Monday, November 29, 2010

Big Progress on a Small Quilt Top

First, I must make a note that those little bits of Double-Wedding Ring in the front left corner are the quilt on the bed underneath my log cabin quilt. I know that they look funny.

Other than that, I'm happy to report more progress on this quilt which I've been piecing since July! It all came to a standstill when I couldn't find my rotary cutter to square up the blocks and has had insane progress made on it since I bought my new favorite cutting tool and found the cutter again last week. Now all of the log cabins are pieced, many of them are attached to one another, and I'm ready to go find a batting and a backing.

This quilt is for the daybed that I've had since I was 10, which has the same quilt to go with it that it has had since even before the bed was given to me. It's really time for a new quilt! We're planning to pick the bed up in Oklahoma at Christmas. It will become a new "sofa" in my craft room / sun porch. With a new quilt. All of this being here to explain why there are odd cut-outs on the corners of the quilt -- it's for a daybed.

I certainly hope that it goes well with my new curtains. But I still haven't painted in the room so I can pick a paint to match both and bring it all together. Must get back to work (and back to cutting pieces for the mystery quilt which I will show here soon).

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Doings

Happy Thanksgiving!

Busy busy over here. But not with what I should be busy with on Thanksgiving.

I wanted to wear my sugarplum pullover for dinner today so I finished working in all the loose ends.

The first snow of the year is falling.

I'm so obsessed with my new cutting tool (and newly rediscovered rotary cutter) that I can't stop working on quilting.

And the first of Mildred Pearce's eggs to be used is being made into dinner rolls by the bread machine.

I hope you have a good one too!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Yet Another Collection

I'm dying to buy this book right now so, to deter myself from making such a large and unnecessary expenditure this close to holiday gift-giving time, I'm looking back at all of my other Blackbird pieces I've stitched over the past 7 years. Blackbird Designs are, by the way, my very favorite of cross-stitch companies and Barb and Alma are the nicest people (I was lucky enough, in about 2004 to get to travel to the cutest store in Mexico, MO for a rug-hooking class that they taught).

This is the inside of that needle book at the top of this post. An old, retired loose feathers pattern. I love how they mix little things like needle books and boxes in with the plain, flat cross-stitch pieces in their designs. They always have great instructions for finishing these little items and its fun to occasionally not just use the stitched pieces for framing or pillows.

My most recent framed cross-stitch project. A new addition to my miniature houses collection, from a Loose Feathers pattern. More miniature houses (with a box of pins for scale) below. I have done 3 of these houses so I guess that this is really becoming a Blackbird Miniature Houses Collection.

I don't remember offhand where the pattern on the left is from (if anyone is interested, email me and I'll dig it out of my old patterns to tell you what it is) and the one on the right is, if I remember correctly, a free download from their site from about 4 years ago. Maybe longer. Time flies.

This one can be found here. I have a series of cross-stitched pieces that I like to hang for each season/holiday. I think I have about 13 of them, mostly stitched between 2003 and 2005. Every place that I live, I find a nice prominent wall, put one nail right in the middle, and rotate out these pieces. I'm starting to want to put two nails in the wall and make a set of complimentary pieces. Yikes.

This one is my marriage sampler. It's from "A Fine Collection". They mentioned in the book how they'd originally stitched the initials of a group of their friends in among the leaves. I loved this idea and we had a tiny wedding so I put the initials of all of the attendees in among the leaves, with my and Patrick's names and the date at the bottom. We came to NYC on the train in December of 2003 after being married in November and I stitched most of this on that 3-day ride.

Also somewhere around here is another half-finished piece which I believe I'm planning to make into a pillow. But it's hiding. Probably with my rotary cutter and the bin pulls for the kitchen drawers. So I'll save it for a later post.

Maybe in the meantime I'll go stitch something else from the Fine Collection book since I've only made one thing from that whole book (and surely I don't need to buy another book until I've made better use of the one I already have!)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Stitching Away

I don't think I'm going to get a whole lot more done on these wonderful ornaments of Alicia's once I get started on this huge quilt but at least I've finished two (of six -- I think I was feeling quite ambitious) before getting distracted. And had a ton of fun doing them both!

Isn't this one cute, even with its waste canvas in? (Waste canvas is, by the way, magical! I'd never used it before and now I'm seeing cross-stitches all over everything in my house!)

After my cats' complete and utter (and undeterable) obsession with my polar bear, I decided that it was a bad idea (for me -- I don't think there is a single thing wrong with the patterns) to leave the bottom open, as instructed, and so I cut a little ellipse out of some leftover felt and made a faux-ribbed cuff to close the opening, while still leaving the bottom of the mitten "open" (the extra piece of felt made the bottom 3D, rather than just blanket stitching it all closed). Maybe this will keep it all in one piece after the cats find my hiding spot (on the wall) and play football with the mitten.

And, to close, a less dismally dark photo of my polar bear, complete with tiny scarf. He he!

Woo Hoo!

And we're off on the quilt. I'll see you all in a month, after I find my rotary cutter (MIA since the move last February. . .) and cut out 172 "sections". I don't think I've cut that many of a piece of fabric for any project, ever. This should be fun!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Get Rolling Cotton Boll

I'm feeling very impatient to get started on my Quiltville Mystery Quilt. I found this whole mystery quilt business through Jessica's blog and felt intrigued by the mysteriousness of it all. But then I saw the Double Delight quilt from a previous mystery and looked at the holes developing in my two current quilts (which are both commercially produced quilts and both getting to be quite old, as far as commercially produced quilts go) and couldn't resist. But now I've gathered all of my fabrics (most of which came from my stash -- I had no idea that I had so much fabric!) and put them in pretty little piles and I am itching to cut!

A lucky thing for me is that I happen to really really love the color combo for this particular mystery quilt (which is likely why I had so many of these colors in my stash -- if she'd thrown in a blue I'd probably have had more trouble). I don't, however, have 1-3/4 yards of any single fabric in my stash so I'll have to order the red she mentions. Darn. I love this one. So much that I'm having to restrain myself from buying a whole lot extra so that I can have it around for future projects.

This is going to be great fun!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Happy Friday

Just a couple of photos from the past few days. The weather has been really nice here which has led to a few fun walks (and pinecone gathering) and some lovely light in the house. Autumn has come back after a few weeks of winter! Proof in the mixed nut bin in the grocery store (there are some nuts for that squirrel under those pinecones).

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Persephone Grey

Progress has been made on the house! I'm not sure that I've had a major (positive) update like this to share since the hallway, all the way back in July. It's always tough to photograph our house, since all of the rooms are quite small, but I hope that I can do it justice. Our master bedroom, which was previously seafoam green, full of cracks and scuffs, and bedecked with frilly curtains, is now cleaned and patched and painted the color of grey of a persephone book cover (I just went to my paint guy, who is the best paint guy in the world, and asked him for a grey the same color that he'd made the primer for another room -- and it's lovely, don't you think?)

I realize now that that photo above may be a bit confusing -- that thing in the lower left corner, at the foot of the bed, is my cedar trunk -- it's just the exact color of the floor and so kind of makes it look like the floor overlaps the door somehow. The door up there on the right goes into the study and the other out into the second floor hallway.

Now for some before and after:

This is the "before" photo of the same corner as the photo of the chair at the top of the post. It was taken almost exactly a year ago, when we were just looking at the house.

This above little tiny pressed-flower artwork (which I love -- it's from my favorite antique store in my hometown) is hanging in the little space between the closet door and the wall with the windows which you can see in the "before" photo above, thus making these two photos a kind of set.

An immediate "before". The other before shot was taken just after purchase of the house back in January but this one is just from a few days ago. Those white smudges are patching of some of the cracks.

And the fourth corner (below). I don't have a good "before" photo to pair with this one so I'll just let it stand alone. This corner did have the biggest crack of all though -- it went all the way through to the hallway (the door to the hallway is just outside of the frame of the photo, to the right -- that's it reflecting in the mirror).

Monday, November 8, 2010

Power Outage

Every time there is a power outage here (which is really quite frequently -- we're up in the mountains), I am dismayed to notice, yet again, just how much of my day-to-day life requires electricity. Not even just batteries but plugged-in electricity. No cooking. No machine sewing. No knitting in front of the television. No blogging. No dish washing (the boiler is oil powered but is triggered by electricity). Really unbelievable. Surely I can think of something to do about this?

On the upside, last week these fantastic ornament kits from Alicia came and I'd not had time to get started on them, despite my huge excitement, due to all of the aforementioned "distractions".

Aren't they terribly cute, all packaged up?

I actually only stitched up the polar bear before the power came back on (they're used to the power-out drill up here, as I said) so the rest will have to wait for another day (including this guy's little blue scarf) but I had so much fun stitching him in front of our (smoky) fire, with a cat on either side. Hooray for an occasional power outage!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Great Steps in Quilting

This week I've had several quilting "breakthroughs". Which I suppose is really the fun in learning something new -- when I learn something new. When it's challenging. It's certainly tough sometimes though.

Everything's still a bit wonky but that's "handmade", right? At least that's what I like to tell myself.

To make those 3 little objects up there (the top one is a Dresden Plate doll quilt I made just because I wanted to try to make a Dresden Plate, and the bottom photo is of 2 potholders for PP5), I purchased and learned how to use a walking foot (how did I ever sew anything without one of these? It's the coolest thing ever!), really learned how to machine quilt in general (using this hugely helpful post), finally managed to make my square corners more pointy (reread Denyse Schmidt Quilts for info on that), and actually finished one of my own quilting projects (I'd finished quilting projects for swaps but not a single one of the projects I'd started for my house). Of course I still have tons of room for improvement but every little bit helps!