Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 year end totals

I'm still working to escape that weird limbo I fall into when I've been working like crazy to finish one project and suddenly it's done and a couple of days later I can't even remember what I was working on. Do you ever get that feeling, which is immediately followed by "How could I forget I was working on THAT?!"

Yesterday and this morning, I managed to put together one last baby quilt top for 2011. It's a nine-patch and snowball variation that I hadn't tried before and, although I tend to avoid borders whenever I can and this one was a bit of a hassle, I really think the quilt needs those little points around the edges.

This is going on my list of baby quilts I want to make bigger versions of.

I've had the year of the scrappy baby quilt, the year I made more quilts than I knew what do to with, and the year of knitting big flat things that didn't have to fit anyone. 2011 seems to have been my year of trying to keep my head above water.

I'd hoped to make more baby quilts than I made last year, but that didn't happen. My final total for 2011 was, I think, 26. Did I mention that my record keeping this year hasn't been the best?

The only two big quilts I finished this year were Cabbage Roses and the one I can't show you yet. <!- 30s barnraising>

Six or so UFOs got crossed of the list, mostly thanks to the Stashbusters UFO challenge. Nine more got added, bringing my current total up to 32. I can live with that. Counting the ones that got crossed off the list but not counted because they shouldn't have been there in the first place, I think I'm about even. But I like the new projects more than I like the ones I crossed off, so I'm actually ahead!

I made videos this year, and wrote patterns. And played with applique and pieced curves. I'm so ready to start sorting through my sewing room and corner and get started on some new projects. And dig out the UFOs to see where I left off and what I can get done next.

Weekly Stash Report -- 2011 Totals

Fabric Used this Week: 0 yards
Fabric Used year to Date: 88.25 yards
Added this Week: 0 yards
Added Year to Date: 1033.5 yards
Fabric Trashed This Year: 54 yards
Net Added for 2011: 891.25 yards

Yarn Used this Week: 0 yards
Yarn Used year to Date: 6640 yards
Yarn Added this Week: 0 yards
Yarn Added Year to Date: 14925 yards
Net Added for 2011: 8285 yards

So that means I added (roughly) 891 yards of fabric and 8285 yards of yarn to my stash this year. For more weekly stash reports, head over to Patchwork Times.

That big finish I haven't been able to show you yet? It's scheduled to appear on the Moda Bake Shop this Thursday and The Fat Quarter Shop is sponsoring a giveaway of enough fabric to make the whole quilt top -- so be sure to check back and enter!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

trying to stay out of trouble

I don't do New Years, not as a celebration anyway, so today is our first day back to normal after the holidays. And I'm already finding ways to get myself into trouble.

First, I went over to Cat Patches to see who else had posted NewFO lists, and I found this:

Remember how much fun we all had drooling over Infinite Variety? Looks like theres some more red and white yumminess headed our way. I am NOT going out to buy fabric today. I probably shouldn't buy fifteen yards of fabric for a project I haven't even seen. Do I have any Joann's coupons? (For next week, not today.)

I'm not going to the post office to see if the pattern for Jo's new project is here yet.

I'm not driving to town to look for this, either. I could buy it for my Kindle, but I'm not willing to spend the same price for an ebook that I'd spend for the paperback.

Did you know there's a series of bee mysteries? Our bees have settled down for the season, so except for occasionally wondering why the barn cat is sleeping on top of the hive and if that's going to hurt either the cat or the bugs, there hasn't been much bee-talk around here lately.

I haven't read any myself yet, but these books sound fun and the author, Deb Baker, is giving away a Kindle Touch or Nook Simple Touch to one of her readers.

What I am doing today is cleaning up the last of the Christmas wreckage and starting a new baby quilt...and downloading more free books to my Kindle.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011



I really love this idea -- picking a dozen new projects to start in the new year and actually starting them. There are soooo many quilts I want to make. I've got stacks of magazines bristling with bookmarks...and more saved on my computer from websites and blogs...and more that are just dancing around in my head... And I know I'm never going to start them all, let alone finish them all.

And it Does Not Matter. I don't have to make every quilt I've ever fallen in love with. Unless I've bought an expensive pattern and fabric that can't be used for anything else, I'm not committed.

My NewFOs for 2012

Spiral Log Cabin
Pineapple Quilt
Calendula Patterdrip's Cottage
applique ladies
Scrappy Kaleidoscope
Rob Peter to Pay Paul
big drab postage stamp quilt
lego quilt
wedged circles
big version of scrappy hearts
jack in the box
Kiss in the corner

These are just off the top of my head, so I'm sure I'll be modifying the list before long.

What quilts have you been wanting to start?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

The presents are open and I'll be spending the rest of the day wrestling toys out of their packaging. Whoever decided to replace some of those awful twisty wires with some kind of cord that you can actually cut with scissors -- thank you!

One boy is playing a new WII game, one is fiddling with a pirate sword and gun, and the other is carefully wrapping a new stuffed toy with rubber bands. Our oldest has vanished to her room.

And, between requests to open toys, I'm happily searching Amazon for free books to download to the three Kindles we just added to our household. Apparently the girl is doing the same thing, since a couple of confirmation emails just popped up on my screen.

For months now, I've been reading Bonnie's suggestions for free Kindle downloads and hoping to get one of my own, and downloading books to Kindle for PC just in case. I'm not going to admit just how many free books I've downloaded since I unwrapped my Fire last night. It's like adding patterns to my Ravelry queue -- it doesn't matter if I read them all or not. And I'm having fun browsing and finding all sorts of weird old stuff that sparks my interest.

Weekly Stash Report

Judy says this is our last stash report of the year, but I'm not quite sure how that works. The next six days are still part of 2011, and I definitely plan on restarting my totals January 1!

Next year almost has to be better than this year as far as fabric in/out. Not that I plan on completely giving up the thrift store search.

Fabric Used this Week: 6 yards
Fabric Used year to Date: 88.25 yards
Added this Week: 9 yards
Added Year to Date: 1033 1/2 yards
Net Added for 2011: 945.25 yards

Yarn Used this Week: 0 yards
Yarn Used year to Date: 6640 yards
Yarn Added this Week: 400 yards
Yarn Added Year to Date: 14925 yards
Net Added for 2011: 8285 yards

I'm totally wiped out from Christmas and the big project I can't show you, so it may be a couple more days before I'm totally back up to speed.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I guess it's three days now...

The countdown to Christmas is starting to feel like a loudly ticking clock...or maybe a hissing, rapidly burning fuse. Have I mentioned that I'm not nearly ready yet? Whatever doesn't get done today or tomorrow just isn't going to get done.

The randomly chosen winner of my Blog Hop Giveaway is @pril. Congratulations! The rulers are on their way. And I'll be having another fun giveaway in January to celebrate my 1000th blog post, so stay tuned for a chance to win some of my absolute favorite quilting books.

As I'm scrambling around trying to get things done in time for Christmas, I've been thinking about what I want to work on after the holidays are over and I've got time to breathe again.

I'm definitely going to participate in the NewFO Challenge over at Cat Patches. There are quilts that have been on my to-do list for ages, that I desperately want to make but I never start because there's always something else waiting in the wings. I've still got plenty of UFOs from prior years, and a few more I added this year, but I could use some NewFOs to go with them.

And Jo's having a Quilt Square Along. I just ordered my pattern, along with Dr. Frankenstein's Monster Wall Banner pattern. I saw that quilt somewhere a couple of years ago and never knew where the pattern came from.

What are you anxious to get started on?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

five days left...or is it four?

All I know for sure is that I've got a lot to get done and I'm not sure when exactly I'm going to do any of it.

The quilt I can't show you yet is almost done. I rarely play with solids, so this one has been a lot of fun.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

eight days left?!?!

Look at this post of antique mall eye candy over at Quiltville. I'm loving those Christmas stockings, even though the whole idea of cutter quilts makes me a little sad. As a last hope for quilts that only have a couple of good bits left, maybe...but I have this sad feeling that some people cutting up old quilts to make things to sell might be using quilts that still have some life in them. They do own the quilts and they can do what they want to with them...and it really is better than giving up on them entirely and tossing them in the dumpster. I'm going to keep having mixed feelings about this one.

So because I don't like the idea of cutter quilts, I'm thinking of making some little quilted sections to make stockings of my own. I think I might want to make every antique quilt Bonnie has ever posted pictures of. Someone please tell me not to even think about that too hard until long after Christmas. I just looked at the calendar and did the math and realized that I'm in serious trouble here!

Weekly Stash Report

No fabric to report as used this week, but I've been working on one big project all week. That Jelly Roll I showed you on Monday is now a finished quilt top.

Fabric Used this Week: 0 yards
Fabric Used year to Date: 82.25 yards
Added this Week: 1 yards
Added Year to Date: 1024 1/2 yards
Net Added for 2011: 942.25 yards

Yarn Used this Week: 0 yards
Yarn Used year to Date: 6640 yards
Yarn Added this Week: 0 yards
Yarn Added Year to Date: 14525 yards
Net Added for 2011: 7885 yards

Saturday, December 17, 2011

a whole bolt of batting

For a long time, I've wanted to buy a roll of batting. Specifically, I've wanted to buy a bolt of Warm & Natural cotton batting, my favorite stuff.

I'd been given a bolt of thick polyester batting by a quilter who didn't want to use it and, once I figured out that I could separate it into two thinner layers, I used every last bit of it in the baby quilts.

When you're making little baby quilts, a bolt of batting lasts a long time! I got so used to having batting there in the closet that it was almost a bit of a shock once it was finally all used up. I buy packaged batting when it's on sale, but I go through it as fast as I get it home.

Think the bolt of Warm & Natural that came in the mail a couple of weeks ago will last me a while?

Wrestling it out of the van, though the house, and into the closet just about did me in. That big box of cotton is heavy. Not to mention awkward. I was dreading pulling it back out of the closet tonight to cut off enough for the quilt I've been working on this week.

Out of the box, it's a lot easier to handle. And once I'd cut off enough for the new quilt and my Bento Box, it went back into the box again. I was a bit worried that it wouldn't.

I've got fabric, I've got thread, I've got batting (hooray for Black Friday sales and ordering online)....I'm a happy quilter!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Strawberry Stars tutorial

I was waiting to start this project until I saved up for some new Acuquilt dies, but Orca Bay changed my mind. These specialty rulers were just what I needed to cut my triangles!

Want to make your own? You'll need red and green scraps and the Companion Angle and Easy Angle rulers.

Quilt Size - 24" x 32"
Block Size - 6"

Fabric Requirements:

12 red prints - one 2" x 18" strip and one 3 1/2" square of each (you can piece together two 2" x 3 1/2" rectangles to make the square if you're working from strips)

12 green prints - one 2" x 15" strip of each

background fabric - 1 yard

binding - 1/4 yard

backing - 3/4 yard

Cutting Instructions:

For each block, you'll be cutting eight green half square triangles, four red half square triangles, four red center triangles, and four background half square triangles (not pictured).

To cut the green triangles, fold one of your green strips in half. Use the Easy Angle ruler - the bottom edge of the black triangle goes along one edge of the fabric and the 2" line goes along the other. Cut four pairs of triangles.

To cut the red triangles without wasting any fabric, fold one red strip in half. Use the Easy Angle to make the first cut, then the Companion Angle (line the edge of the fabric up with the 2" line) to cut two pairs of center triangles, then the Easy Angle again to make the last cut.


For each strawberry, you'll be constructing four flying geese units. Sew one green triangle along the side of a center red triangle. Press open. Sew a second green triangle along the opposite side and press open.

Don't have the rulers I used? There are several techniques for making flying geese here.

Sew one background half square triangle to each of the red half square triangles to make the corner sections.

Assemble the block as shown.

I put together my quilt with 2" sashing.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

another kind of hole in the barn door

This (try to ignore the fact that it might be the dustiest piece of cross stitch in existence) is why I quilt...

I don't even pretend to understand how I went from cross-stitching quilts to quiting quilts, let alone how knitting crept into the mix, but that's what happened. It's been years since I did any cross-stitching, not since before the move. All of my patterns and fabric are packed away behind everything else in the sewing room.

Take a look at these quilts and wheelchair totes that the members of World of Charity Stitching have been making. Aren't those just the best justification for every single cute pattern you've wanted to stitch?

I'm forcing myself to wait until after Christmas to go up and dig my supplies out. The floss is on the shelf under the window, but I won't get much done with just that!

Monday, December 12, 2011

design wall monday

My big Orca Bay triumph for the week is that I know where all of the fabric for the project is. Probably. I know where enough to actually make the project is, but I won't be surprised if I find and throw in more reds and blues along the way.

I'm not done with any of the clues, but I've done at least a few pieces of the first three and I'm going to get to those red strips just as soon as I'm done with this:

UPS said it would be delivered by the end of the day tomorrow, so it was a happy (if a bit frightening) surprise to check my email this morning and read that it had already been left outside on my porch steps. I got to it before the local mail thieves, so I've got an extra day to work on my project.

I've also got two turorials to write and a tree stand to find and presents to buy and many more days 'til Christmas?

To see more design walls, click over to Patchwork Times. For more Orca Bay updates, head over to Quiltville. And don't forget the Blog Hop Party and the rulers I'm giving away!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

keeping track of the fabric

This has been my first year of keeping track of my fabric acquisitions. Not purchases, because at least half was given to me. And most of what I did purchase was dirt cheap. I think I've spent an average of fifty cents a yard this year, and that was on the nicer stuff. I bought very little new yardage.

Next year, I'm going to follow Jo's example and separate my fabric into categories -- new fabric purchases, old fabric purchases, and fabric that was given to me.

Weekly Stash Report

Fabric Used this Week: 1.25 yards
Fabric Used year to Date: 82.25 yards
Added this Week: 3 yards
Added Year to Date: 1023 1/2 yards
Net Added for 2011: 941.25 yards

Yarn Used this Week: 0 yards
Yarn Used year to Date: 6640 yards
Yarn Added this Week: 0 yards
Yarn Added Year to Date: 14525 yards
Net Added for 2011: 7885 yards

And then there's this:

When I add up the fabric that I've used for the week, I only count what's actually in the finished quilt, not the little leftover bits that are too small to be strings or crumbs. I've been tossing those bits into a bag when I cut scraps, intending to weigh them and add that total to my yardage used at the end of the year. I don't feel quite right counting it as "fabric used"....but it's not thrown away, either.

So I've got twenty-four yards of trimmings, and 30 yards of fabric that I donated back to Goodwill because it was still useful, just not for quilts.

And then there's the yarn -- most of the unused yarn for this year came in one box I bought at an estate sale for four bucks. Do I really have to count that as yarn I bought but didn't use? I don't want to toss it, because it's decent stuff and I've got kids making craft projects. But if it gets used for whatever they're tying up, it doesn't get counted toward my totals....and I threw away a whole bunch of tangled stuff last week without even thinking of counting it.

Have I mentioned that my record keeping isn't 100% accurate? But it does confirm that I brought home much more fabric than I used this year.

To see more weekly stash reports, click over to Patchwork Times. And don't forget the Blog Hop Party and the rulers I'm giving away!

Friday, December 09, 2011

finish it up Friday - Strawberry Stars

Some of my favorite red and green scraps found their way into this little wall quilt. I started playing with the idea for this block back in July, drawing it out with pencils and graph paper. I started the blocks on Monday, because I wanted to see if that Companion Angle would do what I thought it would. And now I'm working on a tutorial for the little quilt. Check back for it later this week.

Strawberry Stars Tutorial

If you want a chance to win a Companion Angle and Easy Angle, leave a comment on this post before midnight on the 18th.

And to see lots more great finishes, head over to Finish it up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts.

my new favorite toy - and I'm giving one away!

Blog Hop Party with Give-Aways

Quilting Gallery is celebrating its fourth birthday with a blog hop of quilty giveaways, which sounded way too much fun to miss out on.

If you haven't been by my blog before, I'm Michelle. I'm a stay at home mom to four kids and when I'm not homeschooling or running around with my family, I'm usually making scrap quilts. Sometimes knitting, but quilting is my main obsession these days. I love traditional quilts and the more different fabrics I can fit into one project the happier I am.

I've only been quilting a few years, but I'm fortunate to have a fantastic fabric stash thanks to my grandmother who, until recently, owned an antique mall. While she was looking for furniture and vintage treasures to resell, she was also keeping her eye open for fabric for me. Now that the antique mall has a new owner, she still hasn't stopped looking for furniture or fabric. I sew with whatever I can get my hands on and have an absolute blast doing it.

Now for my giveaway -- I'm giving away a Companion Angle ruler and an Easy Angle ruler.

I've had an Easy Angle of my own for a while, but never took it out of the packaging until the Orca Bay quilt along started. In the past two and a half weeks, I've used them to make hourglass units, and half square triangles for Orca Bay, and flying geese units for my own Strawberry Stars quilt.

I can't tell you how excited I am about these rulers! My biggest problem with triangles has always been that pesky 7/8" measurement. I can handle the bias edges, but it's that measuring that I go out of my way to avoid. With these rulers, I can cut triangles from the same strips I'm already using for squares. They're going to be great for projects where I only need a few triangles of each color.

To enter, just be a follower of my blog and leave a comment on this post before midnight, December 18. I'll draw a winner and send them off. Please make sure that you're not a no-reply blogger so I have a way to contact you if you are the winner.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

meet Evil Santa

This guy used to scare me every year when Grandma put him out for Christmas, in the same way that Red Riding Hood and the wolf hiding behind her grandma's bonnet did. They scared me, but I loved them just the same.

For as long as I've known him, he's had that blue spot on his hand and I've been wondering where it came from. His belt is around here somewhere - it fell off earlier this week when my youngest was dragging him around the house in a bear hug.

I think I've seen one of his twins lurking in every antique store I've ever been to. He doesn't scare me anymore -- although I do wonder who decided to give Santa that particular face. What about those features says "Merry Christmas?"

Grandma decided to get rid of him a few years back and of course that meant he had to come live at my house. My kids, most likely inspired by Invader Zim's Santa Song of Doom, have named him Evil Santa.

And of course they've never been even the slightest bit afraid of him.

This post is linked to Time Travel Thursday, Treasure Hunt Thursday, and Vintage Thingies Thursday

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

they're strawberries!

It's not a Christmas quilt. Just forget that it's December and try not to make assumptions about the red and green. I got the idea for Strawberry Stars last summer but didn't start the quilt until this week.

What finally motivated me? The Easy Angle and Companion Angle. I'd been waiting until I got the 1" finished half square triangle die for my Go! Cutter, but after playing with my rulers for Orca Bay I decided to just go for it.

I chickened out a bit and I'm making slightly larger triangles than my original plan -- these are 1 1/2" finished -- which means I'll wind up with the same finished dimensions as my Grecian Squares quilt. Appropriate, since it was the Grecian Square quilt that inspired this one.

To see more design walls, head over to Patchwork Times.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Orca Bay - Clue 3

While I was working on the first Orca Bay clue, I cut extra 2" strips of my black and neutral fabric to use in another project. That gave me a desperately needed jump start on the third clue.

It's the first time I've used my Easy Angle ruler and I'm loving this thing. My biggest problem with triangles has always been that pesky 7/8" measurement. I can handle the bias edges and I don't love the dog ears, but it's that measuring that I go out of my way to avoid. With this ruler, I could cut triangles from the same strips I was already using for squares. It's going to be great for projects where I only need a couple of triangles.

Need your own Easy Angle and Companion Angle rulers? Come back Friday -- I'll be giving away a brand new pair of them as part of the Quilter's Blog Hop Party! And be sure to visit Bonnie's Linky Party for this week.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Weekly Stash Report

Not a lot to report this week...

Fabric Used this Week: .75 yards
Fabric Used year to Date: 81 yards
Added this Week: .5 yards
Added Year to Date: 1020 1/2 yards
Net Added for 2011: 939.5 yards

Yarn Used this Week: 0 yards
Yarn Used year to Date: 6640 yards
Yarn Added this Week: 450 yards
Yarn Added Year to Date: 14525 yards
Net Added for 2011: 7885 yards

Friday, December 02, 2011

Chickens at the Crossroads

This red fabric was supposed to be chickens. I bought it to make a chicken quilt. And then I found something else I wanted to try, decided that I wanted to make it in red and yellow, and didn't realize until too late that I was using my chicken fabric.

So I totally embraced the chicken thing and bought a chicken novelty print for the backing. And then it sat for five years because I wanted to quilt it with chickens and didn't know how to quilt at all. Now I can quilt, but I still don't know how to do chickens -- which I'm sure has a lot to do with the fact that I've never actually tried to quilt a chicken.

I pulled out the top a couple of weeks ago, dug out the backing fabric from the drawer it's been in since I bought it five years ago, and thought about trying something feathery.

And then the urge to get it done and cross another UFO off my list before the end of the year was stronger than the urge to wait until I could figure out feathers and I just meandered it.

There seems to be a pattern developing here, one I'm not sure that I like. Last week's finish was supposed to be a bed size quilt, but I made it into a small throw with the blocks that I already had finished. Not because I didn't want to make a big version of that quilt, but because I convinced myself I'd never get around to doing it with those blocks.

Enough people are out there saying - to me and everyone else - that we're never going to do things. I don't need to start doing it to myself.

This post is linked to Finish it up Friday over at Crazy Mom Quilts and Confessions of a Fabric Addict.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

not the way she planned it

We want our projects to turn out well. We're upset when something goes wrong -- a color bleeds, a line isn't quite right, a yarn over in the wrong spot distracts from the otherwise perfect lace pattern. But I think too many of us are ready to completely give up on a project when it doesn't turn out as planned.

My father's mother, not the one who finds me all of the wonderful bags of scraps at the thrift store...made this honey jar. She didn't date it, but I'm guessing it was 1979 or not long after, when she'd just taken up ceramics and was spreading the bug to the rest of the family. She was brand new at ceramics, otherwise I probably wouldn't have it today. Because it would have come out the way she intended it to.

The colors were applied in a layer of under glaze, then the piece was fired, then it was glazed and fired again. In the heat of the kiln, the powdery glaze melts into a permanent, glassy layer. Pieces with glazed bottoms are set on little metal stilts to keep them from sticking to the kiln shelves. Lids are fired separately from their bases.

Or that's how it's supposed to be done. The lid of my little honey jar is permanently attatched because that's the way it was when she fired it.

I remember standing in Grandma's kitchen a few days after it happened. I can't remember the story word for word, but I can remember how much work she'd put into this little piece and how disappointed she was. And I can remember exactly where the little ceramic house with the thatched roof was sitting on her kitchen counter. It stayed there until she died many years later.

Now it sits on the window sill in my kitchen. If it had turned out the way Grandma planned, it wouldn't have the story, or the memories. It might've gone to Goodwill or the estate sales. Instead, it is mine and my kids know its story. Maybe they'll save it themselves. Or maybe they'll save a quilt that's had scissor damage repairs or light stains where there were pennies duct taped to the back.

Or something else entirely.

This post is linked to Time Travel Thursday, Treasure Hunt Thursday, and Vintage Thingies Thursday


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