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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Looking ahead to 2013

This year was the year of the UFO for my quilt guild. I think that I'd like to expand upon that for next year. I still want to continue to work on UFOs and finish some more, but I want it to be a year of action. Action on some of the projects that I have had planned and even kitted for a while, but just haven't gotten around to starting yet.

For example, I purchased the kit for the Bali Wedding Star back in April 2010. I was SO excited about that quilt, but it got pushed aside for other things, and because it was going to require some real work before I actually got around to sewing it. Well, this weekend, while I was laid up with a cold, I got those papers out and cut every one of them and placed them into the bags they are going to be organized into while actually sewing them. I actually started sewing the first set of A-arcs Christmas morning. I still have the B-arcs for this set to do, but it's a start!

Also, this year I decided to make the Hop To It quilt - acquired loads of wool felts, 12 yummy colors of Valdani pearl cotton threads, and the book - and they have been sitting in a project box just waiting for some attention. Now that I have a little wool felt applique under my belt, I decided to go ahead and jump in and cut out the pieces for my first block. I fused them to the foundation fabric on Christmas Eve and actually began stitching them down!

I prepared Anniversary Stars (with Cinnamon Stars fabrics from Moda) for stitching by cutting all of the pieces just before our retreat last Spring, just in case I finished another project sooner than anticipated. Alas, I didn't get around to starting it, so it sat in another project box. I decided to go ahead and start it. I made the first star block.

I also started cutting fabrics for the Cotton Theory quilt that I bought the kits for (one for the back and one for the front) in ... 2007???? But that quilt, too, has sat untouched. I definitely want to work on this one - the colors are so lovely, and it will be a warm and cozy quilt for me when finished.

I plan to start, if not finish, Clifford's Bear Chase quilt this year - I have pulled the fabrics and they are sitting in another project box with the pattern (glad I saved that one after finishing Christopher's).

And of course, the recent starts - High Cotton and Rockin' Rail Fence should see some good progress also, if not be completed in 2013. I sewed another couple of Rockin' Rail Fence strip sets together, including 2 sets of the dark strips.

I recently added a few more hexagons to my Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt, another couple of rows and it will be halfway pieced. New picture to come when I finish this row (or the next).

I have lots of well-laid plans. And quite a few audiobooks queued up to listen as I sew. I also have some vacation days lined up in the first half of 2013. But I'm not going to wait until then. As you can see, I am committed (or maybe I should be) to making these plans become reality.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Reflecting on 2012

Although I managed to finish several things in 2012, quilting, cross stitch, and knitting combined, I feel this odd sense of discombobulation for this year. I think it is partly due to the work project taking over my life the last half of the year, and partly due to recovering from illness and surgeries.

The result is that I feel this overwhelming urge to stitch and quilt. Stitching and quilting soothe, calm, and relax me. Having been deprived of them for a fair length of time while I was working a lot of overtime seems to have put me into a 'catch-up' state. I need to catch up on my hobbies, and it may seem like I'm overcompensating when you see what I've been doing recently.

2012 was also a year of recovering from taking on the responsibilities of being a co-vice-president of our quilt guild in 2011. 2011 had been a whirlwind year of planning and prepping and directing our mystery quilt, and it really kind of zapped some of my quilting energy from 2012. But I've been feeling it return as the year comes to a close. I am very much looking forward to 2013.

Merry Christmas!!!

I'll do a little catch-up post later, just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

One more day

and then it's a 4-day weekend, hooray! I had a really nice time with Teresa this afternoon learning some excellent tips on die cutting and the Sizzix. I've made a list of a few new dies I want to order (upcoming projects!), purchased some silver Sharpies, and am so ready to start cutting some more fabric.

Tuesday night I was able to sew up a few blocks, and here are the results - first up, some new squares for my High Cotton quilt - these are a little brighter than the last batch, and I'm looking forward to doing some more.

I couldn't help myself - I stitched up 2 sets of light strips and cut them into blocks, and just arranged them to see how they are looking - mighty nice!

Just one more workday to get through, then it's playtime! Of course, we will do the usual visits (and meals) with family too. I haven't been working as much overtime, so it's nice to have a little energy when I get home from work and can actually do some little things here and there. More soon!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Dark strips cut

It took a while to organize these (longer than the light strips), and I'm still not 100% sure they are lightest-to-darkest, but I only needed that to be generally correct, not strictly, since I will be pulling 6 strips at a time to sew together.

Thinking I'll go cut a few more strips for my High Cotton quilt. I may even get to sew tonight.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A quiltiful weekend

I finished up Block C of Fall Frolic this weekend, and then I did three more of block M (but I still have to put the triangles on the corners). Here is Block C (click for larger). I am still loving the handwork and wool felt appliqué.

And I got all of my light strips cut for the Rockin' Rail Fence quilt. Looking forward to sewing these up soon!

I also cut some strips for my High Cotton quilt (with the Sizzix), but I didn't take any pictures there. I'm hoping to play with those next weekend during the Christmas holidays. We get Monday and Tuesday off for the holiday, so it will be a nice 4-day weekend.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Woohoo, it's the weekend!

And I have many reasons to celebrate.

#1 - no alarm in the morning
#2 - I finished-finished my Plums Pillow

I included a piece of the fabric so you can see what the border / back looks like.

#3 - no alarm in the morning
#4 - My new Sizzix die cutter came in the mail today

Here are my first strips cut with my first die purchase - 1½ inch strips - I will be using this die for both the High Cotton quilt and the Rockin' Rail Fence quilt, and after I spend some time with Teresa, I'll probably decide on one or two more dies to purchase soon - depending on what makes the most sense at this point.

I think that this will really help me with repetitive stress injuries to my shoulder - just cutting these few strips was easy-peasy and way cool. :)

#5 - no alarm in the morning
#6 - vacation days have been scheduled (and approved) for March and April and July

I'm planning on taking time off for our annual quilt guild retreat, some Bonnie Hunter classes at our guild (at least one, maybe two if I'm lucky), and I'm seriously hoping to go to the International Quilt Festival in Cincinnati this year. It's a lot of quilt-related things very close together, sure to get the quilt-y creative juices flowing, and help me get rid of the comp time I've been building up over the last couple of months.

#7 - no alarm in the morning
#8 - with the project deadline extended, the pressure is eased up a bit at work, and I'm able to breathe a little bit there - makes for a much happier and slightly less stressed Melissa, guaranteed and proven.

Tomorrow promises to be a busy day, but it should be a good one, and I should be able to sneak in a little time with my new Sizzix machine and some fabric. Happy weekend all!!!!

Monday, December 10, 2012


First, I want to thank you for sending me healing thoughts and best wishes - I know that this too shall pass.

Today I was able to finish up the pillowcases that I'll be giving as part of some Christmas gifts. Fortunately, none of the recipients read my blog so I can share them with you before I give them away.

These were all kits I picked up at my LQS back in the summer. I made the first one up, then got caught up in other projects, so I thought it was high time to finish them.

I got my next Fall Frolic block of the month kit in the mail today, and I'm looking forward to stitching it up. I'm planning vacation days for next year. I think I'd like to go to the International Quilt Festival in Cincinnati - I've never been to that one.

Oh, and after talking with a few quilting friends, I've decided to get a Sizzix die cutter. I've ordered it, and it should be here next week sometime. First thing I plan to use it for is cutting the strips for my Rockin' Rail Fence quilt. I will also use it for High Cotton, and from there, who knows. Just need to figure out which dies I want to get first. I'm planning to get together with Teresa for some tips and helpful hints soon. Can't wait!!

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Mixed emotions

Our go-live date on the work project has been postponed a few weeks. I have mixed emotions about it - on one hand, we would have been through with the launch at the end of this had we gone live on the original date. I am really ready for life to get back to normal. On the other hand, this gives us more time to work on system performance and migration with a little more breathing room for the users.

Meanwhile, it's become very obvious that the work / overtime schedule I've been keeping has taken a toll on me. Muscle spasms, inability to concentrate on one thing for more than a few minutes, and exhaustion are a few of the things I've noticed.

I stitch when I can, which isn't often, but I have made a little progress on the pumpkins pillow.

We also drove to The Quilter's Attic and picked up my last block of the month for this year. I finally got around to putting it together today. It seemed to take hours. But it is done, and I have some ideas percolating about how I want to put it together. I didn't buy the finishing kit because I wasn't thrilled with their layout.

I'm probably going to bed early - it's going to be a long several more weeks. Thank goodness we have Christmas Eve and Christmas Day holidays in there!

Saturday, December 01, 2012


Tonight I finally finished my Stepping Stones socks, hooray! I pulled them back out night before last and decided that I would try to finish them up before moving on to something else. I had already turned the heels on both socks, so it was just a matter of knitting the foot pattern, closing the toe and weaving in the ends. I did that just as we finished watching White Christmas tonight (one of our very few Christmas traditions).

I had lots of kitty help on these - Candy is helping me model them.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Making the most of a 4-day weekend

Yes, two posts in one day!

Here is my Block B and the first four of Block M (there will be 19 of those) - and I am caught up on two Block of the Month projects now.

Block B

Block M (4)

These were made using the method of placing a square in the corner of the block (with a line drawn diagonally) and stitching just to the far side of the line, pressing back into the corner, then cutting away the 2 extra pieces behind. Since I really hate throwing away fabric - and they looked like they would square up just right, I sewed up the leftover triangle pieces into little 1½ inch half-square triangles and pitched them into my box full of pieces and strips that size.

Thanksgiving holidays a nice respite

I have had a nice 4-day holiday weekend as a really nice respite from the work project that should be wrapped up in another 3 weeks, if things go as planned.

We have eaten too much, visited with family, gone to the movies, and played at home (CC with his new video game, me with a new quilt).

I have been itching to start the new wool felt block of the month project Fall Frolic, and finally got my chance this weekend.

Using the tracing paper that Teresa recommended I try, I traced my pattern for the first block, then I traced and cut out my fusible web (Shades Softfuse), ironed it to my wool felt pieces, and began placing and fusing them to the background.

Here is the block entirely fused and ready to work.

And not looking much different from a distance, here is the block appliquéd.

Closeups of sections, left, center, and right - a little dark because the pieces are fairly dark, but you can see the blanket stitch around them. I used the recommended Valdani perle cotton, a green/black variegated color (0540, I think).

This was October's block. Now I am working on November's block, trying to catch up, and because it's so fun to stitch. Of course, I have had to make a note to myself - for the next block to REMEMBER to REVERSE because I'm fusing the pieces. I did fine with Block A, but completely forgot to do that with Block B. Fortunately, Block B will look perfectly fine either way - but the point is, I don't want to forget to do this again with other blocks.

I hope that everyone has had as relaxing and enjoyable weekend as we have.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Presenting Pineapple Blossom


Tonight it will be going to its new owner, hopefully keeping her warm for years to come.

Last night I finished (at least I believe I finished) ripping out all of the puckered quilting stitches on CC's Sunshadow quilt, and tonight I pulled out my little frame to hand-quilt it to the finish. It will have a combination of machine and hand quilting, and we're both just fine with that.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Start of a new quilt

Yesterday I managed to make a few blocks in a new quilt, High Cotton by Kim Diehl. Here are a few blocks in my new quilt. I am making this entirely from stash, and I'm thinking this will eventually go to my Dad.

And I'll have to take a photo tomorrow when it is light. I finished binding Carolyn's Pineapple Blossom quilt tonight, hooray!!!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Around the World, part 6

As with everything else it seems, I am a little bit behind on the Around the World in 80 Stitches stitch-along, but I finally finished Part 6 this week (and Part 8 has just been released!). Here is this little part of the design.

And last night I managed to finish another block in the Blocks From the Past quilt, Cakestand

These blocks are 6.5 inches square. I can't remember how many are in the quilt, but I have 9 done now. :)

Today I am going to start a stash quilt. I have a whole list of my quilt projects, both started and not-yet-started, so I have a lot to look forward to in the next couple of years.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Happy dancing!

I was able to finally finish the binding on the 10th placemat last night, so they are now ready to head over to my mom and dad's, hooray!

And I finally put the label on Gerrick's Feathered Fantasy quilt this morning, so I can call it finished.

One more thing to share - I actually finished my November block of the month this month, Marbled Chocolate Bark. It's a slight variation on the block, because I didn't fully realize until I had it all put together that I substituted two light background triangles where there should have been dark brown ones. That's okay, I like it anyway.

Now I think I'm going to go rest a bit - I've been trying to organize and put stuff away in my sewing room, and that is quite a task. But I almost have all of my quilting projects back in their respective boxes, so I can actually see my ironing and cutting boards.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Kitty-tested, kitty approved

I attached the binding to the front of the Pineapple Blossom quilt today.

This afternoon I started hand sewing down the binding to the back of the quilt while watching a little football and racing. Then I got a really nice surprise - Roughy decided to join me. He isn't much of a lap cat, but he snuggled right in on top of the quilt, which was on top of me (backing side up).

Kitty-tested, kitty-approved.

Oh, and here is October's block of the month (Super Second Saturdays Sampler), Chocolate Turtle, finished yesterday.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

A stitch here, a stitch there...

And we finally have a finish!

A little slower than I had hoped for, but finished nonetheless.

Oh, and I've finished binding placemats 7 and 8 - just 2 more to go there. I'm going to try to work on my block of the month for October today, and perhaps make the binding for Carolyn's quilt (Pineapple Blossom), which I'm showing at my quilt guild on Tuesday.

Work continues to be crazy (and will be for at least another 6 weeks), but I do have Thanksgiving to look forward to, as well as my quilt guild meetings - and I'm trying not to work as much on the weekends because my mind needs a little time to recover from the intensity of the week.

And the positive in this - I've already built up nearly 3 weeks of comp time that I am REALLY looking forward to taking off after the first of the year!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Work's still crazy

So I don't have any fun crafty things to share. :(

But I can share a picture of Roughy on our new deck (thank you DAD!!!!).

And I can share a picture of my new baby - Kindle Paperwhite - which was delivered today, hooray!

Now to get some time to actually enjoy them both...

But I'm actually at a point in the work project where I'm helping my favorite customers, and I'm on-site there for 4 days a week until we get them migrated. Seeing old friends and making new ones helps the long hours I'm putting in on this project.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Quick update

Just a really quick update - I finished binding placemats 5 and 6, so two mini happy dances this week. That's about all I've had time to do with another 60+ hour workweek under my belt. Major training push is out of the way (we trained over 150 people over the last 2 weeks), so I'm hoping to be able to not work quite so much overtime this week, though I know that I'll still have to work some.

I'm still working on the Plums pillow - I have 3 more plums to stitch, and then it will be complete. Once I finish binding the placemats, I'll move on to binding the Pineapple Blossom quilt. And once I finish the Plums pillow? I might work on my Pumpkins pillow, or I might start block 1 of my new Fall Frolic quilt.

Oh, and when I went to pick up my SSS 2012 block of the month from The Quilter's Attic, I got a preview of next year's BOM project - I am definitely signing up for it. All of the blocks will be the same, but they will have different colors each month for a neat scrappy quilt. The four blocks that I saw were great color/fabric combinations. Another one to anticipate!

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Progress as of a few weeks ago

Before the overtime at work so rudely interrupted my home life a couple of weeks ago, I had made just a little more progress on my plums pillow. Here is what it looks like now - I'm still hoping for a finish by the end of the year.

And I finally took a new photo today of my Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt. Progress since the last time is just a little more than one additional row. Before photo on the left, after photo on the right.

Celebrating Happy Dance 4 of 10 placemats' binding finished today!

Friday, October 05, 2012

Promises of things to come

The last two weeks have been exhausting. Unfortunately, I was not able to ease back into a regular work schedule because of a project we have going with a hard deadline of mid-December. My first week back in the office I worked almost 60 hours entering information in the new system to get it ready for users and helping prepare the training for those users. This week was the first week of training for those users, with another full week of training to come next week. I worked over 60 hours this week. Each night I came home and barely had the energy to get dinner and then fall into bed.

Needless to say, the creative side has been nonexistant. Just before all the insanity, I was able to finish binding placemat 3 of 10, but there hasn't been progress on anything else since then.

A couple of things to brighten my week, though - I picked up the Pineapple Blossom quilt from Ruth Donnell, my quilter (her daughter, Pam Thorne, has also quilted many of my quilts), and I have a sneak peek to show you - I'm hoping to have the energy to bind it somewhere around the end of October. The quilting is absolutely beautiful. I asked her to choose a pattern and thread color that she thought would match the quilt, and what she chose was perfect!

About mid-week, I received my first promise of things to come - my new Kindle Paperwhite cover (Royal Purple - it's not really clear in the photo). I decided to go ahead and try it out. The non-backlight lighting looks intriguing! I should receive mine later this month.

And then yesterday, another package arrived in the mail - the first of my new block of the month, Fall Frolic! This is one I wrote about a few weeks ago, organized by Primitive Gatherings Quilt Shop, using wool felt. I am so excited to start this one! But it will be a few weeks before I can get there, with work being so demanding at the moment. I need a vacation! :)

I'm going to try to work on another placemat binding this weekend, if I don't fall asleep first. So glad it's Friday night!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Correcting quilting mistakes

When I stopped working on the quilting of CC's 2nd flannel plaid quilt earlier this year, I knew I was going to have to face an unpleasant task later. I apparently didn't pin baste well enough, because the backing shifted or stretched (or both), and I have a lot of pintucks that I need to rip out. A lot. I thought I had made pretty good headway in ripping out the quilting where the pintucks were tonight, but I discovered as I was folding it up for the evening that I have quite a bit more to do. I was using a walking foot when I quilted it, but even that didn't help me avoid the numerous mistakes. The front looks fine, but the back is a mess, so a lot of it has to come out.

At first, my husband suggested that I not worry about them, after all, it is just another utility quilt for him, another blankie similar to his first one. The problem with that is that he turns the front of the quilt -- the pretty flannel side -- towards himself, and so the backing is always visible, because he likes the softest side next to his skin. So I will continue to rip out the quilting in those areas until all of the pintucks are gone. It is slow going, because ripping out quilting is a lot more time consuming than ripping out seams from piecing. I have to be very careful not to rip the fabric as I slide the seam ripper under the quilting stitches.

Part of me wonders if I might have been finished by now if I had hand quilted it in the first place. I think I'm going to hand quilt the rest of it, once it is ready to requilt. That way I'll be able to avoid those nasty pintucks again, and he can finally have his new blankie sometime in the near future. I'll try to post a picture tomorrow.

Edited to add photo - this is just a small sampling, unfortunately. :( I have to rip all the quilting stitches to the edge to be able to fix them.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

April basket finally finished

Here is my basket by itself and in the frame, pieced, appliquéd and quilted.

Just 8 more to do - I don't think I'll be able to catch up by the end of the year, but at least I've made some progress.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

April basket appliqué

Here is the blanket stitch hand appliquéd section of my April basket block (click for a larger view). I really like how this turned out.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Another old quilt WIP sees progress

This is my Monthly Baskets Block of the Month project, April block in progress - I had cut out the fused pieces over a year ago, but that's as far as I got before I was off on something else.

Today I finally pulled out the pieces and some other fabrics and paper-pieced the basket bottom, and fused the pieces to the basket top. Now I need to appliqué them down, then piece them together, add the borders and quilt! I think I recall saying that this is the year of the UFO back in January, and I'm trying to put some meaning behind that. :)

I'm tempted to hand appliqué it, but I'm afraid of pulling the bias edges too much Any suggestions? Or should I just go ahead and machine appliqué it (less pulling, more guiding the stitches)?

Edited to add: I decided to go ahead and hand appliqué the pieces. I finished two eggs tonight and started on the bunny. The colors of floss I'm using are pretty low contrast to the pieces and the stitches are so close together that it almost looks like satin stitches. I really like the look, and can't wait to share another picture!