Friday, January 22, 2021
Tuesday, January 12, 2021
What I had planned to do all this month is try to clean up or move forward projects started last year. High on that list was finishing up the top I had been focusing on before last year's quarantine hit which is Bonnie Hunter's "Old Tobacco Road" mystery from 2008.
I had gotten as far as finishing the center of it as Bonnie's 2019 "Frolic" mystery was also finishing up. I had worked on this old mystery as others were tackling the new one. When I saw on Friday that Bonnie's post for her 2020 mystery "Grassy Creek" was for its reveal (and which means the annual mystery quilt season is now over), it seemed like the perfect time for me to head back down the "Tobacco Road"! On the downside, this is yet another hazard of COVID-Time since I can't believe the mystery period is already over! Where DID the time go?!?!?!
I had stopped work on it in February because I needed to decide whether to just add a plain border to the center for a quick finish or to continue on and add the Flying Geese borders Bonnie used in the pattern. I had already made all the Flying Geese blocks and since that was one of the things I really liked about the original design, I admit I was leaning towards that. However, at that moment I had to break work on it to prepare to teach an English Paper Piecing class (my first!) that I was hired to do and then had to work on the top for a quilt with blocks decorated by a Girl Scout Troop. Not long after that the pandemic went into overdrive and I was further diverted by quarantine, quarantine quilting projects, other project interests and traveling in December.
But now, it's back!! This is where I am today:
So now I am at another decision point. I had planned from the beginning to use the Olive fabric used in that (narrow) inner border for an outer border option. The debate now is whether I want to:
A. Just bind the top as it is now, preferably also with the Olive fabric.
B. Add an additional outer border as Bonnie did in her design, also possibly in the same Olive fabric.
C. Add an additional border but in another fabric, possibly a subtle print the way Bonnie did with hers.
It should be noted that I don't have enough of that Olive fabric left for either of the first two options. Additionally, I had won that fabric in a de-stash giveaway many years ago. The good news is that the name of the fabric line ("Shadowplay" by Maywood) was on the selvedge and it appears that it is still available in a number of places.
Of course the challenge is getting just the right shade of that green -- the original line had two Olive's, a light and a medium. Some listings say light or medium, some don't and of course you can't necessarily trust the color as it appears on your screen. To complicate matters more, for option C, I found another Maywood print called "Chrysanthemum" that also comes in Olive and I am considering getting that too.
So I am stuck for the moment in a decision mode which means this top won't get fully finished until the end of the month or early next month and I can live with that. The other good news is I have a remnant of a Thimbleberries wide back print and a lot of leftover bricks and Flying Geese blocks which all look like they can be the start of the backing for this. So I am calling this one officially "Moved Forward"!
Regarding the "Grassy Creek" Mystery: I was surprised by the look of the reveal quilt. The greens and golds in the color scheme didn't show up in it as much as I thought they would. However, that's good because if Bonnie's designs are one thing, they are flexible! Since I like her color choices, I now see where I might do the fabric pull a little differently to achieve the look I thought it would have. However, I don't even have "clue the first" of when that might happen since I still have a huge commitment to fulfill in finishing the other mystery tops and designs I already have in progress. But a girl can dream can't she!
Thursday, January 7, 2021
Saturday, January 2, 2021
Happy New Years! And a big 'ole smooch to 2021!!
When I checked in again with my MIL yesterday, she was feeling a lot better but was still not up to sewing just yet. Today was not as a good a day so it looks like we are going to have to take this one day at a time. We had made tentative plans on Friday to Skype on Sunday afternoon but at this point, I really don't know if we'll keep that date. To keep myself from worrying, I'm trying to keep a few projects in focus as it seems that these first few days of the year aren't going to pass through any more smoothly than 2020 went out.
I'm still tying to map out the rest of the year, but I do know that all this month I want to focus on finishing up or moving forward things from last year. Ironically, what I worked on yesterday and finished up today is that and a throw back to the first finish of last year! Last year I started things off with a little quilted tote for a micro-mini portable iron.
However I also kept a mini Steamfast iron on my sewing table and had planned last year to make another larger tote for carrying it if I wanted to take it for travel or classes.
|Stock Photo from Steamfast.com|
I'd had my iron since 2015 and loved using it while piecing the block units of pretty much every project. However, in the last year or so, the base of it had been getting hot to the touch when it was used for an extended period. Well, last week I turned it on and I heard a "pop" and the little light that indicates it is on went out and the iron stopped heating. Fortunately that was not a big problem since a while back, I had watched one of Vanessa the Crafty Gemini's videos and she recommended the Sunbeam as a cheaper alternative to the Steamfast. One thing she noted was that a selling point for the Sunbeam mini iron is its structure. It has the water well sitting under the handle which means your hands are not close to the heated elements of the iron. I did like that but saw no reason to give up my old Steamfast -- that is up to now! With it burnt out, it was time for a new one. So along with a new mini iron, it was a good time to also make that larger carrier too!
|Provides a generous 18" x 24" pressing surface.|
It is also large enough to hold a full size iron too.
And I have to say it was a quickie! My own construction tip is that rather than drafting the pattern onto paper, I used the pattern's instructions and just measured and drew the quilting lines with my Chacoliner right onto the ironing board fabric. I started on it late and was a little distracted by frequently stopping to comment, reminisce and laugh with DH about the annual New Year's Day "Odd Couple" marathon that was playing in the background!
|Still hilarious 50 years later!|
So I got all the way up to sewing down the last seam of the binding before having to call it quits for the day. So today that and attaching the button closures was all that needed to be done to wrap it up.
Funny, I had not made my Blue and White Christmas decorating plans at the time I purchased the fabric for this but I am just loving that it not only coordinates with the new Sunbeam but it falls right into line with all the blue and white projects I made in 2020 and still have to finish up!
So if I do get to Skype with my MIL tomorrow, we may get to talk about our plans to try to participate in this year's Rainbow Scrap Challenge to give her a chance to dive into her newly organized bins. Until then, I will spend some more time planning the projects for this year. Do I want to try to do a UFO Finish challenge? I should, lord knows I've got enough of 'em!! We'll see what the first week of the New Year brings!
Thursday, December 31, 2020
Be forewarned: This is a long one, text heavy and a little sad, although there is a some quilty news in the middle.
You know what they say about the best laid plans? The plan for Day 4 was the doctor's appointment that had been rescheduled to the morning and some grocery shopping on the way home. Both were accomplished and once back home the agenda was a break for lunch and a check of email and then back to the sewing.
However while I was checking email I got a text from my MIL. She was feeling very lonely since I had left two weeks ago. The reason I had taken the chance of traveling all the way to North Carolina where she lives despite the pandemic fears regarding holiday travel was that early in November her husband had passed after a three year battle with cancer (brain and prostate) and a stroke. It was a second marriage for them both and they had been happily married for 24 years.
After multiple surgeries, he had been released from a rehab center during the visit to her that I, my husband and oldest son made back in October of 2019. The rehab agency had consigned her husband just to home hospice care. My MIL had fought to continue with the occupational and physical therapy he had received while convalescing at the center. Because of her efforts, rather than just being bed ridden, he had been able to continue to enjoy limited movement around their house in a wheel chair at least partially under is own steam as she, a former senior care nurse, tended to his daily needs. In her words, had she left him to just languish in the bed or put him in a nursing home, he probably would have passed away from depression before last year ended.
However, along with the other tragedies of 2020, by late summer he began to slowly lose the ability for independent movement. My husband, I and our youngest son made plans to drive down for a return visit during my husband's last vacation for 2020, the week before Halloween. However, a few days before our planned departure, we learned that at that time, here in New York, there was still a very strict 14 day quarantine requirement for people returning from travel out of state. Neither my husband nor my son could do that as both had work obligations either immediately or within the week of our return so we had to cancel the trip. Unfortunately, three days after our planned arrival, my MIL's husband passed away. Like so many others with dying relatives during this pandemic, not only did we miss the opportunity to see him one last time, we were also unable to attend the funeral services.
The situation was made worse when two days before her husband was to be buried, both my husband and MIL received calls that my husband's youngest brother had also passed away (although not COVID related)! This was unexpected although not a total surprise. He had led a troubled life and had been estranged from the family for decades only reaching out periodically. The last time my MIL had spoken to him had been two years ago. The responsibility for arranging for cremation of his body fell to his oldest daughter here in NY and my MIL as next of kin. Needless to say all of that was complicated by the fact that the body was in Maryland so identifying the body and arranging for its cremation had to all be done long distance.
Fortunately, in addition to a few local friends and church members, my MIL had an out of town couple she was friends with who were able to come stay with her for awhile immediately after the funeral. Then she stayed with her former sister-in-law in Raleigh from the weekend before through the day after Thanksgiving. After my husband and I discussed it and with the more relaxed return quarantine requirements that had by then been issued (requiring pre- and post-return COVID testing), I booked round-trip train tickets to go to NC on the last day of November and stayed with her for two weeks which allowed me to be with her for her birthday on 12/11. My MIL is a quilter and I knew that after such a tough year, a mini quilt retreat would boost both of our spirits.
She had been planning to buy another sewing table for me to be able to comfortably sew on for the long visit. In the past, when I came down, we would be squeezed into her sewing space and I'd set up my machine on her cutting table. Instead, I purchased a Gidget table and had it delivered to her home. I knew Fanny, my trusty traveling Featherweight would fit perfectly in the table and I would be able to recess the machine since I had plans to bring a project to work on requiring space for easy Free motion quilting.
|In the box were the projects I mailed down for the trip!|
This was my little work space set up in my MIL's late husband's "Man Cave". Her sewing room adjoins this room so we could "socially distance" yet still be in close proximity while sewing together. Even better, I left it there for her to use with her small travel machine or for me when I visit again. Although I adjusted the drop for my Featherweight, it can be readjusted for other small machines too. She has a friend from NY who comes down each summer to sew with her and has a large machine. She will be able to just pop the recessed area up and lock it in place to use the table as a flat surface with her machine.
The project I had plans for quilting was the Blue and White Spiderweb quilt that had been the second project picked for my "Blue and White Holiday Decorating" plan. It was inspired by the one made by Stitched In Color and using the Accuquilt Spiderweb die and more of the scraps from the AQS BOM stash. I had made the blocks as leader/enders while working on all the other mystery, quarantine, BOM and mini projects before my trip. I did get it to a top while in NC but didn't get around to layering and quilting it as you can see in the picture below.
While there I also got a few other tops done, like "Serendipity" (a Fons & Porter Easy Quilts Magazine pattern) using some of the leftovers from the "Modern Bohemia" BOM.....
|The blocks were still in progress here but the top is now finished.|
I also helped my MIL with some of her projects including finishing up her "Elvira" quilt top and pieced backing (which darn, it I don't have a picture of!) and work on her "Natalie's Quilt" project by Margaret Leuwen.
|These were in the "Man Cave" where I was working.|
A visit to NC is the only time I would ever get there! This was true for my MIL too since she doesn't like to drive on the highway long distances (Archdale is about 2 and a half hours from her and I drove). So I made our appointment to shop (with pandemic precautions, the number of people in the store are limited to 50 at a time and visits there can be booked in hourly increments). We both had a ball! It is a big store with a good selection of fabrics.
So the trip was a good one and my MIL was sad to see me go but appreciated that I was able to take time from my family and spend it with her. Of course as time has gone by she now has to get used to being in her home alone. Additionally she has been dealing with some nagging health issues so depending on what flares up, has good days and bad.
So Day 4's sewing got aborted because when she texted I called her and we had a real long talk: about her husband, about dealing with one's grief, about what she wants her life to be now as a widow. That last one is probably the most difficult for her to navigate. It is the first time in a long while that she has to think about just herself and it is not easy for her. I told her she was entitled to be sad but not to the point of stopping living. One of the ongoing discussions while I stayed with her was that she ate because I did but if I hadn't been there she might have not eaten frequently because she was often not hungry! One thing I had done while I was there was to check to see if she had Skype on her computer which is in her sewing room. She did, so when I got back I scheduled a Skye sewing session with her which she enjoyed.
So after our talk, I suggested we do another Skype session the next day. After ringing off and talking to my husband now I wasn't ready to sew! So decided I'd save my sewing for the Day 5 Skype session. Except it didn't happen. I texted my MIL in the morning to find out what was a good time for her. She said she had errands to run so would call me when she got back. Since my husband was unexpectedly off for the day, I spent the day catching up with things with him while waiting for the call. However, she didn't call until late because she got a late start on the errands and by then was too tired to focus on sewing. We made tentative plans again for today (Day 6) and I ran errands with my DH in the morning expecting to link up with her in the afternoon. However the call I got today was that she had not slept well because of pain so had gone in to see her doctor again and was still a little out of sorts for lack of sleep.
It is real tough to lose a spouse and/or a child. While monitoring her health issues, I plan to also suggest that she might consider a grief counseling group because I think some of the "pains" have to do with dealing (or more likely, not adequately dealing) with the grief. I went through a similar thing when my mother died and once I sorted out my feelings the physical pains went away.
However, I also know that grieving takes time so I expect my DH and I will be keeping in close contact with her a lot in the coming year. When he chose his 2021 vacation weeks back in October, we had set aside two weeks in October again to return to see her. When I told her that, her response was "But that's a year away!". So we're trying to see if he can swap a vacation week with a co-worker so we can combine it with one of the weeks earlier in year that has already been chosen. We could do a one week visit IF the vaccine helps reduce the return quarantine restrictions but so far I've heard not to expect that before mid-year or Fall of next year.
So hopefully tomorrow, I will get back to my own sewing for both the last of the seven days and the start of a new year. Let's hope for us all that 2021 will be a darned sight better than 2020 was! To any who have survived to the end of this very long post, I wish you and your family a safe and Happy New Year!!
Monday, December 28, 2020
Woo hoo! It took me all afternoon and this evening but the "Snow Day" top is now done!
This is the chair it will go on once quilted and that's the backing on the arm. With two rows of blocks, setting triangles and sashing to put together, I thought this would be a quick finish. However, as always finishing takes longer than anticipated.
I had made a cutting error for some of the strips for the setting triangles. I had to correct for that especially since I didn't have a lot of the fabric left. Measure twice, cut once! I was able to cut a few new strips but still had to figure out how to correct for the mis-cut ones. Ultimately I took scraps and did a good bit of "poverty piecing" to get the total I needed.
After finally piecing the block rows and the sashing strips together, it was time to attach them to the rest of the top. I had cut the sashing strips based on a length I had calculated when I worked on this in NC. But when I pinned it to the new block row there was a lot of excess. When I looked at the previously pieced rows, I realized I had (incorrectly) pieced them with too large end triangles that extended the ends of the rows past the seam allowance of the blocks. the new rows had been pieced with the (correct) smaller triangles on the new rows which explained the difference in length. So that meant correcting the sashing and after attaching the new rows also having to trim back the previously pieced sides of the top.
But it's done and I still have a few more days to try to get some more things done. The good news is that the doctor's office called and moved my appointment for tomorrow to the morning. I'm glad not to have to interrupt the sewing day to go out. Look forward to seeing what I can get to when I come back!
Sunday, December 27, 2020
It's getting late, time for check-in: So it was a busy day today -- not so much for quilting but for baking!
Bread was low and who wants to go out to the store on a cold day? So a quick batch of our favorite quick and easy rolls to go with the equally quick Ham and Cheese Crustless Quiche (another favorite gotten from Judy Laquidara's Patchwork Times blog years ago) to help use up the ham made for Christmas. Would you believe that I got the ham while in NC at the COVID testing site?!? The testing was held at a church and was a drive through set-up.
After you were tested but before you drove out, each person tested was a given a spiral ham shank and a box with other dinner supplies (potatoes, sweet potatoes and a small bundle of collard greens, corn bread, stuffing and gravy mixes, canned fruit and juice) as well as PPE supplies (a box of masks, a bottle of sanitizer, a digital thermometer, two boxes of Ibuprofen) and a flyer with a number to call if you needed someone to talk to if you were having trouble dealing with stress regarding the pandemic. If every test site did that, everyone would get tested!
Since both my MIL and I got tested that day, we both were given the supplies. I left the collards with her but shipped the rest back home knowing I was set for Christmas dinner! Of course, good but simple food needs a good but simple dessert -- Sugar Cookies anyone? It's DH's last day home before returning to work. The post holiday package rush will probably continue this week so I don't expect to see him much until New Year's Eve so a little indulgence was in order!
As to the quilting: I did get one of the sets of nine patches done last night before we broke to watch the last two episodes of the "Mandolorian" with our sons. DH and I followed that with the "Call the Midwife" Christmas special and then I headed to bed. Today between all the cooking and baking, I got the second set of fifteen made. Since I don't have my MIL's die, I had to cut the setting triangles the old fashioned way: strips and the Fons and Porter setting triangle ruler.
As I had when I worked on the top in NC, I'll need to attach setting triangles to two sides of each block to make playing with the placement of the blocks easier,
We'll see how many I get done tonight but I think I'll have a better chance of getting a good portion of them and the layout settled tomorrow after the hubby heads out to work. At least there's enough leftovers that I won't have to cook! That's always a big boost to plans to spend the day quilting!!