Tuesday, January 31, 2012

2012 NEWFO Challenge Update

I have the button on my sidebar and you can read about the 2012 NEWFO Challenge at Cat Patches.  I really think I’m going to like this Challenge!  This is my status report for my January projects:

  • I had wanted to work with the Lil’ Twister tool and the first photo below is my first finished top that used the 5” size tool, and
  • I liked working with the smaller tool so much that I purchased the larger size (suitable for layer cakes).  The second photo below is the finished NEWFO for a baby due any day now (having a deadline works wonders), and
  • The Craftsy website with Amy Gibson is offering a free BOM video and many of them will be new-to-me techniques.  I am planning to make these up each month in the colors of my group’s block lottery.  January’s colors were blue and yellow.  The two free-form blocks that Craftsy put forth for January were a stretch for my abilities since I like structure so much and have trouble doing wonky, but I enjoyed working with them.  The third photo is of those two blocks that went out into the mail.

Top Done
Quilted and Finished
Blocks Done
I did not get around to working with the various-colored dots fabric that I had wanted to make up into the Alaska Homestead blocks, so I’ve moved it into February – you’ll see what I did instead below.

In addition to NEWFOs, I also had a modest goal to complete one UFO each month.  This UFO got done:
Quilt Finished
And this UFO got to the finished top stage:
Top Done
Another UFO got quilted on the frame but still needs more quilting in the borders and the binding put on.  It will be finished in February so I’ll show it then.  So all-in-all, January went pretty well for me!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

National Kazoo Day

In keeping with my policy to celebrate every little eccentric thing out there – here goes!
What in the world is a “Kazoo”?  Well, it’s either an amazingly versatile musical instrument or the most annoying torture device ever invented.  It is categorized within the class of instruments known as “mirlitons”.  Mirlitons are those instruments that have a vibrating membrane.
The kazoo is thought to have originated in Africa where they have mirlitons made from animal horns that are used in traditional ceremonies.  A legend exists that modern kazoos were invented by a former slave, Alabama Vest, in Macon, GA in the USA.  Vest had a clockmaker build a kazoo from his design and he introduced it at the 1852 Georgia State Fair.
The submarine shape (like mine above) was created in 1902 and was a popular instrument in many minstrel shows and jug bands in the early 1900s.

National Kazoo Day is the brainchild of the president of Kazoobie, Inc. that sells a million kazoos annually - can you believe it?  Fortunately, a great many of those kazoos are left to languish in drawers, closets and garages.  In my humble opinion, kazoos are meant to be played only in parades and should never be brought inside – LOL!

And back on the quilty front, I have finished the top with the safari animals.  I think I originally called it “Windows on the Serengeti”.  I had intended to have a fancier layout of the windows by putting them on point, but sometimes I tire of a particular project and just want to move on.  This is a good “boy” quilt just as it is, so it’s done!  It's not out-of-square, it just needs to be ironed.  I do that just before I quilt and not a minute sooner ...
I’ve also started another Lil’ Twister quilt using the larger template for a friend’s grandbaby soon to be born.  This is the start … there is a short deadline for this one!

So I’d better get off the computer and get to sewin’ …….

Monday, January 23, 2012

Happy Chinese New Year!

The beginning of the Chinese New Year depends on the date of the New Moon in Aquarius and can be anytime from Jan 21 to Feb 18th.  Today (Jan 23rd) begins the year of the Dragon … but did you know that there are actually 5 dragons?  Each Chinese year is named for an animal that rules that year and every animal of their zodiac has 5 elements associated with it.  This is the year of the Water Dragon – the others are Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal.  The Chinese Lunar Calendar is 2,640 years older than ours and has a 12 year cycle with a different animal for each year – therefore the Water Dragon has not appeared for 60 years.

Babies said to be born in this year of the Dragon are said to be imaginative, full of fun and energetic.  They are doers that make things happen, demanding perfection from themselves and others.  Famous people that were/are Dragons include: Joan of Arc, John Lennon, Sandra Bullock, Salvador Dali, Mr. Rogers and Robin Williams.

If you like to appliqué, there is a darling dragon quilt pattern for sale by Needlesongs called Little Dragons Everywhere:

Click on this link to purchase (I am not affiliated with Needlesongs - I just thought this was cute!):

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Quilts of Valor

In addition to taking beginner’s Yoga classes (that I have been liking a lot), I’ve added another new activity to my calendar.  The closest quilt shop to me (Crafty Threads) has graciously allowed a local Quilts of Valor group to meet in their large classroom and I decided to step out of my comfort zone and join.  It’s very hard for me to walk into a new situation, but I had decided to try to be a little more active in my local community and this seemed a good fit for my skills.

The mission of the Quilts of Valor Foundation is to cover all combat service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing quilts.  And I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to slot right into this local group.   One of the things that some members do during the monthly meetings is to make up kits of blocks that other quilters can pick up and sign out to take home to work on.  I posted about those [here] when I made a few in advance of going to the monthly get-together. 

So when I walked into the shop on meeting day (Friday), I brought back the last of my finished 4-patch blocks and they set me to work laying out a top to sew together.
This is the Fourth of July pattern offered by Bonnie Hunter free for personal and charitable use.  Thank you so much for your generosity, Bonnie!

This particular group has only been meeting for a short while and they have already completed 4 quilts to distribute.    One will be given out in early February to a recipient who was hit by an IED in Afghanistan two years ago.  He is currently undergoing rehabilitation here locally.  We have two major Veterans’ care centers in our area (the James A Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa and the Bay Pines VA Healthcare Center in St Petersburg) plus several outpatient clinics.

We also went to a nearby restaurant that we could walk to for lunch.  This is the look back at my lonely sewing machine where I was sewing together rows when we left for lunch.
And quilters being quilters, someone brought homemade cookie bars.  Oh, joy!  This group could be addictive … I’ll definitely be going back!

And as a small aside … remember I was having trouble with my thread breaking on the top I was trying to quilt on my frame?  Well, I bought this product that was recommended to resolve that issue.  It’s a liquid silicone to drop onto the thread and bobbin spools.  I’ll report back if it works for me.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

World Travelers

I am not a world traveler, but my quilts for children sure are!  I am learning a lot of geography by following the Rotoplast Blog that documents the medical missions teams that are dispersed worldwide to perform surgery on children born with cleft palates and/or cleft lips.  They often partner with other organizations that you might be familiar with - like Smile Train.

Since the map of the world has changed so much since I was in school, I had to look up the location of the mission in Nov-Dec 2011.  That was when Rotoplast sponsored a Smile Train mission to the Republic of Togo in West Africa.
US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, visited there just last week (Jan 2012) advising Togo President Faure Gnassingbe during her visit that the US would be a good partner to Togo as they strengthen their democracy.
It is very heartwarming to think that a group that I am in played a small part in creating good relations by sending our quilts to comfort their children during surgery.  This is a photo from the Rotoplast Blog of a stone outside of the hospital in the capital city of Lome that pretty much sums it up:
It is no small thing that which is done out of love.
The current mission to Lima, Peru is just about to wrap up and the next mission will be to Chittagong, Bangladesh.  I know where Bangladesh is, but again I’ll have to look up Chittagong and follow the blog and hope to catch a rare glimpse of one of my quilts.

I send my quilts through the Sunshine On-line Quilt Guild.  This is my most recent work in progress (I’m back to working on something I started in Oct 2011):

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Roadblock on the Frame

I’m so easily derailed.  I have the lovely Tam’s Patch block quilt top on the frame with all of its great novelty prints and I’m having trouble with the thread breaking.  Since it had so many colors in it, with a black background on the top, but a medium colored backing, I decided that I would try a variegated thread.  Good plan, right?!
I usually use Gutterman thread on the frame (that I buy on sale) and that has always worked well for me – a little linty, but I clean the bobbin case often.  So this time I put another brand on of variegated thread and made almost one whole pass across the quilt top.  I was thinking it was great and sewed so nicely that I just might recommend it to others.  I guess that woke the thread demons up!  The thread started breaking about every nine  inches.  I am so ticked.  Now I wouldn’t go so far as to name the exact cause yet, because there could be lots of reasons.
·         It could be old - I know I’ve had the thread for more than a year and never used it – although it has been stored out of the sun that is so fierce in FL
·         It could be the machine – I’ve rethreaded it twice
·         It could be the needle – I’ve change it
·         It could be the machine tension – never had to change it before (but who knows?)
·         It could be the surface tension of the fabric (why did the first pass go so smoothly?)
·         It could be my frustration level – Aha!  That’s why I’m letting it set for a few days to think about its sins – sort of a “thread timeout”.  Maybe that’ll help!

So meanwhile, I finished up putting the borders onto the Lil’ Twister top.  This just grew out of my trial run at using this dandy tool.  I wish I had found the cute outside border fabric before I made the twisters and I would have incorporated some there, but now I know.  It sort of looks like a medallion center.

The light blue surrounding the twisters has multi-colored numbers in it.  I really think I like making the twisters.  I might try the heart or wreath next – or maybe get the giant-size tool – I see Twisters in my future!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

2012 Goals and Progress

I’ve decided that I will strive for these three quilting goals for each month of 2012:
  • start (and finish!) one NEWFO [see button on sidebar]
  • finish one old UFO
  • create two new blocks from Craftsy’s BOM – use the appropriate colors for submission to my group’s block lottery
That seems like a manageable set of goals and right now I’m on track for January.  If I stick to the first two, I will have 12 children’s quilts for Wrap-a-Smile and 12 quilts for Wrap-Them-in-Love, the two groups that my Sunshine On-line Quilt Guild supports.

So what is my progress so far?  These are the four Craftsy BOMs for January that I worked up – the topic was Slashed Blocks (two designs):
They are in the mail already to my group's quilt block lottery.
And, this is my most recent finished UFO.

You know that some quilts just don’t appeal to you until they are quilted and then they look just fine.  That was the way it was with this scrappy quilt that used leftover Dora the Explorer fabric.  I think scrappy quilts look best when they use tons of small pieces and tons of different fabrics.  I much prefer “controlled scrappy” for larger size blocks and strips, but I tried not to be so particular with this top.  I wanted to have a bin of lights and darks and just pull strips and use them, so that’s what I did.  I wasn’t happy about the look, but I think it looks OK quilted with just fanciful swirls.  It was an interesting learning experience and used up some scraps, so it was worthwhile!

I also had an exercise goal for 2012 that I have already implemented.  I’m taking a class in Yoga.  This is me:
Credit: Free photos from acobox.com

Not!  I’ve NEVER been able to touch my toes, even when I was a stringy, 87 lb teenager – and splits are purely a laughing matter for me.  My goals in this beginner Yoga class are to learn correct breathing and posture and hopefully begin to develop some flexibility. We’ll see!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

National Hot Tea Month

Did you know that January is National Hot Tea month?!  Well, I’ve never been a coffee drinker but I just can’t do without my tea – hot, cold, lukewarm – caffeine, decaff, herbal – it’s all ok with me.  I once had a friend stay in our condo for a week when we were out of town and she told me afterwards that she had opened one of my kitchen drawers and found “all of the tea in the world”.  Not quite true, but these are a few of the varieties that I have on hand now:
I guess I do appreciate the many different varieties that are available!

And I even like reading about tea.  Have you ever read any of Laura Childs’ Tea Shop Mysteries?  These are light mysteries set in historic Charleston, SC.  The first in the series was titled “Death by Darjeeling” and featured Theodosia Browning, the owner of the Indigo Tea Shop, and her talented staff who blend teas, offer tea tastings and bake wonderful scones and other dishes in between investigating murders, mischief and mayhem.  This is the most recent of these "cozy mysteries with a twist" that I read – it was #12 in the series (and BTW, recipes of the delightful tea shop offerings are included in the books – yum!):
And I found the most darling BOM wallhanging that is starting this month.   I can't post the picture due to copyright, but click on the link the see the wallhanging that is being sponsored by Angie Padilla at:  http://ajpadilla.com/bom/asian-teapots

These blocks will only be free during the month they are issued, after that the past blocks will be available if you are a subscriber to Angie’s website and newsletter.  Since I love the many beautiful oriental prints that are in quilt shops now, I’ll be putting this BOM on my to-do list.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

National Bird Day

Why National Bird Day?
  • The beauty, songs, and flight of birds have long been sources of human inspiration.
  • Today, nearly 12 percent of the world's 9,800 bird species may face extinction within the next century, including nearly one-third of the world's 330 parrot species.
  • Birds are sentinel species whose plight serves as barometer of ecosystem health and alert system for detecting global environmental ills.
  • Many of the world's parrots and songbirds are threatened with extinction due to pressures from the illegal pet trade, disease, and habitat loss.
  • Public awareness and education about the physical and behavioral needs of birds can go far in improving the welfare of the millions of birds kept in captivity.
  • The survival and well-being of the world's birds depends upon public education and support for conservation.
This is the reason for National Bird Day.

Check out Beth's Blog at:  http://quilterb-bethsblog.blogspot.com/ to see her beautiful photos of wild birds and her very excellent quilts, also!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Catch a Falling Star

Quilters are crazy about stars – as evidenced by the many, many star block designs:  Hunter’s Star, Amish Star, Friend’s Star, Starry Path, Lucky Star, Army Star, Brasstown Star, Ohio Star, Eccentric Star, and I could go on and on ...

And sometimes Quilters are just plain crazy.  Last night was billed to be a great star-gazing night because it was the first meteor event of 2012 and was supposed to be excellent for viewing in my area of the US.  Since most meteor showers get their names from the locations of the constellations from which they appear to streak, last night’s event was known as the Quandrantids (after the constellation Quadrans Muralis – between the constellations of Bootes and Draco – shades of Harry Potter!). 

It’s odd to think that this constellation is no longer recognized by the astronomical community, but the name of the meteor shower lives on.  

So I dutifully set my clock to go outside (in the extremely frosty weather!) at 2:30 am.  I wrapped up in my faux snow leopard snuggy and lay on the walkway to our front door where the bushes blocked out the light from the streetlights out front.  And it wasn’t two minutes before I saw a shooting star!!  It was very clear and lasted a good 4-5 seconds before burning out … and it was eerily quiet.  What a hoot.  I was so excited.  The following is NOT my picture but does show a shooting star if you enlarge it - but then read on ...
Image by Tyson Hofsommer, Kansas City,
 during the 2002 Leonid Meteor Shower
And then I waited and waited for the spectacular event that was promised with lots and lots of meteor scraps burning up in front of my very eyes – and remember, it was quite literally freezing outside!  After about 12 minutes without seeing another shooter, I gave up and crawled back into my warm bed.  Oh well, I did get to see one, so I guess I’ll stop being greedy.

The next event will be on April 22 - the Lyrid meteor shower originates from the Comet Thatcher.  If it’s viewable in your area, go outside and see and be sure to make a wish (maybe that more fabric will come your way?)!!

Now for a  nostalgic look back at a quilt I made awhile ago - this is a baby quilt made for a friend in 2003.  Sorry about the picture quality (it is a picture of a picture) but it pre-dates my digital camera.  The design is from the book “Quilts for Katie Rose”, an excellent source for baby quilt designs, and is called "Stars and Pinwheels".

Enough star-gazing.  It's time to go upstairs and quilt!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Let's Talk Weather and WIP

Just check out this weather forecast and see why some of us in Florida are putting on every wool item that we own!  I even wore my earmuffs when I went for my walk this afternoon (I hate when my ears get cold – and it was only 46 out there!).
8 PM
9 PM
10 PM
11 PM
Wind: 4 NNW
Wind: 3 N
Wind: 3 N
Wind: 3 N

For my Celsius friends, 37° = about 3° Celsius, and 32° = 0 Celsius - and that's pretty cold! So, I’ll be staying in this evening and continuing with my Lil’ Twister.  It’s coming along nicely – especially because I remembered to put the border on before I started cutting – LOL!  This is my progress:
Starter Squares
Beginning to Cut
These will make up a scrappy border
Twisters in Progress

The light blue border has multi-colored numbers in it and I'm keeping an eye out for an outside border that will also be kid-friendly.

Monday, January 2, 2012

A Finished Top

This is my first finished top of 2012.  It has lots of novelty prints and it doesn't show up well, but the outside border has tiny multi-colored hearts on the black background:

It looks like a Disappearing 9-Patch, but it is actually made using a design from Marcia Hohn’s Quilter’s Cache website.  Her measurements made it easier to use small novelty scraps leftover from other projects.  Her block can be viewed at:

And I sewed up a few blocks from kits for a Quilts of Valor group that meets in a local quilt shop.  I hope to join in with this group this month.
Each stack in this photo has 4 blocks in it, for a total of 16 blocks.  Of course, these worked up quick as a whistle, but I didn’t want to take more kits until I find out more about how they are to be put together.  The directions in each kit referred to an "A" block (which these all were) and a "B" block that was similar to a snowball (but they had no kits of those).  It will be exciting to see what comes of these!

And today I’m starting on the first of my NEWFOs for 2012 (see my sidebar button) – it's the Lil’ Twister.  I’ll post about progress on that later!