready to jump in with both feet. I mostly used her colors, and mine wasn't very scrappy since my stash was still small and money was tight. When the reveal happened, I wasn't sure I liked the on point setting, but wasn't sure if it was OK to change that. After much deliberation, I decided to straight set mine, add more borders, and make it my own. This is my only Bonnie Mystery quilt that is still unfinished. It's about half quilted, but stalled there, because this one is for my bed, and I keep putting other people's quilts first.

My Double Delight
I believe Bonnie's next mystery was Old Tobacco Road, which I didn't do because I was feeling guilty that I had never finished Double Delight. By the time Carolina Christmas came along, I had realized most quilter's have a few UFO's, so the fact Double Delight wasn't finished didn't deter me. I also needed a wedding quilt for a gift, so I let the bride choose the colors, and I did Carolina Christmas in a not-so-Christmas color scheme. I also added sashing and omitted the border.
My Carolina Christmas
Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll was next, and I needed another wedding gift, so I chose colors I thought reflected the bride, and went far off Bonnie's color choices again. I also added a couple extra borders to this one, to make it the size I wanted, and because I had the perfect border fabric in stash for this quilt.
My Roll, Roll Cotton Boll
Orca Bay was next, and I wanted something Autumn inspired, which is my personal favorite color palette. Again, I added extra borders, because I had enough of the black bear fabric I loved for the backing and borders.
I don't have any great photos of Orca Bay, because I sent it to a LAQ, and the quilting was atrocious! I had a directional backing (black bears), which she put on at a 90 degree angle to the top, even though I had labeled the top of both the front and back clearly. The eyelashes on the back were almost an inch long, and I could never make myself take out all the quilting to re-quilt it. I let the kids use it as a picnic blanket, and when DS the Elder needed a large quilt, I let him take it, and said he could use it until it fell apart, because I was too broken-hearted to fix it.
When Easy Street came along, I was game, and by then I had enough skills to quilt a big quilt on my DSM, no more LAQ for me! I had seen a quilt that I loved the color scheme on, and chose that for my color scheme on Easy Street, it was actually similar colors to what Bonnie chose, but my solid red background gives it a completely different look. I can't remember if Bonnie had borders or not, but if she did, they weren't the same as these.
Celtic Solstice was a no-go for me, we had two kids getting married within 14 weeks (one of which was smack in the middle of the mystery), and we ended up having almost ten weeks of remodeling in between the weddings.
This year I debated, but I really missed doing the mystery last year. When DD#1 asked me to make her a quilt next year, I decided to let her choose the colors, and I'd do Grand Illusion in her colors.
When step 1 came out, the first thing I did was check my cheat sheet, since DD#1and I changed the placement of colors as well as the colors themselves. Then, I went to my strip drawers and see if I had any pre-cut strips that I could use.
Lots of WOW prints, and a few of the cheddar and teal. Only one coral, but hey, it's a little more variety.
I've got some Christmas sewing to do, so my goal is to cut out each step as it comes out, and kit it up for later. I am making a few of each unit as I go too, so I can see how this color scheme is working.
So far so good! I haven't even pressed these, just finger pressed. Once my Christmas sewing is caught up, I can catch up on the mystery more quickly, since I'm kitting each step as I go along.
Thanks so much Bonnie for these mysteries. I love your designs, and I love it during the holidays, because it makes me carve out some me-time in the middle of all the craziness!
To see how everyone else is doing on step 1 of the Grand Illusion Mystery, click here.
PS. No need to tell me my blocks are wrong because the blues aren't kissing, they are correct for my colors and placement